April 15, 2020

Here in Fairbanks we still have several feet of snow on the ground, but it's
melting fast. The first migrating waterfowl have arrived at Creamers Field
reminding me that salmon dipnetting at Chitina is just around the corner.

Covid-19 and personal use fishing

The Covid 19 pandemic has created some challenging times for our country.
I hope you are taking the necessary precautions to protect yourselves,
your family and those in your community. The State of Alaska has issued public
health mandates relating to Covid 19. Mandate 12 limits intrastate travel
between communities to critical infrastructure or critical needs. While
subsistence fishing remained open and unrestricted under the mandates,
there was concern that sport and personal use fishing would not be
considered a critical need and would be curtailed.The State announced
on April 13 that all sport and personal use fishing will take place as
normal with added guidelines to prevent spread of the virus.

According to the guidelines, residents should fish as close to home as
possible and should not plan on stopping for supplies outside of their
home communities. ADF&G says fishermen should know and abide by any local
health mandates. While fishing, the department encourages the use of
face coverings and says fishermen must practice social distancing. The
various charter businesses that service Chitina dipnetters will have
their own requirements to protect themselves, their customers and comply
with the State mandates.

Chitina Dipnetters' annual meeting

The CDA annual meeting, which was scheduled for the second Tuesday in
May, has been canceled due to restrictions on public gatherings. The
CDA board will, if possible, set a new date for later this summer. The
2020 Fairbanks Outdoor Show, which was originally scheduled for April
24-26 has been postponed until May 29-31. I have my doubts that large
public gatherings will be allowed by then. These two functions are CDA's
main membership gathering venues. Because of the uncertainty that either
event will be held, we'd like to ask you to renew your annual membership
online at our website, https://shop.chitinadipnetters.com. While there,
consider purchasing some CDA apparel.

Copper River Salmon Harvesters Roundtable

The first months of 2020 were busy ones for CDA. On February
21, new CDA board member John Siegfried and I attended the 3rd annual
Copper River Salmon Harvesters Roundtable organized by The Copper River
Watershed Project. The meeting took place at the native village of
Tazlina's community hall. Representatives from the Sport, Personal Use,
Commercial and Subsistence user groups were in attendance. Users related
changes they are seeing in their fishery over time as well as changes
to the fish they catch (size, health, run timing). Several scientific
Copper River salmon presentations were given

  1. Ocean climate and Gulf of Alaska salmon
  2. Integrated study of spawning migration, energetics and pathogens in
    Copper River salmon
  3. In-river abundance, spawning distribution and run timing of Copper
    River chinook salmon
  4. Sonar technology update

As in previous roundtables, allocation of salmon between user groups
was off limits, so the meeting was not so contentious.

2019 Chitina Roundup

The 2020 Chitina Personal Use Dip Net Fishery (CPUDF) permit income
meeting between CDA, DOT and ADF&G was held March 19 by teleconference due
to social
gathering restrictions caused by the corona virus. Chuck Derrick (CDA
president), Jason Sakalaskas (Fairbanks DOT), John Hoffman (Tazlina DOT),
Tim Viavant (ADF&G) and Klaus Wuttig (ADF&G) were in attendance. Tim
provided calculations for the number of 2019 permits issued, by whom they
were issued, and a breakdown of revenue garnered through permit sales.
A total of 8,070 CPUDF permits were purchased in 2019 generating a revenue
of $115,611. John Hoffman described the fall 2019 work done by his Tazlina
DOT crew clearing landslides past the fall 2018 trail reconstruction end
point at mile 5.2 of the trail between O'Brien and Haley Creeks. They were
able to gain approximately another mile of trail rehab. John plans
(weather permitting) to use the remainder of the FY 20 RSA (2018 permit sales) to
continue work on the canyon trail in the spring (2020) before the
dipnetting season starts. Their goal will be to work their way through a 200 yard,
very narrow part of the trail that runs next to a rock wall. When finished
rehabbing that section this spring, John says the trail from there dives
back into the woods and their fall 2020 work should go quickly to and
through the final large slide at Haley Creek. John said the toilet and
garbage contract for the 2019 dip net season has remained steady in the
$50,000 range.

Board of Fish happenings

Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) member John Woods, who was
appointed, but not confirmed by the legislature last year,
is up for confirmation this spring. CDA testified in favor of his
confirmation as he represents the South Central sports fisheries and
is a proponent of personal use dipnetting.

Fairbanks representative and chair of the Board of Fisheries, Reed Morrisky's
term expires in June, 2020.
After 7 years on the Board, Mr. Morrisky has declined reappointment. Reed is a
Chitina dipnetter and a great plus for our fishery. His presence on
the Board will be missed.

UAF professor, pilot, sport fishing guide and big game assistant guide, Mckenzie Ray
Mitchell, has been appointed by the governor to fill Reed's
seat on the Board. The legislature did not conduct any confirmation
hearings before they adjourned. When the Legislature takes up the business of
confirming the appointments, the CDA will support the nominations of both
John Woods and Mckensie Ray Mitchell.

The Alaska BOF is scheduled to meet in Cordova this December to hear
proposals for changes to the
Copper River and Prince William Sound fin-fish regulations.
CDA has submitted a proposal to extend the lower boundary of the Chitina
Sub-district ½ mile below the existing lower boundary. This proposal will
open up new fishing sites and give boat dipnetters a longer continuous drift. The
proposal and map are attachments to this email. Two CDA Board members will be
attending the Cordova Board of Fish meeting to present and defend this proposal.

Our primary funding source for travel and lodging costs for these meetings is
membership dues. Please become a member or, for existing members, renew your
membership online at https://shop.chitinadipnetters.com. Not only must the CDA pay for
the trip to Cordova, our position as dipnetters is strengthened when we show that
the dipnetters of Alaska support us and our proposals.

If any members with ideas for a Chitina dipnetting regulation change, I would
be happy to help draft the proposal and support it at the Cordova meeting in
December. Contact me via the information below. Deadline for proposal submission is April 24,2020.

Chitina Dipnetters' History Project

The CDA board has, prior to the onset of the pandemic, begun sorting by
year and subject, through a pile of boxes containing all CDA history paperwork.
We are preparing to digitize the materials, reduce the volumes of paper, and make
it more easily accessible. As for now this project is on hold until social
distancing is in the past.

This will be a dipnetting season for the history books. Stay healthy
and we at the Chitina Dipnetters Association wish everyone a productive
Chitina dipnetting season.

Chuck Derrick, President
Chitina Dipnetters Association