Kuskokwim tribes seek to restrict sport fishing

by Angela Denning-Barnes on January 11, 2013

Many proposals in next week’s Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting seek to change the salmon fisheries on the Kuskokwim River. Some village tribes have submitted proposals that would restrict fishing with the hopes it would help the local subsistence fisheries.

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Some tribes are looking to restrict sport fishing on their tributary rivers. One proposal by the Native Village of Eek seeks to eliminate sport fishing altogether on the Eek River. The tribe says their elders consider it playing with food. A similar proposal is from Quinhagak that would prohibit catch and release sports fishing for salmon on the Kanetok and Arolik Rivers unless it is a salmon that is too unhealthy for humans to eat. The tribe says catch and release is considered a violation of traditional beliefs.

Kwethluk’s tribe submitted a proposal looking to close all sport and commercial guide fisheries in the Kwethluk River from June 1 to July 25 every summer.

Meanwhile, Bethel’s native tribe, Orutsararmuit Native Council, has submitted several proposals to restrict the Kuskokwim salmon subsistence fishery. One would limit subsistence caught Kings to no more than 10, unless they are for drying and cold smoking only. Another proposal would require a permit for any subsistence caught salmon that is transported out of the Kuskokwim Management Area. The proposal also would require those fish be reported. ONC says there are too many salmon leaving the region and there’s no way to track it. Yet another ONC proposal looks at the customary trade for all subsistence caught fin fish. It would require permits and recording of customary trades. It also looks to cap the amount to $500 per household per calendar year and to restrict these trades to within the Kuskokwim region.

The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group has submitted a proposal to remove the 8 inch gear option for commercial fishing in District 1 on the Lower Kuskokwim.

Another proposal would revisit the amount needed for subsistence or the ANS for the Kuskokwim River drainage. The proposal was submitted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, saying it’s a good opportunity for the board and the public to revisit these figures.

Another State Department proposal would allow anglers to use large treble hooks in all waters for taking fish other than salmon. Fish and Game says that anglers unwittingly violate current regulations by using large lures as they are manufactured. They say there is no biological justification for continuing to prohibit them.

There are several Board of Fish proposals for the Yukon River fisheries as well, including proposals to reduce pike fishing on the Lower Yukon. Two proposals look to reduce the bag and possession limits for subsistence fishing for pike with rod and reel downriver of Holy Cross. The proposals were submitted by the GASH advisory committee, making up the villages of Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, and Holy Cross. They are concerned that there are too many pike being taken during the winter subsistence fishery. The fishery currently has no bag limit and they say that continued over fishing would affect the future stock of pike fish.

The Board of Fish meeting is scheduled for Jan. 15-20 at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage.

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