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Commissioners to Monitor Area M Fishery


March 17, 2004
Wednesday - 1:10 am

Governor Frank Murkowski has directed Commissioner of Fish and Game Kevin Duffy, and Commissioner of Public Safety Bill Tandeske to closely monitor the effects of a recent Board of Fisheries decision allowing additional fishing time in the Area M June salmon fishery. Murkowski asked Duffy to make sure that the increase in fishing time in the Area M June fisheries does not threaten the sustained yield of salmon returning to Bristol Bay and Western Alaska rivers. The Governor asked Tandeske and Duffy to monitor compliance in the fishery with regulations that require the retention and reporting of all salmon caught.

"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."

Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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