Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) objects to the exclusion of sport anglers from appointment to a North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) committee for Cook Inlet salmon management. On Monday, June 11, NPFMC Chair Dan Hull announced appointments to the Council’s new Cook Inlet Salmon Committee, formed to assist in the development of measures necessary to satisfy revisions to the Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as it relates to Cook Inlet. The Chair decided to appoint only committee members who commercially fish in the federal waters (Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ) of Cook Inlet. No members of any other sector, including sport, personal use and subsistence users, were appointed to the committee, scheduled to meet this fall with an initial report to the Council due at its December 2018 meeting.
KRSA is surprised and dismayed with the approach to exclude all other stakeholders in the Council’s committee process. Salmon management in the Cook Inlet EEZ is a controversial issue, complicated by mixed user groups, including commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence, fishing on mixed salmon stocks and species, that are returning to multiple watersheds, each with variable run timing. What occurs in terms of harvest by Cook Inlet drifters in the federal waters of Cook Inlet ripples throughout the region and impacts every user group.
“Essentially anyone involved in salmon management in Upper Cook Inlet understands that the commercial drift gillnet fishery in the EEZ has a direct and immediate impact on not only the allocation of the salmon resource but also its very sustainability,” said KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease. “We hope that the Chair reconsiders this decision to exclude other stakeholders, as we feel the process over the long-term will benefit with expanded participation of broader interests.”