Daily Sitka Sentinel
Since the full house on the first day, attendance declined as the days progressed and issues were decided. But a good number of folks still turned up early Saturday morning as the seven-board members began the push to complete work on 60-plus proposals remaining on the agenda.
That included reconsideration and ultimately the reversal of a controversial board decision aimed at reducing sport-commercial conflicts on the remote Tsiu River near Yakutat.
With most of the high-profile decisions having been made earlier this past week, most of the remaining issues considered this weekend were of interest to a particular gear or user group, or specific to a particular fishing area or river.
Commercial winter troll fishermen will be able to catch more king salmon as a result of the board’s 4-2 decision on Proposal 310 submitted by the Sitka Fish and Game Advisory Committee.
The decision changes the winter troll quota to 45,000 wild-stock king salmon that count under the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.
That ultimately allows more harvest because the previous winter quota of 45,000 fish included hatchery-produced as well as wild-stock kings.
The department estimates that winter trollers might catch about 4,500 hatchery kings in addition to the base quota of 45,000 wild-stock fish, raising the total potential winter catch to around 49,500 fish.
The basic goal of Proposal 310 is to increase king salmon harvests during the winter, when prices are higher.
But the decision could reduce the amount of time trollers can fish for kings during the summer because of the Pacific Salmon Treaty
The treaty process sets an annual limit for the all-gear harvest of wild-stock kings in Southeast Alaska. The troll catch of more treaty kings in winter will reduce the amount of fish and fishing time available during the summer troll fishery.
The board voted 4-2-1 on Proposal 310.
Two nets for seiners
The board OK’d an amended Proposal 288 to allow commercial purse seine boats to carry two nets of “essentially the same size” in areas open to the fishery.
Submitted by the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, the original proposal requested to change the longstanding rule that allowed seiners to have only one net aboard during a fishery, but did not specify a net length.
The potential for larger boats to be able to carry nets of various length — which could allow fishermen to quickly change fishing strategy based on net length — was viewed by some board members as being unfair to smaller boats unable to carry a second net.
The approved version was viewed as simply allowing seiners to have a spare net on board to replace a damaged one, rather that having to travel to port for another one.
The board opposed a request to exclude stern rollers and ramps from the regulation that limits the overall maximum length of seine boats to 58 feet.