The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Bethel removed the free fish bin next to Brown’s Slough after discovering people had been dumping old Chums into the container this past week.
Fish and Game has been donating fish caught in its test fishery for the past 30 years and all members of the public have been welcomed to the fish.
Bethel resident John Active has been taking fish from the tote for the past few weeks to bring to his aunt. He says he’s brought home Chums, Reds, Kings and several White Fish. But one morning last week when he went to collect fish.
“I opened the bin and there in the bin to my amazement there were these old Fish,” Active says. “They were Chums they were all Chums. There might have been a Red or two. But they were old and I could tell. I looked at the gills and they were very pale.”
Active says he called fish and game. The said they’d received several complaints already.
“It was bad, sad that people were doing that,” Active says. “It was a good project that fish and game was doing offering free fish for people who needed it here in town.”
Fish and Game biologist Travis Elison says the department’s staff also checks the bin several times a day and noticed the old fish. They donated the Chums to dog mushers and the organic farmer but are now changing the way the public can pick up fish.
“We’re still getting some king salmon, a lot of sockeye salmon and we’ll still be giving those out,” Elison says. “But people will have to stop by our Bethel office if they want to try and get those.”
Elison says this is the first time he’s heard of something like this happening. He adds they might put the bin back at Brown’s Slough once Silvers are running again.