The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group started its two-day meeting this morning, at the Longhouse conference room. The group started the day with a facilitated discussion for their Chinook Salmon Management After Action Review.
The Longhouse conference room was full with people this morning. Members of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group, which include; lower river, middle river, upriver, elders, and subsistence users, processors, sport fisherman, members of the Western Interior and Y/K Delta Regional Advisory Councils, and Federal and State fish biologists and managers. They all came together to cover not only their regular business, but to review this year’s management of the Kuskokwim salmon fishery.
Jennifer Yuhas (you-haas) is moderating the discussions; Yuhas told the group that they are here to build a common memory of how the working group’s summer went, and to have a record of the working group’s work. Yuhas went over general rules that everyone had to agree to, including being respectful and giving everyone involved a chance to have input into this year’s review of the salmon management season. Yuhas further added that if anyone from the working group withheld any information they would be cheating the process.
With those ground rules set, Yuhas asked the group to focus and agree on the In-Season Management Plan of Kuskokwim Chinook. They all agreed on the escapement number for Kuskokwim Chinook, for conservation purposes. Which is set at 127-thousand.
Dan Gilikin of the Fish and Wildlife Service asked if the working group members understood the plan, and how subsistence closures would be in effect once certain criteria was assessed. A-V-C-P’s Natural Resource Director, Tim Andrew, responded by saying that people simply needed food, after a particularly long and cold winter. Andrew said when they held meetings in Napaskiak and Tuntutuliak there was fear in people’s eyes for not having their food security.
Beverly Hoffman further said that in further extending the 7-day subsistence closure by 5 more days Federal and State managers ignored the working group’s input. Tim Andrew further commented that in his years of observing the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group’s meetings, the Federal and State managers go outside the group to hold secret discussions behind closed doors. Andrew further commented that if they, the managers, were to be part of this group they had to cease their secret discussions.
Elder Chuck Chaliak summed up the problem by saying that there was no unity between the Federal and State managers and working group members.
Yuhas will have the group identify parts of the Kuskokwim Chinook management plan that worked, and parts that did not work and why. The group is meeting at the Longhouse today and tomorrow.