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Board of Fish passes on emergency petitions

by Lorien Nettleton ~ August 2nd, 2012

Four emergency petitions were denied by the Board of Fisheries on Wednesday after a majority of the board voted against a finding of emergency.

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Three emergency petitions asked the board to address actions by the Department of Fish and Game that could be detrimental to northern area stocks, and one petition was opposed to opening the Kenai river setnet fishery to protect the tail-end of the king salmon run there.

In July The Matanuska-Susitna Borrough Fish and Game Commission Chairman Bruce Knowles sent an emergency petiton to stop or restrict the department for issuing further orders that would impede the Northern District Salmon Stocks. Knowles says that when the department issued its July 20th emergency order expanding commercial fishing openings after a predicted 4.6 million fish, they may have overestimated the stock.

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Knowles says a number of northern streams are already stocks of concern, such as the Larson Lake stock near Talkeetna, and in 2011 sport fishing closures were set to protect weak runs.

The sockeyes are already through the inlet, so his petition was no longer timely, but Knowles says he hopes this can be addressed at the fall Board of Fisheries meeting to strike a better balance between commercial and sport fisheries.

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Board of Fisheries member Tom Kluberton says the Board deemed the petitions concerned that northern-district bound salmon stocks to be low had today been deemed “average” as of [ Today / Wednesday ]. Commercial Setnetters had also observed strong sockeye runs in July. In an email, Kluberton added that a majority of the Board was not convinced there exists an emergency situation either on Sockeye or Coho stocks in the Northern District.  In part this was due to the numbers of fish that were either caught  or counted  since the petitions were submitted.

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