Subsistence Community Allowed To Use Set Gillnets On Kenai, Kasilof Rivers

A new fishery approved by the Federal Subsistence Board last week will allow the use of set gillnets on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. 

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The Ninilchik Tribal Council submitted the proposals, which will allow the subsistence community there to use one 60-foot long set gill net for sockeye on the Kenai River between June 15th and August 15th.

Up to 4,000 sockeye could be harvested with the subsistence permit, in addition to as many as 1,000 king salmon. That was the main point of contention on the Board’s 4-3 vote. And it complicates an already tough-to-manage fishery, says Alaska Department of Fish and Game Management Biologist Robert Begich.

“With more harvest, because of a new user group, if the fishery does grow or they are effective at harvesting, that harvest needs to be accounted for in the daily management of the fishery because we do get daily sport harvest estimates,” he said. “So we would hope that this harvest would be added to a program to the managing federal staff so that we could get it daily as well.”

The federal staff in charge is at the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, and they would have to approve any permit applications and operation plans for the fishery. Subsistence users are already allowed the use of rod and reel, dipnets and fish wheels. Subsistence communities in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass will also be allowed to apply for permits.