Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Legislator releases draft Cook Inlet salmon report

When last we visited the subject of the Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force, its chairman had whipped up a minor scandal after trying to steer a $20,000 writing contract for the panel's final report to the spouse of one of his own legislative staffers.

Now Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, has released this draft report he says was "prepared by a volunteer — at virtually no cost to the state."

Johnson stresses the report isn't finished yet. Indeed, it literally ends mid-sentence on page 96.

Deckboss might have more thoughts on the report once he's read it.

Below is an e-mail Johnson sent to fellow legislators today introducing the report. Pretty interesting, with a reference to the idea of buying out Cook Inlet commercial fishing permits.

FROM: Rep. Craig Johnson
SENT: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 3:53 PM
SUBJECT: Joint Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force

Members of the Joint Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force,

Attached for your review is a copy of the draft Joint Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force report. While the draft is not complete and unedited, it contains a great deal of meaningful new information. The current draft is nearly one hundred pages long and contains more than two hundred footnotes citing source materials and testimony presented to the Task Force during its hearings. It was prepared by a volunteer — at virtually no cost to the state.

I recently requested funding to complete work on this important report, but it’s unclear at this point whether any funding will be authorized. Given that, I wanted to release the draft report for your review.

Two critical sections of the report still remain to be written. One would discuss the status and potential causes of apparent Northern District/Susitna salmon stock declines. Another section, already begun in this draft, would analyze the possibility of using the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission’s "buy-back" program or other means to assist the struggling Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishing fleet which has been economically devastated in recent years.

Finally, it was my intention that the completed report would also include: 1) an executive summary; 2) a section discussing key policy considerations and recommendations for future legislative action or oversight on the issue leading up to the critical Board of Fisheries meeting on Cook Inlet in 2010; 3) numerous charts and graphs depicting key data presented in the report; and 4) standard technical sections including a table of contents, bibliography, etc.

Unfortunately, when the Task Force was formed, it was provided no staff or funding to accomplish its mission — or preparation of a final report. Nevertheless, the Task Force held five public meetings in various Cook Inlet communities and took testimony from the public with a wide range of groups involved in, or dependent on, the Cook Inlet salmon fisheries. Given the tight time constraints and sheer volume of information and testimony presented, it is inconceivable that the Task Force could have prepared a final report of this magnitude without the able volunteer assistance we received. Whether work on the draft will continue or not is now up to legislative leadership. In my opinion it would be unfortunate if this report is never finished.

Because while Cook Inlet salmon allocations and sustainability issues defy easy answers, I believe the Task Force did some important work on the subject. This draft — though incomplete — clearly reflects that effort. It’s my sincere hope that release of the draft and the new information it contains will stimulate further discussion on the subject and encourage state leaders to continue to focus on an issue that is of critical importance to all Alaskans.

The draft report and all other documents received by the Task Force can be found on the Joint Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force Web site.


Representative Craig Johnson
Chair, Joint Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force


Anonymous said...

a 15 minute scan shows this is a piece of garbage. It is one big expensive one-sided arguement for greater allocation to sport and PU. How can sport and PU people eat more fish than they are currently allocated? I have to show restraint long before I catch my allocation or there is no way we can eat it all. If greater allocation equals waste, and I belive it does, then the maximum benefit is to allow the commercial sector to catch the rest.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who provided the "volunteer" help? Kenai River Sportfishing Association, perhaps? It would be nice if they revealed that.

Keeneye said...

This "report" appears t have been generated by KRSA (Bob Penney). It is nothing more than another effort to get rid of the UCI comm. fishery without any input from the commercial guys. I fished 5 days in'08 and was shut down for the heart of the '09 season while hundreds of thousands of pounds of "personal use" salmon was being flown out of Kenai to points all over the world. As a setnetter north of the B-line, we have been cut to the bone. As a 42 year resident of this area and 27 year UCI fisherman, It is disheartning to see this task force advocate nonresident salmon harvesting ahead of resident small business people.