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
- Ocean climate and Gulf of Alaska salmon
- Integrated study of spawning migration, energetics and pathogens in Copper River salmon
- In-river abundance, spawning distribution and run timing of Copper River chinook salmon
- 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