Could it be that a few enterprising commercial fishermen are finding a way to protect more Kenai king salmon, while also protecting their own setnet fishery?
Elizabeth Earle, writing for the Peninsula Clarion on Kenai, continues to do some of the best reporting in Alaska on fishing issues, especially conflicts between sport and commercial interests on the Kenai River.
Case in point is her report this week on how one East Side setnetter, on his own, is testing ways to reduce king salmon mortality, without hurting his sockeye harvest, by adjusting the gear he’s using and the depth he’s fishing.
Here’s one important passage:
“A lifelong setnetter in the Clam Gulch area, Brent Johnson knows he is allowed to harvest and sell king salmon under his commercial fishing permits, but he began thinking up ways to winnow out kings from the rest of the salmon. That way, he could release the kings alive and let them head up the river, contributing to escapement goals so the Alaska Department of Fish and Game could leave the setnet open, allowing him to still catch other kinds of salmon.
“After a few seasons of testing experimental nets and tagging kings he released, he finally has some results to show, indicating that kings may survive being released from setnets.”
Read the whole story at the Clarion website: