Elizabeth Earl

Ocean conditions throw uncertainty into salmon forecast

KENAI — After last year’s disastrously low pink salmon runs to drainages all across the Gulf of Alaska, the forecasts offer a little more hope for the 2017 season.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers in Southeast are predicting a strong pink year, with 43 million fish set to return, slightly greater than the recent 10-year average of 39 million fish.

UAF says ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to Kenai salmon research offer

KENAI — The University of Alaska Fairbanks turned down an offer for funding for research on Kenai River king salmon because it would only come from one side of Cook Inlet’s allocation war.

The university’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, consistently recognized as one of the top fisheries research institutes in the country, regularly conducts studies on fish populations around the state. Funding comes from a variety of sources, both industry and from the university’s budget.

Stakeholders of all types leave Cook Inlet meeting unsatisfied

KENAI — The Board of Fisheries wrapped up its Upper Cook Inlet meeting with few changes for the inlet’s commercial drift gillnet fleet, with small gains possible for the drifters and disagreements between the sport and commercial users left intact.

The drift gillnet fleet in Upper Cook Inlet, composed of about 570 limited-entry permit holders, wanted the Board of Fisheries to dismantle some of the regulations that have been enacted over the years restricting their fishing time and area.

On Kenai dipnet, a call for cooperation

Although people debate the value of the Kenai and Kasilof personal-use dipnet fisheries, they all find at least one thing that could be or is an issue with them.

Lack of coho data complicates fish board discussions

Although coho salmon populations have played an important role in many of the decisions made at the Board of Fisheries’ Upper Cook Inlet meeting so far, one evident detail is that there’s a lot of data missing.

Board passes sweeping change for early run kings

March 5

Early run Kenai River king salmon will now have more protection in the middle river and management will be more conservative after the Board of Fisheries unanimously approved a rewrite of the early run management plan.

Board of Fish adds 1 district-wide opener for Inlet drifters

Upper Cook Inlet’s drift gillnet fleet will get another 12 hours of fishing time in July, but no one is 100 percent happy about it.

Board of Fish adds 1 district-wide opener for drifters

Upper Cook Inlet’s drift gillnet fleet will get another 12 hours of fishing time in July, but no one is 100 percent happy about it.

Board rewrites Kenai late-run king plan

After a day of heavy clashes and divided votes, the Board of Fisheries reformed late-run king salmon management on the Kenai River to loosen restrictions a little more for east side setnetters.

The Board of Fisheries spent Tuesday afternoon painstakingly, paragraph by paragraph, going through the management plan for the Kenai River’s late-run king salmon. Under the current management regime, a lot rides on the escapement numbers of late-run kings, both in the sportfishery and the commercial setnet fishery.

Board loosens some season restrictions on setnetters

Upper Cook Inlet’s east side setnetters may get more fishing time next season.

The Board of Fisheries passed two proposals Feb. 28 that relaxed some of the season restrictions on the east side set gillnet fishery, which operates in two sections between Ninilchik and Nikiski. The result is that fishermen may get an extra week in August and a subset of fishermen in North Kalifornsky Beach may get a few extra days in July.

Board of Fisheries revises sockeye goals for Kenai River

Significantly behind schedule and deep into the mathematical weeds, the Board of Fisheries spent most of its first day of deliberations on one proposal to amend the escapement goals for Kenai River late-run sockeye.

Proposals would change dipnet fishery area, season

KENAI — Like most fisheries issues in Upper Cook Inlet, there’s a lot of disagreement about what to do with the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery.

The fishery, which takes place every July 10–31, is the most popular of its kind in the state. Thousands of Alaskans jump into boats and flock to the Kenai River’s north and south beaches to get a shot at the sockeye salmon that return to the river every year, harvesting some 259,057 sockeye in 2016, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Setnetters seek looser restrictions from fish board

KENAI — Some east side Cook Inlet setnetters want the Board of Fisheries to loosen some of the regulations it has adopted over the years restricting the fishery.

On the Kenai Peninsula, which is connected by road to the most populated areas of Alaska, user conflicts between commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries are common. The regulatory meetings before the Board of Fisheries are often contentious, with restrictions on one fishery resulting in additional allocation for another.

Governor's budget would cut DOT jobs

The proposed cuts in Gov. Bill Walker’s fiscal year 2018 budget would fall heavily across the state, including broad reductions to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ design department.

Board of Fish denies most winter kings proposals

Despite a number of proposals and public comments in favor, the Board of Fisheries made few changes to the Lower Cook Inlet’s winter saltwater king salmon fishery.

During its final Lower Cook Inlet cycle meeting Saturday in Homer, the board took up a variety of proposals related to the fishery, which typically takes place between Oct. 1 and March 31 in the saltwater south of Bluff Point.

Real time data on the Russian River

Cook Inletkeeper is gathering more data on one of the most-loved rivers on the Kenai Peninsula, the Russian River.

The Homer-based conservation organization recently installed its first temperature monitoring station on the river, a snow-fed tributary of the Kenai River that flows through the Chugach National Forest and joins the river just west of Cooper Landing. Every year, thousands of anglers flock to the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers to fish for the sockeye salmon that return to spawn there.

When it comes to Alaska LNG project, the big elephant in the room is cost

The Alaska LNG Project is still moving toward a final filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but some details remain murky.

Tourism industry is booming in Alaska

Alaska likely saw another record-breaking tourism year in 2016, according to preliminary numbers from the industry.

More than 1 million cruise ship passengers came through the state for the first time since 2009, according to the Alaska chapter of the Cruse Lines International Association. Border crossings from Canada were up 13 percent and numbers of outbound air traffic passengers between May and August were up 6 percent, both figures climbing for the second year in a row, according to figures from the Juneau-based research firm the McDowell Group.

What's killing Susitna sockeye salmon?

If any fish population in Upper Cook Inlet could be considered in trouble, Shell Lake’s sockeye could.

Many professionals across Alaska will have to pay more to work

Juniper Lanmon-Freeman cried the first time she attended the birth of a child. A licensed midwife, Lanmon-Freeman now delivers two to three babies per month for mothers at their homes. But the job goes far beyond that — by the time she delivers the child, she’s spent weeks with the mother.

“(On) my last birth, I visited her 13 times before she had her baby,” she said. “When they’re in labor, you’ve built this relationship with them. It’s more like a sister relationship or a good female friend.”

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