The Alaska Board of Fisheries voted two weeks ago to continue to allow Juneau anglers the use of two rods, as well as increased bag limits, in years of highly-abundant Taku River king salmon.
It was one of several board decisions in Ketchikan that will increase local anglers and commercial trollers' and gillnetters' opportunity to catch Taku River king salmon during bountiful runs.
For the last few years, Juneau area anglers have had trouble reaching their daily bag limits for Taku River king salmon, despite abundant king salmon returning to the river.
The idea of allowing the anglers to use two rods could possibly help them out, according to state officials. The board enacted emergency rules in 2005 allowed Juneau fishermen to use two rods and increased their bag limits to three fish.
The new rules for local and non-resident fishermen are very similar to last year's emergency rules, state biologists said.
There's probably nowhere else in Alaska that a resident fishermen can legally use two rods for king salmon, said Brian Glynn, a sportfish biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
"I think people liked the opportunity" last year, Glynn said.
On the flip side, the board voted to form a work group to review the Southeast region's sport-fish possession limits. The main concern raised at the meeting was whether nonresident sport fishermen are taking more than their fair share of frozen fish out of Alaska.
Right now, there's a loophole for fish that are processed and frozen: Those fish don't count towards the state's sport fish possession limit. The Alaska Trollers Association suggested that the sport fish possession limits be defined as all the fish that sportsmen keep.
"They certainly aren't doing anything illegal," said Dale Kelley, who runs the trollers' association, referring to the fishermen who elect to take out additional frozen fish.
The question, Kelley said, is whether Alaska should put a reasonable limit on the amount of salmon that nonresidents ship out of Alaska.
At the board meeting, Kelley showed a picture of a nonresident fish box at the Sitka airport that apparently carried 1,250 pounds of salmon.
Kelley noted that commercial fishermen have to account for all of their fish that they sell.
"We just think the public deserves to engage in this discussion, and come up with something reasonable in the way of expectations of people who visit our region," Kelley said.
In other decisions, the board rejected a proposal to allow subsistence Southeast Alaska fishermen to snag salmon with a bow and arrow, and ejected proposals to increase the allowable size of seine boats and to restructure the Sitka herring fishery.
The board met in Ketchikan from Jan. 19-31. It will hold a follow-up meeting that will deal with groundfish and shellfish regional fishing proposals from Feb. 21-28 in Ketchikan.
Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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