Earth Day was this past Wednesday. I can remember back in the seventies when this day, for a lot of folks, amounted to a festival where things amounted to almost a worship activity of the earth and all its creations. At that time, the environmental movement was going strong along with the “hippie” movement. We are charged by our Creator with being “wise stewards” of the earth and all its resources, but that shouldn’t be misunderstood to require worshipping creation and not the Creator!
It’s been another quiet week on “hunkering down” at home. I got all caught up on burning household paper and cardboard collected over the winter while the burn permit is still valid. If you haven’t heard, the state Division of Forestry is suspending all burn permits beginning May 1. If you need to do some small burning, get your permit, and get busy!
I also did some diesel fuel transferring out in my storage building to make room for another purchase. I pumped out the low spot in our driveway that tends to fill up with melt water and can get as much as a foot deep depending on snowfall amounts and thawing conditions. This spot is near the garage, so I must be careful the garage doesn’t flood.
I also received all the crossbow add-ons I mentioned in a previous column and installed them on my crossbow. Three of the four items are specific to the make of my crossbow. Of the four items, two require adjustment. One affects the string length and the other affects how the sights are set. Once the snow melts and the yard dries out, I can get outside and do the necessary shooting to make the adjustments.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued one news release about the Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishing outlook and two affecting commercial fishing requirements for the 2020 season.
The first involves the overall run strength forecast. The UCI forecast is for 4.3 million sockeye salmon. The overall harvest by all user groups is expected to be 2.5 million fish. Of the total number forecast, 2.2 million are for the Kenai River; 723,000 for the Kasilof River; 571,000 for the Susitna Drainage; and 121,000 for Fish Creek. Both the Kenai and Kasilof projections are below the 20-year averages (38% and 26%, respectively). Both the Susitna and Fish Creek projections are above their 20-year averages (49% and 42%, respectively).
The Sport Fish Division has issued other news releases for the 2020 season restricting fishing for king salmon in Susitna Drainage units 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to catch-and-release only. Unit 2 is closed to all king salmon fishing. As explained in the Commercial Fisheries News Announcement #1, under the paired restrictions implemented for the Susitna Drainage areas (specifically the Deshka River), when fishing is restricted to catch-and-release only, the Northern District commercial setnet fishing hours are reduced from a 12-hour fishing period to a 6-hour period.
Escapements into the Deshka River will be monitored during the season and if run strengths are significantly stronger than forecast and retention of king salmon is allowed in the Deshka River sport fishery, commercial fishing times could be extended.
According to the Commercial Fisheries News Announcement #2, commercial set-net fishing is closed during the directed king salmon fishery from the wood chip dock on the west side of Cook Inlet to the mouth of the Susitna River for the 2020 season. King salmon from the Chuitna River remain a stock of management concern, with sport fishing being closed since 2011. Regulations specify that if sport fishing in the Chuitna River is closed, then the area between the wood chip dock and the Susitna River is closed to commercial fishing.
The Central District Commercial Drift Net management plan doesn’t allow for any directed king salmon fishing. Since the drift fleet won’t even be fishing until either the third Monday in June or June 19, whichever is later, they have no effect on king salmon returns into the Northern District.
The Board of Fisheries made several other changes to the Central District Drift Net Fisheries Management Plan at their February, 2020 meeting which should significantly aid in pulsing more silver salmon through the commercial fishery, but nothing was changed for kings since the fleet doesn’t impact king salmon returning to their Northern District natal streams.
From what I’m hearing on TV, it sounds like some of the COVID-19 restrictions may start easing up this coming week. Won’t that be nice!