Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series examining the environmental damage and other issues arising from the Kasilof River public-use fisheries.
By Jenny Neyman
Mike and Patti Curry, and several of their neighbors near the mouth of the Kasilof River, observed their own, private holiday Saturday — Fishermen Exodus Day.
It’s a much-anticipated annual observation, with the Currys celebrating by putting away their earplugs, picking up trash on the beach and heaving a sigh of relief that their property will be spared from use as a latrine, at least until next summer.
“I’m tired of people using my front yard as a toilet. I don’t go in your front yard and use it as a toilet. I don’t want to see your bare butts on my property,” Patti Curry said.
Setnet fishing is allowed for Alaska residents on the beaches stretching north and south from the mouth of the Kasilof from June 15 to June 24, and dipnetting is open at the river mouth itself from June 25 through Aug. 7. The stroke of midnight Saturday morning marked an end to the summer’s personal-use fisheries at the Kasilof, and the corresponding departure of the last of the thousands of fishermen who cram themselves along the north and south beaches of the river, quickly overflowing the space allowed for camping and parking, and challenging the capacity of the limited trash and outhouse services that are available to them.
The result is dangerous, disgusting chaos, Curry said.
“It’s really frustrating. And it gets worse and worse every year,” she said.