The state Board of Fisheries met in Valdez last week and took action on several proposals related to the Chitina personal-use dip net fishery on the Copper River. For next season the dip-netters at Chitina will have one king salmon limit. The start of this season will have the biggest impact on the approximately 10,000 dip-netters who travel to Chitina each year to scoop salmon out of the Copper River.
Tom Taube, regional management coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, said that some of the upriver subsistence users were there testifying that when the dip net fishery opens they see their catch go down. He added that the opening of season should put more fish on spawning grounds. Biologist Mark Somerville at the Department of Fish and Game in Glennallen, said that since 2000, the average opening date of the Chitina dip net fishery has been June 5.
In its decision the fish board has also restricted commercial fishermen in an attempt to get more early fish upriver by voting to eliminate one fishing period within the barrier islands of the Copper River District commercial fishery during the first two weeks of the season in May. The Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee had proposed keeping the area inside the barrier islands closed to commercial fishing until June 15.
The fish board rejected proposals that would have increased the number of king salmon that personal-use dip-netters can keep. Only one king salmon is allowed to dip-netters as part of their 15- or 30-fish bag limit and the state has issued emergency orders early in the season the past three years preventing dip-netters from keeping any kings because of poor runs.