Why local fishermen protested the Kenai River Classic
Many people are asking why the Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, or KAFC, supported demonstrations against the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, or KRSA, and the Kenai River Classic fund raising event.
Here is a press release KAFC issued to media outlets regarding our participation in the demonstrations against KRSA and the Kenai River Classic that took place last week:
“The Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition was formed over ten years ago by a group of local concerned citizens including business owners, ex-guides and retired fishery professionals who believed there was a need in our community for all user groups to work together for sustainable fishery resource management.
“We recognize the value of diversity in our community and support a fair allocation of resources for all user groups (commercial fishermen, guided anglers, non-guided anglers, personal use fishermen and subsistence users). This resource sustains us physically, spiritually and economically:
“Abundant fishery resources are a driving force in why we live here. We also like to consider ourselves a “Joe Fisherman” organization (no gender bias intended) since we have no commercial interests.
“We recognize that outside corporate interests, through the Kenai Classic, have funded one politically dominant organization affecting Kenai River resource issues. KAFC believes this has left the general public, municipalities and other organizations marginalized.
“We believe the Kenai River as well as community resources have been negatively impacted. We believe that sound biological principles, not politics, should be the driving force behind resource management. It is time to return to biological management in the best interests of all Alaskans as directed by the Alaska Constitution.
“KAFC is demonstrating against the Kenai Classic and KRSA in order to make the participants and donors more aware of how this money is often times spent to spread divisiveness and conflict throughout our community and the fisheries management process. KRSA’s business model seems to be that of power politics rather than cooperative actions to achieve their goals. This endeavor is not well received in our community.
“They have demonstrated this time and again with their lobbying efforts to keep the Board of Fisheries meetings away from the Kenai/Soldotna area so that they have a better chance at controlling the outcomes in their favor. Additionally, their unethical treatment of respected local resident, Robert Ruffner, at the BOF confirmation hearings in Juneau last year were reprehensible. They relied on a tactic of untrue character assassination and false allegations to unseat Robert from a position on the BOF.
“There are many other examples of unethical behavior from KRSA that lead us to believe that they are not good neighbors or the type of organization we desire in our community. They have been rejected by all municipalities, the Borough, and the Chamber’s of Commerce in both Kenai and Soldotna as not good business partners.
Our goal is that the Kenai Classic participants and donors will get the message.
Dwight Kramer is a KAFC board member and describes himself as a “Joe Fisherman” private angler dedicated to the well being of the Kenai River fisheries resources.