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Report: Kenai had busiest dipnetting season ever

Posted: January 11, 2013 - 1:04am

KENAI — Kenai residents concerned about the increasingly popular personal use fishery on the Kenai Peninsula are calling for the city to put limits on dipnetters.

The Kenai City Council on Monday held its first work session to discuss the 2012 dipnetting season report, which says that the Kenai Peninsula experienced its busiest dipnet season to date in 2012.

The personal use fishery is open to Alaska residents who are allowed to use large nets with long handles to scoop salmon either from shore or from boats. The fishery brings thousands of people to Kenai when sockeye salmon runs peak in the summer.

Kenai resident Megan Every said dipnetting season has become a time for people to come to Kenai and “trash the beach” and city officials should place limits on dipnetters.

The report says revenues exceeded the previous year by 19.7 percent. That was attributed to a $5 camping fee increase and a larger number of participants.

However, the report also says expenditures totaled $482,070. That means the city ended up losing more than $8,900.

Fish waste continues to be a big problem. The city intends to pursue an aggressive program to mitigate waste on the north and south beaches.

To mitigate the influx of dipnetters, City Manager Rick Koch proposed increasing efforts to move fish waste to the beaches’ shores during low tides and collect other solid waste in new waste receptacles.

Koch laid out his plan for 2013 in the latter half of the work session. He outlined six possible methods to deal with increasing waste.

In the end, he suggested putting additional waste receptacles on the north and south beaches and raking the fish waste during low tides.

Residents instead pushed for a prohibition on any fish waste disposal on the beaches or in the waters of the river. Users would be required to take whole fish home.

Koch said that approach would require six additional officers to enforce the ban.

Residents also spoke in favor of putting more pressure on the state and its agencies to alleviate the burgeoning “Woodstock of Alaska,” as one attendee described the three-week dipnet season.

“It’s not the city’s responsibility to clean up everyone else’s trash,” resident Megan Smith said. “If it ends up strewn from here to wherever, it becomes a state problem, and this is a state fishery.”

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