North Pacific Fisheries Management Council

Redoubt Reporter

Federal managers voted Monday to close a huge swath of Upper Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing, capping a two-year fight over the fate of the fishery and its 500 permit-holders.

Those fishermen and representatives from the Kenai Peninsula turned out in droves to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting to oppose the closure and advocate for lighter conservation measures.

But when representatives from Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration said the state was unwilling to manage the area alongside the federal government, the council voted unanimously for the closure.

NOAA

The southern half of Cook Inlet will have a new fishery management plan in under a month. Commercial fishermen are organizing with the help of their city councils to make sure that plan is not the proposed “Alternative 4,” which would close off federal waters south of Kalgin Island to commercial salmon fishing.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel is bringing forth a resolution to oppose such a closure at a special Kenai City Council meeting tonight.

“I hate to be overdramatic in a lot of cases, but you could almost call it a deathknell for drift fishing in Cook Inlet,” he said.

Outer Coast Adventures

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council approved a proposal in a special meeting May 15 that would make going on a halibut charter more attractive to Alaskans this year, as a way to help mitigate the impacts COVID-19 is having on the industry. 

Councilmember Andy Mezirow, who owns a charter business in Seward, motioned to enact a proposal that will relax restrictions on charter operators in area 3A, Southcentral, and 2C, Southeast.

“Clearly no amount of regulatory change is going to make this a profitable year but this action, in conjunction with federal assistance, will contribute to a coordinated effort to help Alaska charter operators make it through this pandemic,” Mezirow said.