Board of Fisheries releases proposals for 2014-15 cycle


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Fishermen and other stakeholders are asking the Alaska Board of Fisheries to consider 162 proposals to change subsistence, commercial, personal use and sport regulations in fisheries throughout the state during the 2014-15 meeting cycle.

The board proposal book for the upcoming meeting cycle can be downloaded from its website.

The longest meeting is likely to be the Southeast and Yakutat finfish meeting in Sitka, which is scheduled to run March 3 to Feb. 23, with 121 proposals on the table.

The majority of those address salmon management throughout the region, including 61 looking at changes to various commercial salmon fisheries, mostly from industry groups and fishery managers.

Sport proposals would also reduce the king salmon size limit, establish nonresident annual limits for coho, sockeye, chum and pink salmon in marine and fresh waters, and to allow party fishing in Southeast saltwater recreational fisheries.

Party fishing allows everyone onboard a fishing vessel to continue fishing until everyone has limited out, instead of requiring an individual to stop fishing once they reach their limit.

Several entities and individuals have also asked for a variety of changes to herring management in Southeast, including requests expanded commercial fisheries around Sitka, a reduced “amount necessary for subsistence” finding for the Sitka area, reduced harvest in the sac roe commercial fishery and a reduced area for the commercial herring fishery in part of Sitka Sound.

A handful of proposals would also expand the use of pot gear in groundfish fisheries, including dogfish and sablefish.

The finfish meeting also includes one proposal that will also be discussed at the Southeast/Yakutat shellfish meeting. That proposal would close fishing for bottomfish, crab and shrimp by all users within 300 feet of Cache Island.

The Prince William Sound and Upper Copper/Upper Susitna finfish meeting will be held in Cordova Dec. 3 to 8. The board received 57 proposals for changes in those fisheries.

For Prince William Sound’s commercial fisheries, the board will discuss gear changes, harvest limits, season dates and a new pollock fishery.

The Fairbanks Advisory Committee has also asked the board to consider a new biological escapement goal for Copper River king salmon of 28,000 kings — higher than the current sustainable escapement goal of 24,000.

Other proposals also address management and oversight of the subsistence and personal use fisheries on the Copper River — including more king salmon management tools and a check station for permit compliance — and changes to area sport fisheries, such as the ability to limit king salmon fishing to barbless hooks in the Upper Copper/Upper Susitna area, and an increased bag and possession limit for Arctic grayling in the Gulkana River drainage.

The Southeast and Yakutat crab, shrimp and miscellaneous shellfish meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21 to 27 in Wrangell, with 56 proposals on the agenda including one that overlaps with the Southeast and Yakutat finfish meeting.

Almost half of the proposals for that meeting address Dungeness crab management in Southeast, with requests to protect soft-shell crab, manage based on catch per unit effort in Upper Lynn Canal, close the commercial fisheries to protect personal use, subsistence and sport opportunity in near Angoon, Hoonah, Petersburg, Sitka and other communities.

Other proposals would create new golden king crab commercial fishery near Yakutat and Cross Sound, and change gear, reporting and size requirements for various king and tanner crab fisheries.

The board’s final meeting of the year will be the statewide Dungeness crab, shrimp and miscellaneous shellfish, except for Southeast/Yakutat, and supplemental issues meeting. So far, there are 34 proposals for discussion at that meeting, which will be held in Anchorage March 17 to 20.

The proposals for that meeting run the gamut and include reducing Cook Inlet razor clam harvests, changes in the Prince William Sound shrimp fisheries, and one to repeal the prohibition on felted soles while sport fishing in fresh water.

Additional changes to be discussed in October

The board will also meet in Juneau Oct. 15 to 16 to discuss agenda change requests. 

Those were due Aug. 18, and board Executive Director Glenn Haight wrote in an Aug. 19 email that about 28 were submitted. A breakdown by region or subject was not available as of that day, but Haight said they would likely be out in the near future.

An ACR typically asks the board to consider an issue out of cycle. In October, the board will decide whether or not to take up each request, and then add it to one of the regularly scheduled meetings — usually the supplemental issues meeting in March.

ADFG Biologist Pat Shields said the department had not submitted any agenda change requests for Cook Inlet fisheries, but that he thought stakeholders had submitted some, given that the 2014 fishery was the first year after a board meeting with a lot of changes to area salmon management plans.

Typically, the board also discusses other items at its October meeting, including setting the location of future meetings and hearing escapement goal reports for the fisheries being discussed in the coming year.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@alaskajournal.com.

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