Starting at noon today, Thursday, July 13, fishers can use longer gillnets in the lower Kuskokwim River.
From the river’s mouth to the Johnson River, gillnets can stretch 50 fathoms in length, which is twice as long as previously permitted. Other gillnet restrictions remain the same: six-inch or less mesh and no more than 45 meshes deep.
The Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group recommended the change to the state Department of Fish and Game.
Working Group member James Charles in Tuntutuliak said that the nets were too short for people living in the tundra villages. They have to travel to the Kuskokwim main-stem to harvest salmon and larger nets will mean less travel and less gas.
Aaron Tiernan with Fish and Game says that the longer nets are not likely to have a meaningful impact on the low king run that’s coming to its end.
But one member of the Working Group, Lisa Feyereisen in Aniak, pushed back, saying that the word meaningful is relative, and that even one king taken out of the river has an impact.
Other members supported the measure to enable tundra villagers to harvest more reds and chum moving upstream.