Coastal Erosion Affecting Set Gillnet Operations in Alaska

A new temporary committee has been established by the Alaska’s Board of Fisheries to examine coastal erosion impacts on set gillnet operations. The committee is tasked with developing proposal review criteria when deliberating proposals involving erosion impact on fisheries.
The board held its first meeting at Alaska Department of Fish and Game headquarters in Juneau on Jan. 4, to review factors relevant to the subject, including input from the state departments of Natural Resources, Law and Public Safety.
The committee also heard testimony from people at some listening stations, which included Anchorage, Juneau and Dillingham.
Glenn Haight, executive director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, said that two related proposals from commercial set netters that were tabled at an earlier Board of Fisheries meeting would most likely not be pulled off the table during the board’s Arctic/Yukon/ Kuskokwim finfish meeting in Fairbanks in mid-January, but that the board would discuss the first meeting of the coastal erosion impacts committee during their miscellaneous business session.
One of the proposals tabled was proposal 59, which proposed to revise boundaries of closed waters at Graveyard Point in the Naknek-Kvichak District of the Bristol Bay fishery. Also tabled was proposal 63, which would change the seaward minimum distance between set gillnet gear in the Clark’s Point area of Bristol Bay’s Nushagak District.
Proposal 63, offered by Alannah Hurley of Dillingham, proposed extending the regulation to a 750 foot limit would exhibit regulatory consistency with other similar areas in the Nushgak district, adjust the regulation to accommodate for reduced fishing opportunity due to the expanding mud flat, and provide adequate water for set netters in the affected area to have an opportunity for a successful season. Not changing the regulation would unnecessarily restrict the set netters opportunity for successful seasons, Hurley said.

During the coastal erosion committee’s first meeting chairman Reed Morisky said that he would make a report at the board’s AYK meeting, and as a starting point he would offer a proposal related to coastal erosion that would not impact escapement, nor increase the number of sites legally fished, nor adversely affect those who have historically fished the area, and would result in historical fairness.