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State Issues 2013 Sport Fishing Restrictions in Southcentral Alaska

April 18, 2013|By Chris Klint | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska —

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a stream of emergency orders Thursday restricting sport fishing in many areas of Southcentral Alaska, following low statewide salmon runs in 2012 and similar state action.

In a statement summarizing most of the orders, Fish and Game said they were issued in response to “low king salmon abundance over recent years, a below-average outlook for the upcoming season, and uncertainty over how quickly king salmon abundance may rebound.”

Last year, the state imposed a series of restrictions on fishing due to lower-than-expected salmon runs across Alaska. The tighter rules provoked widespread anger in rural Alaska, with some residents choosing to fish in violation of them; two dozen have been tried for misdemeanor charges, with two fishermen convicted and fined $250 in October.

Tom Vania, Fish and Game’s regional fisheries management coordinator for Cook Inlet, says the new restrictions this year shouldn’t surprise people, noting that only four of 17 Cook Inlet-area streams met their state escapement goals in 2012.

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“Again, these are a lot of actions we took last year,” Vania said. “I think people are prepared to do what it takes to achieve escapement goals -- there's a lot of people that are concerned about the resources as well.”

Vania says that while Thursday’s restrictions will reduce anglers’ take of Chinooks, there are other species in abundance, such as coho or sockeye salmon and lake trout. Fish and Game recently unveiled a Google Earth application that shows lakes stocked with fish by state officials.

“There's a lot of opportunity out there for people to still wet a line, still put food in the freezer,” Vania said. “Sockeye should be looking real good this summer; last year there was a lot of chum salmon that made it up to Cook Inlet.”

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