A local tour company has been warned about pulling salmon out of the water so they can be photographed by tourists.
Lt. Gary Folger of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection said Dolphin Jet Boat Tours admitted to the practice and was reprimanded, but not cited.
The most recent incident, according to Juneau resident James Brouillette Jr., occurred Aug. 13. Brouillette said he saw Dolphin tour guide Don Carlo pull a salmon out of Salmon Creek when the company's van stopped to allow its passengers to watch the salmon run.
Brouillette said he told Carlo the act was illegal
"He (Carlo) made a statement to me that he has done it quite a bit in the past," Brouillette said.
Brouillette said he called Dolphin Jet Boat Tours and Fish and Wildlife to complain.
"I communicated with the company's owner," Brouillette said. "He knew they were doing it."
Fish and Wildlife followed up on his complaint.
"They (Dolphin) admitted to it," Folger said. "We decided to give them some counseling let them know that this was not acceptable. They assured us it wouldn't happen again."
Carlo, in an interview, insisted he did not pull a salmon out of the creek Aug. 13. Company owner Douglas Ward, however, said his employee admitted he had done so on previous occasions.
"We screwed up," Ward said. "We shouldn't have done it and it won't happen any more."
Brouillette said he's pleased the company has changed, but he wondered why a group of subsistence activists was fined for illegally handling salmon last year while Dolphin "received a slap on the wrist."
The Subsistence Five, a group of five Native women, caught five salmon on Aug. 28, 1999, after setting a net near Steep Creek to bring attention to Alaska Natives' subsistence rights. The area they fished is closed to personal use, subsistence and any other kind of fishing by state law.
As a result, the women were charged with fishing without a permit. On Feb. 29, four of the five women were fined $25 each for the violation.
"That was a public stand, but it's OK for a tour driver to throw one (salmon) on the bank to take a picture of it?" Brouillette asked.
Folger said the Native women were charged because they called the Fish and Wildlife office to alert staff of their demonstration plans. Folger said his office warned them in advance that they would be charged with breaking the law.
"They went ahead with their plan anyway," Folger said. "We like to first pass on the knowledge. Some of these folks just don't know the law. The Fish and Game regulations can be difficult. If we can get away with counseling, that's the best way."
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.