March 17, 2004
"In the past, the Area M fishermen were restricted to 8.3 percent of the projected harvest of sockeye bound for Bristol Bay, and specific numbers of chums, some of which are headed for the AYK," Murkowski said. "A previous board then eliminated the caps in favor of a system of time and area closures. The most recent approach adopted by the current board is more open-ended, expanding the amount of time fishermen in Area M are allowed to set their nets. It will be the responsibility of the Department of Fish and Game to determine that healthy escapements are getting through to Western Alaska rivers and whether changes to the June fishery might be needed. We also need to make sure that all the fish caught are counted, that none are thrown overboard, so we know what we're dealing with."
"I want this fishery intensely monitored to make sure it plays out the way the board has estimated it will. Some of the stocks of salmon involved present the concern for a conservative level of management. We have to be careful with those stocks in particular. If the fish returns do not track with what is forecast, we'll need to know the reason why and take action depending on what the situation calls for."
Murkowski said he has also received some complaints of improper activity during the board's recent decision-making process.
"Those allegations are
being looked into, and if they turn out to be true, they will
be dealt with," he said. "The Board of Fisheries is
appointed to make decisions based on the best interest of all
Alaskans and not to favor special interests. If the board process
was improperly influenced, appropriate action will be taken."
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