Soldotna — Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) announced today that it supports conservative management actions being taken by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) Sport Fish and Commercial Fish divisions to protect late-run Kenai River king salmon.
“There is no doubt that historically low numbers of late-run king salmon are returning to the Kenai River. Significant restrictions in sport, personal use and commercial fisheries are essential for protecting escapement of these prized fish,” said KRSA executive director Ricky Gease.
The earliest in-season sport fishery restrictions in more than 20 years (perhaps in history) were announced by ADFG July 8 for the world class Kenai king run. The late-run of Kenai king salmon returning in July was restricted to catch and release effective today through July 31, the end of the season.
According to ADF&G, as of July 6, all indices used to assess in-river abundance indicate a run that is well below average. In-season projections show all indices will not achieve their respective minimum in-season management objective. This information indicates the 2012 run is smaller than the 2011 run and may be the lowest on record. ADFG estimates this regulation will reduce harvest and increase spawning escapement by almost 2,000 kings.
This restriction follows earlier restriction on use of bait while fishing for late-run king salmon in the lower Kenai River, and prohibits retention in the Kenai River upstream of Slikok Creek from July 1-14. Retention of king salmon has also been prohibited in the Personal Use Fishery and fishing for king salmon in the marine waters of Upper Cook Inlet within one mile of shore between Anchor Point and Ninilchik is prohibited.
ADFG Commercial Fish managers have also taken historically-unprecedented restrictions on the openings of the commercial set net fishery in an effort to conserve king salmon destined for the Kenai River. The potential for these restrictions was forecast by the Department based on preseason estimates of very low Chinook numbers in populations throughout much of Alaska. The set net fishery was closed on Monday by Emergency Order, the first regular period of the 2012 season. This follows closures in late June of two regular commercial set net fishing periods by Emergency Order in the Kasilof Section of the Upper Subdistrict. The cost to the commercial fishery has been softened so far by low numbers of sockeye, as these runs appear to be late this year. Costs will mount quickly as the sockeye run switches into full swing over the next couple weeks.
Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is a 501 (c) 3 charitable non-profit, fishery conservation organization of sport anglers, conservationists and others whose primary goal is to preserve and improve salmon habitat while promoting responsible sportfishing on the Kenai River. Learn more at www.KRSA.com.
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