By John Harrington
February 11, 2006
I appreciate your concerns for the ooligan.
A little history may be in order. Historically there was a small commercial fishery for ooligan on the Unuk. A few years back the Dept. of Fish and Game was concerned about the declining population and closed the commercial fishery, but allowed the personal use and subsistence fishery to happen. That year fishermen who had fished commercially, went ahead and fished using the 'subsistence' category and sold the fish. Their harvested was one of the four or five largest harvests on record. The fish have not recovered since.
Personally I love a small batch of ooligan. I would love to fish 30 or 40 lbs for my use. But the survival of the run is far more important. The biologists have been on the river during the run for the last few years.
This closure may already be too late. The ooligan run may have reached the lower limits of survivability. Unfortunately it is that mix of federal and state rules that have royally screwed up the fishery. I am pleased that everyone concerned is now aware of the problem. I hope that severe conservation measures during the next few years will return the run to a sustainable size. But I suspect that we will never see that annual 'sign of spring' when the ships arrive with ooligan.
About: John Harrington is a
local owner of a cabin on the Unuk. He writes, "I love fresh
and smoked ooligan. Every March I organize my life so that I
might be able to be on the river during the ooligan run."
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