We were most surprised and shocked to receive the state news release regarding the additional king salmon restrictions being placed on charter anglers in Southeast Alaska.
As the owners of three hotels in Southeast Alaska, two in Ketchikan and one in Juneau, this will have a terrible impact on our business. During the summer months a good portion, possibly 50 percent or more, of our hotel business is generated by area resorts and local charter fishermen. Most of these people are here for the king salmon. After all, we are called the salmon capitol of the world.
Our economy, since the closure of the pulp mills, has been devastated and we only exist with our summer business. Now the state is going to take that away as well and I'm real hard-pressed as to what to say to the 162 employees who are dependent upon us for their livelihood.
What the state has done affects far more people and businesses than just the charter operators; it will have far-reaching repercussions throughout Southeast. Many of us struggled to stay open during the winter months in anticipation of good summer business. Cutting that business in half will definitely result in many more winter closures this year than ever before.
We really don't understand how the state can have the figures to decide, this early in the season, that its actions will reduce the sport harvest by 6,600 kings. Wouldn't it be more prudent to wait until it is closer to the harvest target to make that decision?
In all our years of living and fishing in Southeast Alaska, and we put in a lot of hours fishing, we can count the number of king salmon we have caught on one hand - five. Please realize that this is in 40-plus years of fishing for kings.
Ironically, here at the hotels, we do not see that many sport fishermen who come through here catch that many fish either. What we are really selling here is a dream, the dream of catching that big king. That is what keeps them coming back. Please don't take that dream away.
Kay Sims and Terry Wanzer
Ketchikan and Juneau