All posts by Peter Westley

Summary of conversation with Aaron Dupuis

  1. Assistant area manager for Upper Cook Inlet Management Area
  2. Area broken into a central and northern district (and then sub-districts), which has very different  management objectives and regulations
  3. 736 active set gillnet permits (507 reported fishing in 2015), permit stacking allowed can fish twice the amount of gear
  4. 566 active drift gillnet permits (492 reported fishing in 2015). Two permits can be fished on one boat and extra gear can be fished. Max mesh size of 6 inches most use smaller to target sockeye
  5. Setnetters can choose to fish among 3 sub-districts but once they choose they can’t move among sub-districts; drift netters fish only in the central district
  6. Harvests of Chinook in the northern district has been very low in recent years (approximately less than 2000 fish per year) set to be restrictive given a complex mixed stock fishery
  7.  The recipe book for management of northern district is the ‘northern district salmon management plan’
  8. Kasilof River goals are for ‘optimal’ levels that take into account allocation issues among users
  9. Kenai River late-run sockeye plan shall manage primarily for commercial uses based on abundance while minimizing harvest of northern district coho, late run Chinook
  10. In 2011 Kenai modified counting methods. Primary targets are in-river escapement goals, but harvests from anglers and dipnet anglers come post season
  11. Estimate that dipnetters catch 1 in 3 sockeye entering system
  12. Management plan set up such that in times of low abundance the sport fish and comm fish both undergo restrictions
  13. Management objectives: meet escapement goals and follow the management plans regarding allocation implications
  14. Overarching question: how do you harvest abundant sockeye returns while conserving weaker stocks????

Summary of our conversation with Ricky Gease

  1. The Kenai River is the most popular river for sportfishing in Alaska and part of a larger sportfishing complex of the Kenai Peninsula (includes Kasilof, saltwater fishing, Anchor River, etc…)
  2. 10-20% of all angler days in the Kenai itself
  3. May different groups involved in management, conservation of the Kenai River.
  4. Conservation-based management is a benefit to the fish and all users
  5. Alaska leading the way for empowering the public in fisheries regulations, through Board of Fish and other frameworks initiated during statehood and supported by policy such as Magnusson-Stevens act
  6. 10% excise tax on sportfishing gear that supports management agencies such as Sport Fish Division of ADFG
  7. Fish, and salmon in particular, iconic and woven into Fabric of Society
  8. 50% of households in AK have a sportfish license…very high participation
  9. All told, total economics of Alaska fisheries worth 5-6 billion
  10. Highest rates of military retirees and access to hunting and fishing a draw for this component of society
  11. Approximately 45lb of seafood per person consumed by residents on the Kenai peninsula, compared to 15lb average
  12. Low income households that have access to sport caught fish  have higher food security…suggesting sportfishing and personal use fish very important
  13. Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is a non profit and is among larger conservation organizations in state
  14. Half the Kenai closed to bank fishing to protect fish habitat
  15. KRSA very active in BoF meetings
  16. Youth taught to fish will often remain anglers rest of life, which can add stewards and conservationists into the future
  17. Kenai Refuge most visited refuges in Alaska. Highest economic return to Refuge due to anglers
  18. Some of the most complex fisheries management in the world!
  19. Research an important way to monitor and evaluate strategies for restoration (e.g. the efficacy of cabling spruce trees to stabilize stream banks or culvert passage)
  20. Socio-economic studies of value of sportfishing done in 2007 and revealed large economic benefits
  21. 35,000 personal use permits for Kenai Peninsula; 350k-500k sockeye harvested by dipnetters
  22. Lots of fish friendly regulations, based on boat size and motor size limits, boardwalks and walkways, 50 foot setback (no permanent structures within 50 feet of streambank)
  23. Fish data drives policy and management decisions
  24. All users and managers are aligned on idea of ‘fish first’ policies
  25. Good governance key to healthy fisheries

Summary from Ben Meyer

  1. What is your relationship with climate change? What is your relationship with salmon? Could your relationship change in the future? What does climate change mean for juvenile salmon habitat?
  2. 97% of abstracts that expressed opinion on AGW (anthropogenic global warming) endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming….thus the perception of a massive conflict or open to debate is misleading!
  3. Some impacts from climate change are difficult to detect or difficult to attribute to climate change (or any combinations thereof)
  4. Climate is the statistics of weather. If the statistics are changing, then climate change is thought to be occurring
  5. Effects of climate change will differ among regions and within regions. Scale of observation matters!
  6. The Kenai River watershed contains a diverse patchwork of habitat
  7. Climate change a large concern for managers on the Kenai River
  8. Often it is hard to infer signals of climate change because of other disturbances that are occurring simultaneously (e.g. dams are built, hatchery fish, etc…)
  9. The Kenai is largely immune to other sources of disturbance  besides harvest and very small hatchery production of sockeye salmon
  10. Ben compares patterns of growth and feeding behavior in three contrasting habitats across a gradient of snow melt contribution and water residency time
  11. What appears to be good salmon habitat can be misleading! Only the fish really know what is good vs. poor habitat
  12. Could rising water temperatures increase or actually decrease juvenile salmon growth?
  13. Management strategies in the face of climate change? Maintain the natural processes in rivers and acknowledge that not all habitats will respond the same

Summary from our conversation with Hannah Harrison

    1. Originally from Homer from a commercial fishing family…which introduced a recognized bias to her work that she struggled to overcome
    2. Cook Inlet home to three primary fishing cultures; drift net fleet, set-net fleet, sportfishery & personal use
    3. Setnets fish affixed to shore along the east side of Cook Inlet (predominately) and the drift-netters are more mobile
    4. ‘Fish Wars’ describe the dynamic of upper Cook Inlet due to conflict among user groups
    5. In 2011-2012 study asked among other things ‘What are the primary reasons for the conflict’, what do users have in common? How does conflict impact the sustainability of local resources. Could shared values be a starting point for resolution?
    6. Unwillingness of groups to engage is a major barrier to progress
    7. Groups tended to strive towards unrealistic goals…such as closing one group down (win-lose dynamics)
    8. Arguments remain in memories for a longtime and can be passed across generations
    9. Media that does not provide nuance to issues can do unintentional damage
    10. Groups tend to dehumanize others: “They’re not even from here!”
    11. What do groups agree on? First was importance of Family (spending time together, teaching work ethic, etc..); Community mattered “we make our community thrive”;  sustainability “everyone hates the fight” “without us the Board of Fish would have fished us into oblivion”
    12. How would he Kenai River user community respond to a crisis like Pebble? Would they coalesce around a common enemy or be to fractured to use  the wisdom of the crowd?

Summary from Anna Sturrock

  1. Many species of Pacific salmon due to dynamic shifting environments
  2. Central Valley salmon the ‘world leaders’ in salmon diversity…juvenile or adult going in or out of the Sacramento River every day of the year
  3. Status of world leader in diversity at risk.  Winter run are endangered, spring run is threatened, fall run are a species of concern (not immune to collapse)
  4. Collapse of fall run fish in 2009, 2010
  5. Why? Perhaps an erosion of diversity in life history.
  6. An  imbalance with water supply vs. demand.  Less in the south but more demand. Solution was some serious engineering of levees and canals
  7. When and how much rain comes is highly variable! And if it falls more as rain than snow in the mountains then it has consequences for amount of water over the summer
  8. 25 million residents rely on Delta water
  9. The Delta has been transformed from a diverse habitat complex to a stable homogenous area where habitats are disconnected and greatly disrupted
  10. San Joaquin listed as most endangered river as listed by American Rivers (environmental NGO) in 2014
  11. Amount of freshwater strongly correlated with adult returns…the wetter the better
  12. Other major solution to problems was perceived to be hatcheries
  13. Survival so poor of fish moving through the Delta that a solution was to truck the fish from the hatchery
  14. Otolith microchemistry a useful tool for reconstructing a fish’s life history
  15. By reconstructing size of the fish that had survived we can see that being larger going to sea is not always better

Summary of Curry Cunningham’s talk

  1. The Sacramento/San Joaquin is perhaps the epicenter of interactions between salmon & society
  2. Very important region politically and ecologically
  3. Genetic diversity of salmon abounds still but less so than historically
  4. Spring-run Chinook historically the most abundant, lost access to tributary habitat (dam construction) and listed as threatened under the ESA in 1999
  5. Winter-run Chinook blocked by Shasta Dam in 1945, remain spawning below the dams; Endangered under ESA in 2004
  6. Fall-run likely as historically as abundant as spring-run; supported by very heavy hatchery production (ca. 32 million releases per year)
  7. How much is the SF Bay Chinook salmon worth to commercial fisheries? Less than dungeness crab. But still a lot…4.7 million prior to collapse of 2008.
  8. Value of sport fisheries more than 10x higher!
  9. California the most populous state (38.8 million, 12% of all us); fifth largest agriculture and food commodities in world
  10. Best soil for agriculture is in the San Joaquin but virtually all the water falls in the north (Sierra Nevada). Solution to the problem was to move the water to where it is abundant to where needed
  11. Done through a series of canals…need to overcome geography and need pumping facilities to move water. 54%  of water goes to agricultural demand, 32 % to the environment, and 14% of urban
  12. An increasing amount of water is diverted upstream locations before entering the delta; currently 48% of water entering watershed from upstream makes it to the delta
  13. Increasing urban demand for water and decline in agriculture
  14. Mismatches between when water is available (spring) and when it is needed (summer)
  15. Currently we are in a deteriorating delta area
  16. Dams have host of issues: barriers, temperature effects, diverst water and change salinity, and costly to maintain.
  17. Other major changes are in the delta itself…delta had very rich soils from flooding and so in the 1830s major efforts to dike and create levies to avoid flooding and tap into high value agricultural grounds, enter Bureau of Reclamation
  18. Yolo bypass channel provides opportunistic use of good rearing habitat…but it is rarely open
  19. How do we circumvent poor survival in the system? Many hatcheries trucking to fish to the delta…downside is that the fish stray at much higher rates
  20. On average approximately 50% of the fish on spawning grounds are first generation hatchery fish
  21. Have lost a lot of diversity in timing of release and size at release…consequence?
  22. Options for additional exports do not fare well for salmon. Under scenarios of 30% more expected to drive populations to extinction