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KENAI PENINSULA-In what seemed a caving to the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order closing down the fishery that targets fish returning to the Kenai River.
The order was issued closing down the commercial fishery effective 11pm Sunday night. This order followed another emergency order, opening the fishery up to allow commercial fishermen to harvest what is an over-abundance of Sockeye returning there, just 36 hours before.
But, that earlier emergency announcement came before news that the Kenai River Sportfishing Association board had angrily and unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Ricky Gease, the director of the KRSA charged, after that announcement, that the state was going to fail to meet the minimum spawning goals for Kenai King Salmon. That goal is 17,800 kings. But, according to official estimates on their site, Fish and Game puts the number of Kings past the counting station at 17,622 as of August 2nd.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has not released a latest estimate, but instead has only said that the return is well below average and that returning Kings meeting the minimum escapement goals is unlikely without shutting down the net fisheries.
Sportfishing leaders have charged that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has let greed trump conservation. The accusations and bad publicity cannot be ignored by a department who’s prime directive is conservation.