Cook Inlet

Redoubt Reporter

Upper Cook Inlet fishermen should expect another below-average sockeye salmon run this year.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasts a return of 4,370,000 sockeye to Upper Cook Inlet in 2021, according to a report released Friday

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The federal government has released a draft environmental impact statement on an oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet, tentatively scheduled for late 2021.

BOEM is planning to solicit bids on over 1 million acres in the inlet’s federal waters, which includes anything more than three miles offshore. The agency first published its notice of intent in September and released the EIS draft Wednesday.

Some fishermen and conservationists say that wasn’t enough time.

Redoubt Reporter

Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche is again moving to establish a buyback program for set-net permits in Cook Inlet.

The program would reduce the number of commercial set-net fishermen on the east side of the inlet. Proponents of the bill, like Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association Director Ken Coleman, say that’s to reduce pressure and create a more sustainable fishery in an area that’s been under stress for years.

“Our thought was if we could reduce our numbers, then those who would be left behind in a reduction scenario, assuming that some people would leave the fishing community, that those that are left behind would have a better chance for ongoing financial viability," he said.

Courtesy of Bottom Line Charters

Scientists are still digging for answers about the low abundance of adult razor clams on the east side of Cook Inlet. Meantime, charter companies are taking passengers over to the west side, where razors abound.

“The west side is like Deep Creek and Clam Gulch were 20, 24 years ago," said Ernie Kerby. He’s owned Bottom Line Charters, in Ninilchik, for almost three decades.

Ocean Alert

You don’t have to know much about what you’re seeing to make the Ocean Alert app work. Say you’re driving past Turnagain Arm and you see a beluga.

“You can say, ‘I saw a whale.’ Not have to know what species it is or anything like that," said Jacob Levenson, a biologist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “Or you can say, ‘I saw this whale, here’s a picture of its tail,’ and then there’s an artificial intelligence backend, Flukebook, that tells you if we’ve seen that whale before.”

Levenson and other BOEM scientists are using the new Ocean Alert app to crowdsource sightings of marine megafauna that will inform the agency’s work in federal waters.

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