Board of Fish to announce today whether it will delay a decision about plan to protect Nushagak king salmon
The Board of Fisheries is considering whether to delay a decision on the best ways to protect the struggling Nushagak king salmon run in Bristol Bay. The state’s Department of Fish and Game published 15 proposals to protect the fishery last week.
The so-called Nushagak King Salmon Action Plan could have big impacts on both the Nushagak and the other districts in the fishery. The 15 options proposed by Fish and Game range from continuing under current regulations to closing the fishery until a certain date.
Many people who testified on Wednesday urged the board to postpone a decision on what to do with the plan until its statewide meeting in March. They say that will give local advisory committees and the public more time to consider the plan.
The department published it on Nov. 23, a day before Thanksgiving, so advisory committees didn’t have time to review it or weigh in before this week’s board meeting.
Board Chair Märit Carlson-Van Dort said she is going to announce today whether the board will delay a decision about the action plan until the spring.
“I heard a lot of public testimony specific to the Nushagak-Mulchatna King Salmon Management Plan and the stock of concern designation that the board made during the work session and just the timing of the action plan, and a lot of concern expressed around the ability of folks in the region and the advisory committees to weigh in on that," she said after public testimony ended on Wednesday. "And so I’m taking that into very sincere consideration.”
The department created the plan in less than a month, after it designated Nushagak king salmon as a stock of concern because it has failed to meet the in-river goal of 95,000 fish for five of the last six years. Normally, managers would have more time to work on a plan, but the department waited to see how last summer’s king run did before making a recommendation to the board.
A slew of entities and individuals also submitted documents asking the board to delay making a decision about the plan. Among them, the Bristol Bay Native Associationrecommended delaying any actions on the plan until the statewide meeting, saying that right now there isn't enough time to develop additional state monitoring and decide how to measure the plan's effectiveness.
Get in touch with the author at email@example.com or 907-842-2200.