Sockeye stamp of funding approval? New fishing fee proposed to help Kenai, Kasilof rivers

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

A suggestion before the Legislature to institute a special fee for sport and personal-use sockeye salmon fishing in Alaska is getting a stamp of approval from Kenai-area constituents.

The House Resources Committee heard testimony March 25 on a measure to create a sockeye fishing stamp during discussion of House Bill 137, which would raise the state’s hunting, fishing and trapping fees across the board.

The idea is for a new sockeye salmon stamp to be patterned after the king salmon stamp already in use in Alaska. Anglers wanting to harvest sockeyes through sportfishing or personal-use fishing would need to purchase a sockeye stamp along with their fishing license.

Under the fee structure currently in effect, a sockeye stamp — just like a king stamp — would cost $10 for Alaska residents. For nonresidents, the cost would be $10 for a one-day stamp, $20 for a three-day stamp, $30 for a 14-day stamp and $100 for an annual tag.

If HB 137 is adopted, those fees would increase to $15 for a resident stamp, and range from $15 to $150 for nonresident stamps.

The extra money raised from sockeye stamps would go to help shoulder the burden of the increasing level of participation in the popular sockeye salmon fisheries in the state, particularly in the Copper, Kasilof and Kenai rivers.

Ted Wellman, president of the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board, testified in favor of the idea.

“Since 1997, the river use has grown exponentially, both the boat traffic and on-bank use. The primary reason for the increased use is the growing harvest of sockeye salmon, which imposes significant burden on enforcement agencies and stresses the environment habitat throughout the entire system. Accordingly, the Kenai KRSMA Board identified the adoption of a sockeye salmon stamp this year as a priority to provide adequate resources to handle the burden imposed by this sockeye salmon fishery,” Wellman said.

Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, as well as a KRSMA board member and a member of the Gov. Walker’s transition team for fisheries, testified via letter that all three groups support the creation of a statewide sockeye salmon stamp.

And Joe Connors, another member of the KRSMA board, but speaking on his own behalf as owner of a fishing lodge and guide service on the Kenai for over 35 years, also urged the House committee to support a sockeye stamp.

“In the middle river where I live it’s an incredible increase of use, and that puts a lot of burden on the resource owners. We find just people everywhere — places that, five years ago, they never would have been, they just keep coming into our area, and it’s certainly reasonable to expect them to pay some money so that we can take care of the habitat, take care of the infrastructure, have enforcement,” Connors said.

The bill passed out of House Resources on March 25, though with questions on the financial impact of various amendments. House Finance will take it up next.

2 Comments

Filed under fishing, salmon

2 responses to “Sockeye stamp of funding approval? New fishing fee proposed to help Kenai, Kasilof rivers

  1. Dad / Pat

    Milk the people.

  2. Craig Richard

    For us “middle class” people who fund most of the Government’s largess, hunting and fishing (a right not a privilege) is one of the few things we take advantage of from our Countries bounty. The idea of continually finding reasons to charge us for taking advantage of public property is a non-starter. If you look at the money the State makes off the myriad of taxes being charged by the influx of people buying goods and services from the Russian River down to the Anchor during Red season I’m sure you will find ample funding to address the problem. Speaking of addressing the problem, throwing money at law enforcement will do no good, what is needed is limiting commercial use. The explosion of Guide services is a major reason for the over use. When I am on the river the crowding is 90% by guide boats not private boat owners. In some places the guide boats could be used as a bridge. Last year I saw guides taking people out in the middle of the night! Not to mention dropping groups of people off (as the article mentions) in places they would never be. We all know the only reason a person would use a guide for Reds is to get into places not otherwise accessible.

    As a stop gap measure guides could be prohibited from fishing more than one species in a day, and limited hours and if you really wanted to protect the banks, limit them to only fishing from the boat (no drop offs).

    Looking at the Kenai King Salmon fishery I think it gives a strong indication that commercial fishing and Guides have all but killed that fishery, Reds are the main reason we still consider the Kenai as a fishing Haven, kill that see how many tourists come a calling to file your tax coffers.

    We all know that the Elephant in the closet is the politics of commercial fishing, I’m all for protecting this great resource but let’s get to the root cause and that doesn’t entail reaching into my wallet.

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