Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:04 PM on Thursday, March 3, 2011

Board of Fisheries Update

By Cristy Fry

The Board of Fisheries has adopted the action plan to restrict the drift fleet to an expanded corridor, taking away Drift Area 1, for one period between July 9 and July 15.

They also voted Tuesday afternoon on a drift gillnet management plan further restricting the drift fleet to the expanded corridor with no option for Drift Area 1 for one period between July 16 and July 31 on years when the sockeye return to the Kenai River is predicted to be below 2.3 million using the Didson sonar. The purpose of this restriction is to allow more coho to migrate to the Northern District. The original proposal was to take away Drift Area 1 for two periods. Current regulation restricts the drift fleet to Drift Area 1 and the Kenai and Kasilof corridors for 2 openings during that period on Kenai runs of less than 2 million sockeye by the Bendix sonar.

The board also voted to change language in the part of the management plan that covers Kenai River run strengths of 2-4 million sockeye, to provide for one restricted period per week during the period from July 16 to July 31, instead of two periods any time during that time frame. Previously, those restricted periods usually took place in Drift Area 1 and the Kenai and Kasilof corridor. Managers now will have to choose either Drift Area 1 or the expanded corridor, not both.

Other action taken Tuesday included converting the numbers of the Kenai River escapement goals and run size predictions to reflect the use of the Didson sonar, instead of the older Bendix sonar which is no longer in use. Side-by-side tests showed the Didson counting on average 40 percent more fish. The in-river goals using the Didson sonar on the three-tier system are now 850,000 to 1,050,000 on runs of less than 2.3 million, 950,000 to 1,150,000 on runs from 2.3 to 4.6 million, and 1,050,000 to 1.3 million on runs over 4.6 million. The board has not yet voted on changes to the Kenai River escapement goals.

The Kasilof River Optimum Escapement Goal, which is not based on a tier system, is now 160,000 to 390,000.