Final Actions from BOF

23 Jan

FINAL ACTIONS ON GILLNET-INTERESTED PROPOSALS
Board of Fisheries, Sitka Alaska, January 2018

Proposal 132 =  NO ACTION. Amend sport king salmon regulations in Districts 11, 12, 14 and 15 based on the Taku River king salmon preseason escapement estimate.
USAG opposed this but it was withdrawn so the Board took no action.

Proposal 137 = FAILED. Increase the regional resident king salmon possession limit when the Southeast Alaska Area preseason king salmon abundance index is greater than 2.0.
USAG opposed this and so did the Board (vote 1/6)

Proposal 139 = PASSED. Eliminate provisions for a rotational fishery in Southeast Cove Terminal Harvest Area and allow the department to manage the fishery in consultation with hatchery operator.
USAG supported this and so did the Board

Proposal 140 = NO ACTION. Prohibit use of drift gillnet gear for commercial salmon fishing in the Anita Bay THA during the 2018-2020 fishing seasons.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS (the regional seine group) in ‘RC153’ SEAS, the author of this proposal, withdrew it so NO ACTION was taken by the Board.

Proposal 141 = PASSED AS AMENDED. Adjust net rotation schedules for drift gillnet and purse seines in Deep Inlet and Anita Bay on a 1 day gillnet to 1 day seine net rotations, starting the first EO of 2018 to the last EO of 2020.
This USAG proposal was passed by the Board (vote 6/0) as amended by ‘RC263’, which is the agreement between USAG and SEAS written with proper legal language.

Proposal 142 = NO ACTION. Modify drift gillnet and purse seine fishing rotations in the Deep Inlet THA.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS in ‘RC153’ SEAS, NO ACTION was taken by the Board.

Proposal 143 = NO ACTION. Change the time, ratio for drift gillnet gear to purse seine gear openings in Deep Inlet THA.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS in ‘RC153’ SEAS, the author of this proposal, withdrew it so NO ACTION was taken by the Board.

Proposal 144 = PASSED AS AMENDED. Allow increased commercial salmon fishing opportunity with troll gear in the Deep Inlet THA.
USAG opposed this troll proposal in our on-time written comments. The Board passed it after changing “shall” to “may”

Proposal 145 = NO ACTION. Allow commercial salmon fishing with purse seine gear in Nakat Inlet THA.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS in ‘RC153’ SEAS, the author of this proposal, withdrew it so no action was taken by the Board.

Proposal 146 = FAILED. Do not include enhanced salmon produced by private nonprofit hatcheries in SE AK Area Enhanced Salmon Allocation Management Plan gear-specific value allocations.
USAG opposed this and so did the Board (vote 0/6).

Proposal 149 = PASSED. Extend the closing date for salmon harvest by the hatchery permit holder in Deep Inlet SHA.
USAG supported this and so did the Board (vote 7/0).

Proposal 150 = PASSED. Establish a special harvest area in Crawfish Inlet.
USAG supported this and so did the Board (vote 6/0).

Proposal 151 = PASSED AS AMENDED. Establish a terminal harvest area and management plan for Carroll Inlet.
USAG supported this and so did the Board (vote 6/0) with amended language found in ‘RC284’.

Proposal 152 = PASSED. Update area description and coordinates of the Anita Bay THA boundaries.
USAG supported this and so did the Board (vote 7/0).

Proposal 153 = NO ACTION. Repeal the District 1 Pink Salmon Management Plan.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS in ‘RC153’ SEAS, the author of this proposal, withdrew it so NO ACTION was taken by the Board.

Proposal 154 = NO ACTION. Establish a management plan for pink salmon in Lower Clarence Strait.
USAG withdrew this proposal we submitted due to our agreement with the seiners found in ‘RC153’ so the Board took no action on it.

Proposal 155 = NO ACTION. Eliminate the wild sockeye salmon harvest limit for the District 12 commercial salmon purse seine fishery.
USAG opposed this proposal in our on-time written comments. Because of the agreement made between USAG and SEAS in ‘RC153’ SEAS, the author of this proposal, withdrew it so NO ACTION was taken by the Board.
                                                                                        
Proposal 156 = NO ACTION. Modify the Hawk Inlet commercial wild sockeye cap of 15,000.
USAG withdrew this proposal we submitted due to our agreement with the seiners found in ‘RC153’ so the Board took no action on it.

Proposal 157 = PASSED AS AMENDED. Include wild sockeye salmon harvested in the Amalga Harbor Special Harvest Area in the District 12 commercial salmon purse seine fishery wild sockeye harvest limit.
This USAG proposal was passed by the Board (vote 6/0) as amended by ‘RC263’, which is the agreement between USAG and SEAS written with proper legal language.

Proposal 158 = NO ACTION. Include wild sockeye salmon harvested in the Amalga Harbor SHA in the wild sockeye salmon harvest limit for the commercial salmon purse seine fishery in District 12.
USAG supported this in our on-time comments. Due to the agreement USAG made with SEAS, the Board took no action.

Proposal 160 = PASSED. Allow commercial fishing for salmon in waters near selected streams in Boat Harbor, Anita Bay, Deep Inlet, and Nakat Inlet Terminal Harvest Areas up to a straight line between the seaward extremities of the exposed tideland banks.
We submitted this one with SEAFA (Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance). It passed (vote 7/0) given substitute language found in ‘RC248’.

Proposal 169 = NO ACTION. Open Section 6-D the second Sunday of June to commercial fishing for salmon with drift gillnet gear.
USAG withdrew this proposal we submitted due to our agreement with the seiners found in ‘RC153’ so the Board took no action on it.

Proposal 170 = NO ACTION. Open a portion of District 10 the third Sunday of June to commercial fishing for salmon with drift gillnet gear only.
USAG withdrew this proposal we submitted due to our agreement with the seiners found in ‘RC153’ so the Board took no action on it.

Proposal 171 = PASSED. Add District 6 to the mesh-size restriction area and allow implementation of the mesh-size restriction for an additional month.
USAG supported this in on-time comments for king salmon conservation. The Board passed it (vote 6/0).

Proposal 173 = PASSED. Allow commercial fisheries using troll gear to target enhanced chum salmon in Districts 12 and 14 to continue by removing the sunset provision.
USAG didn’t submit written comments but supported it during the ‘committee as a whole’; Board passed it (vote 6/0).

Proposal 192 = FAILED. Allow personal use fishing for salmon in District 11.
USAG opposed this and so did the Board (vote 0/7).

Proposal 193 = FAILED. Establish a personal use salmon set net gillnet fishery in Section 15-A.
USAG opposed this and so did the Board (vote 0/7).

Proposal 194 = FAILED. Allow personal use fishing for salmon in District 15.
USAG opposed this and so did the Board (vote 0/7).
Draft: McDonald Lake Sockeye Salmon Stock Status and Action Plan, 2018 = PASSED WITH ‘OPTION B’ FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERIES
USAG’s on-time comments supported ‘option B’, page 13. This is also noted in ‘RC285’, a document that shows support for ‘option B’ by SEAFA, SEAS, USAG and PVOA (Petersburg Vessel Owners).

Draft: Chilkat River and King Salmon River King Salmon Stock Status and Action Plan, 2018 = PASSED WITH ‘OPTION B’ FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERIES.
USAG’s on-time comments supported ‘option A, status quo’, page 19. We again supported ‘option A’ as noted in ‘RC259’. On January 19, Board of Fish members asked F&G to design amended options for the public to consider; found in ‘RC266’where ‘option B’ was amended for the net fleets. In response, USAG offered ‘RC312’, addressing each point in the new ‘option B’. Today just before lunch, Jan 23, another version came out as RC386. The final version that was voted in (vote 6/0) can be found in RC422.

Everything can be found on the BOF’s main meeting page: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo&date=01-11-2018&meeting=sitka

Thank you USAG Board for the considerable amount of time and energy each of you spent working on this BOF session. The personal commitment needed to fully represent our industry and gear group takes extensive knowledge, countless hours, some sleepless nights and is very humbling. Thanks also to those who wrote comments and/or testified in person — I counted at least 42! Whether you agreed with USAG’s positions or not, it’s important to speak up when needed.

Yesterday, I sent a letter from USAG’s Vice President, which I will copy and paste again here:

As I sit on the plane returning from 11 days of Board of Fish meetings in Sitka I would like to take this time to explain to the fleet some of the pertinent points of reaching the agreement.  Max and I, both vested in shellfish showed up prior to the finfish portion of the meeting.  The meeting was not well attended at this time and we had frequent opportunities to meet with board members and vet some of our issues.  It was understood that they knew we were above our allocation of enhanced fish and likely would “move the needle” in some fashion.

The main proposals facing us were 1- prohibit gillnetting in Anita Bay, 2- seine in Nakat, 1 day gillnet to 2 days seine in Deep Inlet.  We all understand that we enjoy the benefits from enhanced fish and particularly those created from DIPAC, but to what level? The enhanced allocation plan puts the gillnet allocation at 24 to 27% of enhanced fish.  Recently we have caught between 35 to 45% of all enhanced value.  In 2017 due to large DIPAC returns preliminary data shows the gillnet fleet harvested 47% of all enhanced fish, this is 20% over the top end of our allocated range.  With total contribution from enhanced fish just over 50 million dollars in 2017 our allocation overage is in surplus of 10 million dollars.  The enhanced allocation plan has specific language that adjustments in THA’s is how we solve these imbalances.  How does the BOF swing the needle for that number?
Our only argument was to get the BOF to look at the whole picture which is a reasonable argument, but a complicated one.  It was going to take time and the board’s undivided attention. Unfortunately we did not have that, the meeting was already a day over schedule with 2 1/2 days of public testimony, the most controversial Sitka sac roe decisions yet and the most comprehensive SE wide Chinook stock of concern plan to date statewide.
We did not feel we would get the attention needed to change four individual allocation plans because we were over in one of them.  In listening to the board deliberate on other proposals it became apparent that some of the members were very apposed to sunset clauses.  This was a game changer.  If the board decided to “swing the needle” and give us 1/2 seine at Deep Inlet or Anita Bay or both we knew it is likely we would not drop below our range until survivals fail at DIPAC, we might be stuck with that schedule for many years.  We elected to take a short term loss we had control of rather than a potentially long term devastating loss.  We understood the seine fleet wanted value in 2018 with one of the lowest pink predictions in recent times it is likely they will not have much opportunity in the common property fisheries.  This will also result in less chum being harvested in common property seine fisheries allowing more to reach THA’s. This resulted in the 1/2 seine rotation at Deep Inlet shifting enhanced value to seine in a season they would need it most.  Both fleets will benefit from DIPAC grant monies to offset cost recovery in Deep Inlet, and is somewhat of a mitigating factor for local gillnetters, even tho the ratio is not in our favor there will be opportunity in August when it was closed in 2016 for cost recovery.
As we considered the Hawk Inlet portion of this deal we weighed the pros and cons.  We know fishermen in the North would not approve, yet we would not have had a deal otherwise. We also feel there is very likely to be no increased opportunity in 2018 and 2020 with low pink abundance.  There is likely to be some increased seine opportunity in 2019 with moderate pink returns, even so we expect the area manager to manage conservatively unless it is a very large pink return.  Most opportunity will occur after the majority of the summer chum run.

There was considerable input in this decision.  We had 10 individual gillnetters in the room from all throughout SE.  There was three NSRAA board members, two SSRAA board members, two treaty reps and a DIPAC board member all consulting.  We looked at what we thought was the best odds for the greates overall value to our fleet.  The final decision was made in time to have a signed agreement submitted within a half hour of the deadline for testimony.  We had a stack of testimony cards ready to go if the agreement was not reached.

A huge benefit of this agreement is we received support for getting gillnetters included in THA’s at SE Cove near Kake and Crawfish Inlet.  It is now up to the discretion of the NSRAA board to include us in the rotational schedules at those sites.  There are decent to large releases at both of these sites.
For the 2018 season It is likely due to local Sitka gillnetters voicing their concerns that gear groups at NSRAA will be willing to come together to form a rotational schedule that works for the benefit of all. Please talk to your reps if you have a schedule suggestion.  Having a functional relationship at the regional associations with the other gear groups will be in everyone’s benefit not only at NSRAA but SSRAA as well as we consider options for releases of new chum production.

We know there are those that are not happy and feel compromised, but we feel we made the best decision to retain the most opportunity and value for our fleet.

Chris Guggenbickler

Hope you all have a prosperous 2018!
-Cynthia Wallesz

Executive Director
United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters
PO Box 2196
Petersburg, AK 99833
(208) 995-7400 (cell)
ph: (253) 237-3099 Google Voice
http://www.akgillnet.org/
usag.alaska@gmail.com