Tag Archives: Cook Inlet

Set-netters’ case shot down, again, in court

And after the closure in 2019, set-netters represented by the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund sued the state in hopes the court would order managers to rework that management plan and others. It alleged restrictions the state had placed on the commercial fishermen were unscientific and arbitrary and flew in the face of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Kenai court said because there was no federal management plan for Cook Inlet fisheries at that time, the state was not bound by those standards. And it said the state’s Board of Fisheries and Department of Fish and Game had the discretion to write and enforce their own rules. The Supreme Court doubled down on that opinion last week. >click to read< 12:04

Cook Inlet fishermen sue over set-net closures

Days after they were ordered to take their nets out of the water, Cook Inlet set-netters are suing the state over the fishery’s closure. In a case filed in state court last week, the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, representing Cook Inlet fishermen, said the state is mismanaging the east-side set-net fishery to the benefit of other user groups. It’s asking the state to immediately reopen the fishery this season to its 440 or so permit-holders, to pay fishermen back for what they lost and to revise the plan that closed it in the first place. Due to restrictions linked to the sport fishery, the east-side set-net fishery in Cook Inlet closes when king salmon abundance on the Kenai River is low. The set-netters were shut down early this year for the fourth year in a row. >click to read< 11:12

PWS harvest soars above 9M fish, statewide catch exceeds 16M salmon

Commercial harvesters in the Prince William Sound region delivered upwards of 371,340 salmon through Tuesday, June 28, while the statewide preliminary harvest exceeded 16 million fish, including deliveries in Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula. Harvests reached almost 8% above year-to-date 2021 (2020 for pinks), led by strong sockeye harvests in the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay regions, according to Sam Friedman, who is producing the McKinley Research Group weekly in-season reports on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. For Prince William Sound, harvests and the weights of salmon harvested remained below the 10-year average, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jeremy Botz, in Cordova. >click to read< 09:06

In victory for commercial fishermen, court orders Cook Inlet fishery to reopen

Cook Inlet drift fishermen can fish the federal waters of the inlet this summer after all. That’s after a district court judge shot down a federal rule that would have closed a large part of the inlet to commercial salmon fishing. Fishermen said it would have been a death knell for the fishery, which has 500 drift permit-holders. One of those permit-holders is Erik Huebsch, of Kasilof. He’s vice president of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, which filed the suit. And he said he’s pleased. “Opening the EEZ is vital to the fleet,” Huebsch said. “Without opening the EEZ, the drift fishery is really not viable. That’s where we go to catch fish.” >click to read< 12:19

Copper River Seafoods not buying Cook Inlet salmon amid declining harvests

Another seafood processor is moving out of Kenai this salmon season. Copper River Seafoods is ending its run in the old Snug Harbor Seafood plant, leaving one major salmon processor in the area but promising the addition of a new company soon. Processors like Copper River buy catch from commercial fishermen and bring that catch to market. As commercial fishermen have dealt with declining salmon runs and management changes, processors from Kenai to Homer have left, too, leaving fishermen with fewer options. >click to read< 08:53

Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasts fair to poor sockeye runs for Cook Inlet, Copper River

State biologists are projecting a mixed bag of returns this spring and summer for Southcentral’s popular sockeye salmon fisheries. Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials on Feb. 7 issued a forecast estimating that just less than 5 million sockeye will return to upper Cook Inlet river systems, allowing for a harvest of nearly 3 million sockeye from the region overall. It’s expected approximately 2.9 million fish from the total run will be headed to the Kenai, with another 941,000 pegged for the nearby Kasilof. >click to read< 19:19

Fishery Disaster Assistance: Aid can take years to come through

The designation is supposed to unlock funds to help the communities impacted by those fisheries failures, including communities around Cook Inlet. But it can take years for the money to reach fishermen’s pockets. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the timing is one of the problems with the process. “If you’ve had a disaster that happened in 2018, we’re sitting here in 2022 and you’re saying, ‘Really? You think that that’s going to help me?’ In the meantime. I’ve got a boat mortgage that I’ve got to be paying. I’ve got a crew that I’ve got to be paying. This doesn’t help me at all,” she said. >click to read< 16:49

Kenai Peninsula Municipalities still working to oppose EEZ closure

Peninsula municipalities are still fighting back against the closure of federal waters in Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing. The city councils of both Kenai and Homer have agreed to file amicus briefs in a lawsuit brought forth by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, which has a goal of reopening the waters before the 2022 summer fishing season. Groups across the peninsula, including the cities of Homer and Kenai as well as the Kenai Peninsula Borough, have consistently voiced their opposition to the closure of Cook Inlet’s federal waters to commercial salmon fishing. >click to read< 10:59

Commercial fishermen sue over Cook Inlet closure

Commercial fishermen are going to court in an attempt to keep Cook Inlet open to salmon fishing. That’s following a controversial decision by the feds to close a large swath of Upper Cook Inlet that’s long been managed by the state and is an important area for drift gillnet permit holders. The decision to close the federal Cook Inlet salmon fishery was approved by the feds last week but was first proposed last December by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which sets policy in Alaska’s federal waters. >click to read< 08:08

Cook Inlet Federal Waters Closed to Commercial Salmon Fishing

The Biden Administration has closed the federal waters of Alaska’s Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing for the 2022 Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishing season. This action closes a portion of the historically used fishing area for the Cook Inlet drift gillnet salmon fishery. NOAA Fisheries, the agency responsible for the stewardship of national marine resources, published the final rule in the Federal Register November 2, and it takes effect 30 days after that. >click to read< 13:51

Net migration: Young commercial fishermen ship out of Cook Inlet

The Cook Inlet salmon fishery was once an economic engine for Kenai. But the fishing there is no longer lucrative. Many fishermen with deep ties to the inlet are retiring, or moving elsewhere. The F/V Nedra E is smaller than the other boats bobbing at the dock in Naknek. Thor Evenson didn’t have Bristol Bay in mind when he designed the boat for his parents, Nikiski homesteaders Jim and Nedra Evenson. Until last year, she’s been a Cook Inlet boat, captained by Jim, then his nephew, and now his grandson, 32-year-old Taylor Evenson. Last year, Taylor couldn’t put it off any longer. So with the help of the boat’s original builder, Kevin Morin of Kasilof, he gutted everything behind the cabin, chopped several inches off bow and stern, and installed a brand new deck, to bring the Nedra E in line with Bristol Bay standards. >click to read< 07:50

Some setnetters ask state to reopen limited fishery

Commercial setnet fishermen in Cook Inlet had their season cut short last week. When the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Kenai River to sportfishing for king salmon, it closed the east setnet fishery completely. Some of them had only had a handful of openers. There are still plenty of sockeye in the water, which are the main fish the commercial fleet harvests, and setnetters are making some last-ditch plays to try to save some of their season. Ted Crookston, who has been setnetting on the Salamatof beach for nearly six decades, is asking the Board of Fisheries to at least open the setnets in a narrow strip just offshore—out to 600 feet below mean high tide.,, “We’re sitting here on the beach and catastrophically denied access to anything and you’re saying that it’s justified—it’s not,” >click to read< 13:48

Mark Lawton Doumit, a commercial fisherman, politician, public servant, has passed away in Tenino, Wash.

Mark was born in Longview, Wash., on November 26, 1961, to Eli and Patricia Doumit and was the 10th of 11th children. He grew up in his family’s hometown of Cathlamet, Wash. While still in high school, Mark began a lifelong passion for commercial fishing. He began his career in the industry in high school, working on the Columbia River as a fish buyer. In college he began a nearly 40-year career in Alaska working in canneries and crewing on drift gillnet boats in Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay. Mark bought his own commercial salmon fishing operation in Cook Inlet, Alaska in 1986 and spent the remainder of his fishing career between Cook Inlet in the summer and lower Columbia River in the spring and fall. One of his great joys in life was the opportunity to fish alongside his sons and so many of his family and friends. >click to read< 09:24

Sen. Peter Micciche is again moving to establish a buyback program for set-net permits in Cook Inlet

The program would reduce the number of commercial set-net fishermen on the east side of the inlet. Proponents of the bill, like Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association Director Ken Coleman, say that’s to reduce pressure and create a more sustainable fishery in an area that’s been under stress for years. “Our thought was if we could reduce our numbers, then those who would be left behind in a reduction scenario, assuming that some people would leave the fishing community, that those that are left behind would have a better chance for ongoing financial viability,” he said. >click to read< 09:46

NPFMC decision puts Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery in jeopardy

Final action by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on commercial salmon fishing in Cook Inlet threatens to exclude drift gillnet harvesters from fishing in the inlet’s commercial waters at the start of the 2022 fishing season. In a near unanimous decision reached during the council’s virtual meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, the panel selected an alternative that would close off to the commercial fleet federal waters outside of three miles from shore, an area where most of the fleet get the bulk of its catch. >click to read< 16:43

Opposition mounts to proposal to close part of Cook Inlet to salmon fishing

The southern half of Cook Inlet will have a new fishery management plan in under a month. Commercial fishermen are organizing with the help of their city councils to make sure that plan is not the proposed “Alternative 4,” which would close off federal waters south of Kalgin Island to commercial salmon fishing. “I hate to be overdramatic in a lot of cases, but you could almost call it a deathknell for drift fishing in Cook Inlet,” he said. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is taking public comment on the matter until 5 p.m. Friday. As of Monday, over 80 commenters had voiced opposition to Alternative 4,,, >click to read< 11:32

Cook Inlet setnet permit buyout bill stalled in Senate

Senate Bill 90, sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, would establish a mechanism in law for setnetters on Cook Inlet’s East Side to set up a permit buyback. There’s no funding included in the bill, but the establishment of the mechanism itself would allow stakeholders to seek funding, whether it comes from the federal government, state, or private equity. ,, The East Side setnet fishery has gradually been losing value for years. For the last few decades, user-group politics have led to the Board of Fisheries reducing the time and area allowances for setnetters on Cook Inlet’s East Side, who compete for salmon headed for the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, which also host large sport and personal-use fisheries. more, >click to read< 20:46

Cook Inlet salmon fisheries into full swing after rough 2018

Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries are now in full swing, with promising sockeye returns finally showing up. East Side setnetters in the sections north of Kasilof opened for their first period July 8, and the personal-use dipnet fishery on the Kenai River opened July 10. They join the drift gillnet fleet and other Upper Cook Inlet setnetters as well as the inriver sportfishery and the Kasilof River personal-use fishery. As of July 8, nearly 80,000 sockeye salmon had passed the sonar in the Kenai River. That’s more than double the number that had passed through on the previous date in 2018, when only 37,513 had passed, according to the Alaska Departm,,, >click to read< 15:31

Cook Inlet fishermen celebrate ‘Return of the Reds’ with hope for 2019

Cook Inlet fishermen are looking forward to their salmon season with high hopes that the sockeye will arrive in better numbers than last year. On June 11, fishermen and processors grilled up some of the first Cook Inlet salmon of the year at the Pacific Star processing plant in Kenai, gathering to build excitement for the coming season. The plant is now receiving salmon from the west side of Cook Inlet, while the fishermen in the drift gillnet and east side set gillnet fleets gear up for their first expected openings in the coming weeks. >click to read<15:24

Cook Inlet setnet buyback program gains support

Cook Inlet fishermen are again pushing for a bill that would authorize a commercial set gillnet permit buyback, but with the budget battles ongoing, it may not advance this year. Senate Bill 90 is the latest version of the plan to set up a buyback program for setnet permits on Cook Inlet’s east side. About 440 permits exist on the east side, targeting primarily sockeye salmon with secondary catches of king salmon headed for the Kasilof and Kenai rivers. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, aims to permanently remove up to 200 permits and their shore leases from the fishery. The fishermen have been debating a way to reduce the fleet for about four years,,, >click to read<21:23

K-6 gillnetter is a reminder of Kenai’s long fishing history

One of the earliest commercial transactions involving Alaska salmon occurred in 1786. In that year two British ships stopped in Cook Inlet, which was then under Russian-American Company control, to trade Hawaiian yams for fresh salmon. The Russian-American Company never developed a for-profit salmon industry. However, after the United States acquired Alaska in 1867, Americans began operating salteries in Southeast Alaska to preserve the fish for market. In 1878, the first Alaska cannery was built at Klawock on Prince of Wales Island. Within four years, canneries had reached Cook Inlet in Southcentral Alaska. >click to read<08:31

ADFG proposes sweeping changes to Cook Inlet salmon goals

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s recommendations for salmon escapement goal ranges in Upper Cook Inlet are out significantly earlier than they have been in past years. Upper Cook Inlet, which reaches north from the Kasilof River, encompasses a number of heavily fished salmon stocks, including the Kenai and Susitna rivers. ADFG reviews the escapement goal ranges for the rivers every three years or so and makes recommendations before the Board of Fisheries takes up the proposals for the area during the in-cycle meeting. >click to read<14:59

Breaking: Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Shakes Alaska, Damaging Roads, Buildings

In Anchorage, Alaska, people took refuge under tables and fled outdoors on Friday morning, as a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just north of the city. Some roads, bridges and buildings have been damaged, and schools and some businesses are shuttered for the day. Gov. Bill Walker has issued a declaration of disaster. Anchorage police report “major infrastructure damage” across the city. “Many homes and buildings are damaged,” the police department says. “Many roads and bridges are closed.” A tsunami warning was temporarily issued for coastal regions of Cook Inlet and the Southern Kenai Peninsula, but it has since been canceled. >click to read<14:54

Kenai River anglers ask for closure of Cook Inlet commercial set netting

The Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is calling for the closure of set net fishing on the Cook Inlet until adequate numbers of king and sockeye salmon enter the Kenai River. The organization is asking Gov. Bill Walker to direct the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to take action and help Kenai River salmon numbers rebound.,,, One commercial set netter agrees a closure could benefit harvests for both sides. “As a commercial set netter for almost 50 years, and speaking for myself,” Ken Coleman said, “I believe we commercial fisherman have always been in favor of department closures when the health of the fisheries is at risk, whether it be sockeyes, or Chinook or other species. >click to read<08:24

Drilling plan may not change much locally but still worries fishermen

Last week the Trump administration proposed to drastically increase the amount of Alaska waters open for oil and gas leasing. Along with keeping Cook Inlet open, it would also make areas near Kodiak and the Gulf of Alaska available for drilling, both of which are currently closed. Yet, it’s unclear if companies will be interested in drilling there even if the plan is approved. Still, the move worries local environmentalists and fishermen. click here to read the story 10:54 

ASMI Announces Winners of 1st Alaska Commercial Fishing Video Contest – Fisherman Kamirin Couch Takes Home the Grand Prize

Every day, fishermen brave the waters of Alaska to bring wild seafood from the sea to table for the world to enjoy. To recognize the men and women dedicated to harvesting wild, natural and sustainable seafood, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) put out a call for video submissions for the first-ever Alaska Seafood Commercial Fishing Video Contest. ASMI received entries from fishermen who shared their personal stories showcasing why an exhausting but beautiful life on or near the water is worth it for many reasons. Video, click here to read the story 09:26

2017 sockeye forecast weak for Cook Inlet

Upper Cook Inlet’s commercial salmon fishermen are predicted to have another slow season, if the forecast proves accurate. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2017 commercial salmon fishery outlook predicts a total run of about 4 million fish to all the stream systems in Upper Cook Inlet, which includes the Kenai, Kasilof and Susitna rivers as well as a number of smaller streams. Commercial fishermen are projected to harvest about 1.7 million of that, the lowest projected harvest in the last 15 years. It’s largely the Kenai River not living up to the recent 10-year average. The river is projected to see a return of 2.2 million sockeye, about 39 percent below the recent 10-year average of 3.6 million fish. By contrast, the Susitna River is projected to see about 366,000 sockeye return, about 5 percent below the average; the Kasilof River is expected to see about 825,000 sockeye, about 16 percent below the recent average, according to the forecast. Better than 2016 – Improving prices – Board of Fisheries changes – click here to read the story 08:29

North Pacific Fishery Management Council forced back into Cook Inlet salmon fray

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will open up a process next week that will likely take years to redesign the Cook Inlet salmon fishery management plan. A federal appeals court decided last fall that the council, which oversees all federal fisheries management in the North Pacific between 3 and 200 nautical miles offshore — known as the United States Exclusive Economic Zone — has to craft a management plan for the salmon fishery. The council decided in 2011 to hand over several of Alaska’s salmon fisheries to state managers by removing them from the existing fishery management plan, and though an Alaska U.S. District judge ruled that it was legal in 2014, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the decision this past September. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the first discussion paper prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service on what the plan could look like and how they should proceed during the council’s meeting April 6 in Anchorage. How did we get here? continue reading the story here 12:01

Fishy-nomics

As a blunt reminder of the value of salmon to all Alaskans, businessmen and women from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough paraded before the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Saturday to talk business. Money and jobs have always been the rallying cries of commercial fishermen who catch the majority of salmon that make their way into Cook Inlet, the long fiord at the front door of Anchorage. And government, both state and federal, has long been receptive to their financial pleas. When weak king salmon runs in 2012 forced restrictions that put Kenai Peninsula commercial fishermen on the beach, then Gov. Sean Parnell asked for a federal disaster declaration. When it came, the Peninsula Clarion reported, “an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s eastside setnet fishery” vied for $4.6 million in aid. No government entity, however, has jumped in to bail out Mike Hudson, the owner of 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla, even though his business has in recent years been devastated by weak salmon returns linked in part to how Inlet salmon are managed. continue reading the article here 09:40

More restrictions proposed for Northern District setnetters

Setnetting on the beaches of northern Cook Inlet isn’t a very visible fishery, but participants argue it’s a viable one. The Northern Cook Inlet setnet fishery operates between a line between Boulder Point in Nikiski and the Kustatan Peninsula on the west side of the inlet and Fire Island. Fishermen can target all five species of Pacific salmon at different times throughout the summer, beginning May 25 with a directed king salmon fishery. As northern district setnetter Trevor Rollman put it in his testimony the Board of Fisheries on Friday, the fishery doesn’t have an official closure, but rather it’s the weather that closes them for the season. Most of the fishermen land in Anchorage. Many of them direct-market their catch, as Rollman said he intended to do with his site in the future. Direct-marketers, sometimes called catcher-sellers, harvest and prepare their catch themselves, selling it directly to customers.  Read the full article here 08:57