NEWS: Rep. Gara Wants Fairness for Kenai River Dipnetters
Rep. Gara Urges Additional Public Comments to Ensure Continued Access to Kenai River Salmon
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2017
Juneau – For the past three years, Alaskans who rely on dipnetting sockeye salmon from the Kenai River have been blocked from fishing after July 31st, which denies them a fair chance at catching their limit of fish. The sockeye salmon runs have been arriving later in the season, which results in a substantial part of the Kenai River run entering the river after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the dipnet fishery. At the same time, commercial fishermen have been allowed to take advantage of continued strong returns well into August.
“We all know that the sockeye runs into the Kenai River are coming in later,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage). “The commercial fishing industry is important, but it is wrong to block individual Alaskans from dipnet fishing while commercial fishing is extended to August when the runs are strong.”
Rep. Gara has submitted comments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries supporting proposals to protect the Kenai River sockeye and silver runs while still allowing dipnet fishing to remain open into August. Rep. Gara was clear in his comment that any extension should end if it endangers the fall silver salmon run, which is the current rule for commercial sockeye fishing.
“The Alaska Department of Fish and Game allows August fishing by commercial fishermen as long as it does not endanger the sockeye or silver runs,” said Rep. Gara. “I believe the department should allow the same opportunity to the more than 600,000 Alaskans that do not own commercial fishing vessels or permits.”
Rep. Gara is encouraging Alaskans to send comments the Alaska Board of Fisheries about the dipnetting timing issue in advance of the Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting that will be held in Anchorage from February 23rd to March 8th. On-time written comments are due by February 9th. In person public comments will be accepted during the first two days of the meeting. For more information about how to provide public comments call (907) 465-4110.
The Alaska Outdoor Council has submitted a proposal to extend the dipnet fishery, as has one individual Alaskan. The Outdoor Council can be contacted at (907) 264-6645.
For more information, contact Rep. Les Gara (907) 250-0106.