An Open Letter Regarding Proposed 2018 Unuk River King Salmon Stock Status and Action Plan

By on December 28, 2017

Attn: Alaska Board of Fish (BOF)

RE: SE & Yakutat Finfish & Shellfish Comments

I own and operate Chinook Shores sport fishing lodge located in Clover Passage, West Behm Canal. We opened in 2005, lodge up to 30 guests, operate seven fishing boats, employ eight people and bring approximately 600 non-resident anglers to Ketchikan May-September.

There are five other other charter fishing lodges of equal or greater size lodges located in West Behm Canal along with two marinas and approximately 30 smaller charter operators who pump tens of millions of dollars into Ketchikan’s economy each summer. All these businesses benefit or rely on fishing King Salmon in Clover Pass and West Behm Canal from May through mid-July when all other salmon species are not yet available. Clover Passage has long been an angler’s paradise because it offers excellent fishing opportunities in protected waters so anglers can safely fish during poor weather conditions.

Closing all West Behm Canal to King Salmon fishing would have a very negative impact on the aforementioned businesses. I would expect a very substantial benefit to the resource to warrant such drastic measures. I fail to see what this proposed 2018 plan would accomplish.

Unuk River Chinook Harvest Rates

Commercial net and troll fisheries have increased Unuk Chinook harvest rates by nearly 30% in the past five years. Sport fishing harvest of Unuk River Chinook has dropped to 3% over the past three years which coincides with emergency orders beginning in 2014 restricting daily bag limits for West Behm Canal.

I agree with Action #1 – Sport Fishery, Option A – Status Quo and agree that the EO restrictive daily bag limit could be increased to a larger area through which Unuk Chinook migrate. I strongly oppose closing more waters of Behm Canal to further reduce the insignificant sport harvest of Unuk River Chinook. I am unfamiliar with Action #2 – Commercial Fishery Options, however, it is evident that Option A Status Quo is not adequate to reduce the Troll and Net harvest rates so Options B and C should be considered. Action #3 – Personal Use Fishery seems insignificant to escapement goals and I have no comment on this option.

Sincerely,

Jeff Wedekind
Chinook Shores, Inc.

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