Little Susitna River king salmon restrictions

Communications regarding subject above posted here for your information.

From: Andy Couch [] Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 9:49 PM
To: Ivey, Samuel S (DFGSubject: Little Susitna River king salmon restrictions

Hi Sam,

After talking with you earlier today -- I looked at the Little Susitna River king salmon weir counts and noticed that through June 22, 2016 a total of 2,217 king salmon have already passed the Little Susitna River Weir --- on that same Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) web page it states that the CONSERVATIVE weir count range of 2,300 -- 4,000 Chinook salmon will be used to guide inseason management of the sport fishery during 2016.

Near the end of Thursday June 23 --- it is highly probable that the Little Susitna River king salmon goal range may have already been attained --and if not -- the highest likelihood is that it will soon be attained.   Therefore, I respectfully ask when will the Little Susitna River king salmon fishery return to normal regulations printed in the Fish and Game Department's Southcentral Alaska Sportfishing Regulations Summary that has already been distributed to the public?


Andy Couch

Fishtale River Guides

(907) 746-2199


On Jun 24, 2016, at 1:44 PM, Ivey, Samuel S (DFG) <> wrote:

Hi Andy,

I can assure you the department is using a variety of tools and assessment models to professionally manage Chinook salmon fisheries in Northern Cook Inlet, including the Little Susitna River.  It has only been in the last day that a level of escapement has been achieved that can support additional harvest.  Our assessment of projected escapement is not solely the weir count, but takes into consideration the effects of additional harvest on the projected escapement in a sport fishery with the potential for high exploitation on years such as this one.  At the moment I was talking to you yesterday, I was in fact putting the finishing touches on an EO to reinstate a full Chinook fishery on the Little Susitna.  That EO is forthcoming.

Andy, I’ve noticed over the past two years that when you feel the department should make a regulatory change to a fishery that you send your message far and wide to members of the public holding office and to individuals and organizations with fishery management interests.  I can only assume that by doing this you are trying to put pressure on department management staff to instigate an action.  You are the only person doing this.  I’d like to say I will not be pressured to make inseason management decisions.  I take my position as Area Management Biologist of NCI very seriously and make unbiased decisions based on real time data provided me by an outstanding staff ranging from my assistant to the dedicated technicians running the assessment projects.  I am tirelessly interpreting data in different ways and rely on communication with other staff, anglers, guides, and to a large degree my personal knowledge of the areas fisheries to base management decisions upon.  I greatly value the insights of anglers and guides out there and if you would like to provide your insights to me in same manner as others, simply call me or email them to me.  A lot of positive work can be accomplished in an efficient manner when we can treat each other with respect and as professionals in our own fields.


Sam Ivey

Area Management Biologist

Northern Cook Inlet

Sport Fish Division

1800 Glenn Hwy, ste 2

Palmer, AK 99645




I appreciate being in the loop as well. I too thought Andy's email was very respectful. I also appreciate all that you (Sam) and others do to manage NCI fisheries.


While I understand your desire for Andy to limit the email to only you, I also understand why he may be sharing them more widely.


From the sport fisherman point of view, there are glaring inconsistencies in the way that decisions are made in NCI fisheries.


We have many NCI streams closed or heavily restricted. Some have even earned  stock of concern status. In spite of this, the department recently decided that restrictions should be lifted on commercial fishing in NCI and they should be allowed to fish normal periods. Both Subsistence nets and commercial nets have even been allowed to fish normally even with streams nearby with that are designated with stock of concern status.


In one of Andy's previous emails he pointed out some of these these discrepancies and the apparent hypocrisy in the way the department makes decisions.


How can the department say that king salmon returns are sufficient enough to lift restrictions and allow normal commercial harvest but not enough to lift restrictions and closures for sport fishing on many NCI rivers?


It's this kind of thing that breeds distrust and makes us want to shout it from the roof tops instead of just sending an email to one person.


To be fair I realize that some of these decisions may have been made by others outside of your (Sam's) control and maybe you cant do anything about it, but you can see how this kind thing just seems so inconsistent and unjust. It continues to look like preference is being given to commercial fishing over other users.


If there are not enough kings to lift restrictions on the rivers directly impacted by commercial nets in the inlet then how can we allow them to fish normal periods?


I'm so thankful for Andy and his work in bringing these things to light. I am

also thankful for Sam and I believe you are trying to do the right thing. I would simply like to see sanity and honesty in overall NCI policies.




Pat Donelson

iFish Alaska Guide Service

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