Amid the gap between the fixed net fleet and the Kenyan trawler fleets, the Fisheries Council has approved fishing gear changes for both

Amid the gap between the fixed net fleet and the Kenyan trawler fleets, the Fisheries Council has approved fishing gear changes for both

The Alaska Board of Fisheries approved small changes to local salmon fishing net and purse seine fleets at its meeting in Kodiak last week. January 9 – 12, choosing to generally maintain the status quo for the western side of the island’s management strategy. But as KMXT’s Davis Hovey reported, the growing divide between the two gear sets was on full display.

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Subordinate 91 the people Who have registered to make public comments, approximately one third of them discussed fishing nets or gillnets and proposals for their respective fishing gear. Of the 31 total proposals before the Fisheries Council, about ten considered management changes between gear groups. The BOF oversees fisheries management within state waters.

One suggestion, for example No. 64doubling the maximum allowable hook size for gillnet sets From 25 fathoms to 50 fathoms in length and extending the total net length that can be used From 150 fathoms to 175 fathoms. This change only applies to the central section of northwest Kodiak, which is the only area open to both gillnetting and trawling on the island. Proposition 64 was proposed in its original form by the Northwest Setnetters Association.

“We’re trying to work together with a very effective mobile set (fishing nets),” said Mark Beardsley, president of the Northwest Setnetters Association. It has been working for the past decades but things have changed. “It just doesn’t seem to be working for us anymore,” he said.

According to the groupThere has been a significant decline in the proportion of salmon harvested by set nets since 2012, which is proposed 64 It will allow for a more equitable harvest. Beardsley called for multiple proposals, some of which would allocate separate time for gillnet fishers to fish without trawlers being able to fish and set an allotment for gillnets only. Propositions 62, 69 and 70 were unanimously rejected by the Fisheries Board..

Map of gillnet and trawl fishing areas within the Kodiak Management Area. Provided by Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 2024.

In the end, the Council unanimously approved this proposal with some amendments Provided by the Kodiak Seiners Association. The association said this is “an attempt to provide some relief to the Northwest Set seiner fleet during open fishing periods. We recognize that any increase in harvest as a result of this change will impact the available fish that can be caught by seiners.”

This regulatory change does not require gillnetters to use a longer hook, but gives them the option to do so if they choose. Fisheries Council member Mike Wood said this gear change would ensure gillnet fishermen caught more fish.
But James Jackson, a zoning biologist with the Department of Fish and Game, said it’s difficult to determine how much this gear change will impact salmon harvests in areas outside the Central Division.

“That would definitely make the equipment more efficient because it would be larger or you could use a larger hook, so the potential to harvest more in the gillnet fleet could harvest fish going to the Alitak area,” Jackson explained. “But the seine fisheries have larger nets than they do (gillnets) and they will still catch about the same time.”

As a sort of trade-off proposal for the purse seine fleet, the Council also decided to increase the length of the purse seines by 25% From 200 fathoms to 250 fathoms and allowing the size of the seine to reach seven inches. One wire no longer than 100 fathoms may be used with each fishing net or hand net. The total length of the seine and lead may not exceed 250 fathoms.
This is a separate proposal
66 There were at least 30 people making opposing comments, The vast majority of them also supported Proposition 64. While discussing these proposals, John Wood, Chairman of the Fisheries Council, said he witnessed something he had never seen before.

“An advisory committee came forward and then a large group of members withdrew their support here on the council. “It’s clear to me that there’s a divide developing in this community that can be addressed by at least reaching some compromise on this (Proposition 66) in addition to what we’ve already done with the hook , etc. (Proposition 64).” Advertised.

in the beginning The Kodiak Advisory Committee (AC) voted in favor of Propositions 62, 64 and 66But during the Fisheries Council meeting, in an unprecedented step, Many members withdrew their support for Proposition 62which was amended by the Northwest Setnetters Association and ultimately voted down.

Board of Fisheries members in October 2023. Image provided by Board of Fisheries via public domain.

Select the members of the board of directors Failure to agree to some of the larger demands put before themHowever, including changing fishing times to allow trawlers exclusive in-water opportunities.

The number of purse seine permits peaked in the late 1990s at more than 300, according to data shared by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. But over the past five years, the number of permits has averaged nearly half that of 168, while trawlers have maintained or increased their efficiency in catching fish. Meanwhile, gillnet harvests have been lower and lower over the past decade.
Although the number of gillnet permits has not declined as significantly as trawlers have since the 1990s, the average for the last five years has been below the historical average of 144.

The division within fishing groups on Kodiak Island was exacerbated by A Changing the course of Karluk sockeye salmon in September. A shift in late operating timing has allowed Kenyan trawlers to increase their harvests since 2012, while trawlers say they were struggling during the same time frame.

Chairman Wood says he hopes the Kodiak fishing community can bridge the gap between the two sets of equipment in the future.

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