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Culture and Science Clash About King Salmon

To mike heimbook

Has been updated: 35 minutes ago Release: 35 minutes ago

It is one thing for partisan stakeholders to publish their views in newspapers. But when newspaper editorial boards do the same, we need to hold them to higher standards of understanding and accuracy.

The ADN editorial board recently followed up with a series of articles on Alaskan king salmon troubles with their own plea for science to “really” step in and do something. At the same time, they seemed to have elevated the importance of cultural practices to their highest trump card position.

You would have to stay far away from all scientific fishing news to know just how much time and effort is being put into researching and rejuvenating North American king salmon stocks. Hatchery in British Columbia helps Alaskans and visitors to maintain a steady supply of king salmon, making it available year-round in coastal waters. Still, there are many who oppose hatcheries. How do you balance that?

Alaska has a constitutional obligation to manage its fish stocks for the benefit of the people and not a specific group of people. It’s a balancing act on many levels. Not just culture.

If people’s dependence on Yukon salmon is significant, then maybe we should listen to Canadians complaining about king salmon being caught in Alaska for spawning in Canadian waters of the Alaska River. .

People do pretty awful things to king salmon stocks. It is widely understood that catching and releasing kings in spawning rivers deprives them of so much energy that their spawning potential is greatly reduced. For some reason, the Kenai River still allows it, but they’ve closed everything else, so they’re pretending that King Salmon is back.

The federal trawl fishery in the Bering Sea also allows large amounts of king salmon as bycatch. This is because offshore towing fleets were smart enough to force native coastal CDQ groups to buy out federal fishing vessels. So while upstream residents scream about king bycatch, downstream indigenous businesses cannot support severe bycatch limits. Because it costs money. We can’t even mandate observer coverage for the Pacific Gulf trawl fleet, so we have no idea about the impact on king salmon or halibut stocks.

The irony of our situation on the federal council is that Alaska has the majority of seats. Don’t let this get you down. When it comes to bycatch showdowns over king salmon, the native CDQ group, which has a lot of influence over the selection of seats in Congress, could be one of its worst enemies.

If the ADN wants to be candid about us shooting ourselves in the leg while aiming to protect our king, think about killing him indiscriminately on the high seas with trawlers. In the river, you gleefully pull the hook out of your mouth, completely depleting your libido as you head for the only reproductive experience of your life. And do we need science to understand why this is bad?

mike heimbook I am a second generation commercial fisherman and a member of the Alaska Fisheries Commission. He lives in Homer.

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