Howard Delo

Welcome to yet another new year! I trust you had a safe New Year’s Eve and didn’t disobey the “no fireworks” borough ordinances. Who am I kidding? We don’t live within the Houston city limits but, based on the volume of fireworks shot off in our area, you’d think we lived right next to the fireworks stands!

The clean-up continues. We still have a way to go but everything is at least functional, and we can find what we might need, even if it means having to dig through a cleaned-up pile of saved stuff or looking through an area of stuff yet to be sorted. Since the house was turned “a** over tea kettle,” we’re going ahead with a bunch of minor remodeling as part of the recovery.

I’ve been wanting to get rid of an old couch in the basement and replace it with storage shelving. I’ve got a lot of outdoor gear which, to date, has been piled on the couch. We’ve both been wanting to get rid of an old queen size mattress, base, and frame that has been in our “spare” bedroom since we moved into the house. About all we ever used the bed for was storing boxes of Christmas decorations on it. Once the bed is gone, we’re planning to put in some storage shelves for canned goods and the like.

I need to replace the shelving where I had my ammunition, bullets, cartridge cases, and reloading powders stored. When everything started shaking, the shelving buckled at the leg joint where the upper half of the shelf began. Everything came tumbling down and was a major factor in getting around in the basement until I got the storage cans moved out into the garage. I knew the stuff was heavy, but I thought the shelves were up to the task. Had they been mounted on wheels, things might have survived. It is what it is!

The Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission will be meeting with the Borough Assembly and our Valley legislative delegation this week to discuss needs and wants for our area during the upcoming legislative session. The meeting will be over as you read this, but I’m writing the column ahead to meet deadlines, so I’m taking my best guess at what the commission will be presenting.

At our last MSBFWC meeting, we learned we would be involved in this meeting and would have around 10 minutes to make our specific needs and wants known. Our discussion centered around the genetics identification work being done in Cook Inlet with king, sockeye, and Coho salmon.

The Genetics Section of the Commercial Fisheries Division has been working for several years developing baseline genetics information which allows the identification of specific salmon populations by area or river system. The MSBFWC, through the borough, earmarked several hundred-thousand dollars in research funding to continue this project. The researchers have a pretty good baseline for all three salmon species and can, with samples taken from commercial or sport fishing catches, say where that fish originated and where it was returning to.

This ability to identify a salmon’s origin has major implications in managing the inlet’s commercial, personal use, subsistence, and sport fisheries. This genetics tool would greatly enhance fisheries managers’ ability to target large and healthy runs of salmon for harvest while keeping most pressure off the smaller and more fragile salmon stocks. The commission sees this technology as maybe the biggest and brightest tool in decades to advance scientific management of salmon stocks.

That’s the first point we want to make to the legislative folks. The second, and perhaps the most concerning point we wish to make is that, to date, we haven’t seen much evidence that the commercial fisheries managers have begun integrating knowledge gained through this magnificent tool into their management scenarios.

Everything costs money in this world. I think we’ll be lobbying the legislators to fund this genetics research and to stipulate that the results be incorporated into future Cook Inlet salmon management programs.

Historically, the percentage of different salmon stocks harvested in a commercial fishery was generally identified after the season to help in building run tables. The damage to smaller and weaker stocks was already done. With this new genetics information, very specific population identification can be had within a couple of days of harvest, allowing the shifting of effort or adjustment in timing of harvest.

Major advancements in salmon management strategies are literally in hand. Now they need to be incorporated!

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