Allow DIPAC to release kings at Sheep Creek

Posted: Monday, February 15, 2010

It has come to my attention that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has directed Douglas Island Pink and Chum to not release any king salmon at Sheep Creek. In fact, no kings have been released at Sheep Creek in more than three years.

I am told the reason for this is the charter fleet has convinced Sport Fish Division that there is a greater need for the fish at the north end than the south. My sources also tell me DIPAC was instructed to keep quiet about this so as not to stir up any public outcry. There is a contingent within the charter community who are ex-Fish and Game employees and still using their considerable influence to fatten their pocketbooks at the expense of others in the sport fishing community.

DIPAC was created to enhance fishing for all groups and take some pressure off the natural stocks. To coerce Fish and Game into altering that mission is just wrong. When you couple no hatchery fish being released with Fish and Game's insistence on giving the gillnet fishery an early assault in May and June on the Taku River natural stocks, a collapse of those stocks is almost a certainty.

Those of us that have lived here for a long time well remember the last time that it happened, mostly due to overfishing. Thanks in a large part to keeping the king season closed until mid-June for 12 years the run was allowed to rebound. Since that time, we now have several Canadian groups fishing further up Taku River as well as our own gillnet fleet creating a gauntlet preventing a good escapement to keep the natural stocks strong.

In light of these factors, it is past time for Fish and Game to rethink their policies on allocation of this prized resource and allow DIPAC to again release smolt from Sheep Creek. I encourage all like minded sport fisherman to join me in contacting Sport Fish Division and letting your opinion be heard. Alaska's fish do not belong to just the commercial and charter fleet. They belong to all of us.

John Niemi


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