Our primary mission is ensuring that there are fish in Alaska’s rivers and streams for future generations, and advocating for access and use of those fish by sport anglers, personal use dip netters and subsistence fishers. We do that through advocacy at the government level, research into fish populations and rivers, public education, and conservation efforts that physically protect the long-term health and sustainability of our waters, especially spawning areas.
KRSA began with a focus on the Kenai River, but we have expanded our efforts to advocate for access to and meaningful allocation of fish to the public. Our work on the Kenai River is unparalleled in the state and serves as a model for how we can create responsible public access that protects fish habitat and provides great fishing opportunities.
Fish are the very definition of a renewable resource. But someone has to make sure they’re actually able to renew. Thanks to KRSA and our partners, the Kenai River has more spawning and riparian areas (where river meets land) closed to anglers than any other river in Alaska.
In fact, the Kenai River has the best balance in the state of protected fish environment and dedicated access for anglers.
We have installed more miles of light penetrating boardwalk on the Kenai River than any other entity, to prevent human feet from stomping on fragile riverbank. We’ve built handicap access and rehabilitated the Russian River ferry crossing. We get down in the mud to restore riverbank, clean up litter and blockages, and remove hazards (such as rock jetties).
Large sections of the Kenai River’s riparian areas below Skilak Lake are privately owned, and KRSA works with land owners to enact conservation measures. We also work with the state and federal governments to protect the Kenai River’s headwaters, much of which are within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuse and Chugach National Forest.
It’s important for Alaskans to take a long-term view towards our fish. We’ve already experienced an alarming drop in returns and average size of king salmon across the state. KRSA is working hard to prevent the same from happening to other species of salmon and trout and, if possible, to restore the health of our king salmon.
Anadromous fish – such as salmon and steelhead– live most of their lives in the ocean, but return to freshwater to spawn. It is critical for them to be able to reach their spawning areas, which means smart management of sport and commercial fishing to allow enough spawning fish upriver.
KRSA encourages our regulatory decision-makers and stakeholders to make fisheries policies that are based not just on economic need or political influence but, rather, on scientific research. We work tirelessly to enact policies that will protect Alaska’s fish and habitat to ensure their long-term health and sustainability, and to allocate those resources in an equitable manner to all users.
One of KRSA’s primary roles on behalf of our members is to monitor and have input at local, state and federal regulatory levels. Decisions made by regulatory bodies have significant impact on all users of our fish resources, and KRSA is your voice when these regulatory bodies are making decisions on fisheries policy. One of the most important policies is allocation.
97 percent of all salmon harvested in the state of Alaska is allocated for commercial purposes (limited entry) of the seafood industry. The remaining 3% of salmon is allocated for recreational (public use) by sport, personal-use and subsistence user groups. Southcentral Alaska is the home to a long-standing allocation conflict between the commercial fishing and recreational uses of salmon. The epicenter of this conflict is the Upper Cook Inlet.
For more info on this subject, please read KRSA’s report on the Economic Values of Sport, Personal Use, and Commercial Salmon Fishing in Upper Cook Inlet.
Healthy fish populations and habitat come first in our advocacy efforts. After that, we promote predictable and meaningful sport and personal-use fishing opportunities – in other words, your rights as an angler to go fishing in Alaska.
KRSA actively engages in the public processes of several state and federal regulatory bodies that are responsible for fisheries management, including:
If you want us to get involved in your local fisheries issues, please contact us. We would be happy to add the power of our membership to protect fish everywhere in Alaska.
KRSA actively works to encourage our federal, state and local governments to enact fisheries policies based on science – but that means having good, reliable, state-of-the-art research into the current health of our fish and the rivers where they spawn.
Since 2005, KRSA has directed more than $4.5 million into fisheries and habitat research, as well as habitat-restoration projects. We foster fishery research to advance information for sustainable salmon management with projects that address abundance, composition, timing, migration, sub-stock identification, harvest statistics, and factors influencing productivity and management.
KRSA has funded regional strategic-planning efforts to prioritize important projects for fisheries research, habitat research and habitat restoration. Such plans provide a funding template so that high-priority research and on-the-ground project needs are identified and ranked accordingly. We work in close cooperation with state and federal regulatory bodies to secure and leverage funding for studies that help managers make science-based decisions concerning the Kenai River.
As we expand our efforts beyond the Kenai River, we anticipate working with federal, state and local governments and advocacy groups to develop similar research projects in other rivers and waterways throughout Alaska.
One of the most important aspects of KRSA’s work is educating both our fellow Alaskans and our leaders on the importance of taking care of fish and their habitats.
One of the best ways we can do this is bring people to the Kenai River and let them experience the joy of fishing firsthand. KRSA hosts everyone from CEOs of major oil companies and U.S. senators to wounded veterans and disadvantaged children from urban neighborhoods. (We work with professional Kenai River fishing guides to take these kids fishing for the very first time.)
Youth Education Programs – Kenai River Junior Classic, Stevens Hooked on Fishing
Each year, KRSA’s youth education programs puts rods and reels in the hands of kids in our community so they can experience the thrill of fishing. Getting youth fishing is one of the most important ways to hook them as lifelong anglers and conservationists. To date, thousands of youth have received angler education and fishing rods/reels through our youth education programs.
On the River
Each year, KRSA invites targeted policymakers to experience a day on the Kenai River and to learn about our access and restoration efforts that are completed, in progress and planned for in the future.
We believe someone who has real, hands-on knowledge of the Kenai River will make better decisions about the laws and policies governing fish and habitat in the river.
Caring for the Kenai
Caring for the Kenai is an award-winning environmental-awareness contest for high school students that brings together the entire community of the Kenai Peninsula and provides an opportunity for a cooperative effort by industry, businesses, local and state governments, school districts, nonprofit organizations, environmental groups, and the media to increase public understanding of our community’s environmental and natural-disaster challenges.
The program reaches students, parents, teachers and the community at large. Now embedded in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District curriculum for Science and Language Arts in grades 9 – 12, Caring for the Kenai is a model educational partnership that has received national recognition for its innovative and collaborative nature.
Kenai River Guide Academy
The Kenai River Guide Academy is a five-day course required for all fishing guides on the Kenai River. It was created on the recommendation of the Kenai River Working Group, which was funded by KRSA in cooperation with the Kenai River Special Management Area. KRSA continues to help underwrite the program at Kenai Peninsula College and provides instructors.
The course trains prospective guides in regulations, safety, ethics and fish-habitat conservation. Guides must pass in order to receive a state of Alaska commercial operator permit to guide on the Kenai River.
Kenai River Spring Clean-Up
KRSA, the guide association, the school district, state and federal resource agencies work cooperatively with business supporters to organize one of the largest annual river clean-ups each spring. Thousands of pounds of trash and debris are removed each spring by 500 plus school children through this program. Kids share their time cleaning up the river, and business sponsors help put rods and reels, fishing equipment and other fun items back into the classrooms.
Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula Coalition works with the Central Peninsula Hospital to educate adults and children on water safety to prevent accidental death and injury. The number-one reason people die on Alaska’s rivers, lakes, streams and ocean is lack of a life jacket. Drowning kills much faster than hypothermia. Wearing a life jacket – for kids and adults – is the number-one way to save lives while on or near the water.
KRSA focuses on providing children with life jackets and water-safety instruction. While life vests are mandatory for youth under age 13, wearing a life jacket should be a lifelong safety habit practiced by all.
Take a Kid Fishing, Take a Veteran Fishing, Wounded Warrior
The Kenai River Professional Guide Association represents the guided sportfishing industry on the Kenai River, one of the largest professional organizations of guides in the state, with goals that include resource protection and professional guided fishing.
KRSA supports a range of rewarding events sponsored by the association that treat kids, veterans and wounded warriors to fishing on the Kenai.