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Two Bristol Bay related proposals at Board of Fish next week

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Board-generated Proposal 277 deals with escapement goals for sockeye salmon in several rivers in the Bay.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries will meet next week (March 17-20) in Anchorage for the last meeting of the 2014-2015 Board cycle. Among issues for discussion are two proposals that may affect Bristol Bay fisheries.

One proposal, number 275, was drafted by the Armstrong family of Dillingham. If adopted, it would change a boundary line at Graveyard Point to preserve the family’s long-held fishing sites and factor in shoreline erosion.

Board-generated proposal 277 and will take up escapement goals for sockeye in Bristol Bay's district river systems. This proposal dates back to 2012, when the Department of Fish & Game recommended raising escapement goals for several rivers in the Bay.

"There was a deal that was made that said the Department would wait two years to implement the recommended escapement goals. In that time, stakeholders put together a panel that would do a study and come up with an alternative," says Area Management Biologist Tim Sands at the Fish and Game office in Dillingham.

That study, led by the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute, was released this week.  

The study recommends managing for sustainable escapement goals (SEGs) rather than optimal escapement goals (OEGs). The escapement range managed for during the fishery might raise, which fishermen often take issue with. The biologists, however, say that in the long term this should mean larger returns of sockeye, year after year.

The study also recommends managing for the low end of escapement goals on smaller run years, and the high end on larger run years.

The public comment period on these proposals ended on March 3. But here are still options if you want to weigh in.

"After the on-time comment deadline, it gets a little harder. Up until the day the meeting starts, you can mail comments in or fax comments in. And then after the date that the meeting starts, you have to hand-deliver them," says Taryn O'Connor Brito, the board support specialist for the Southwest Region.

The fax number for submitting comments is (907) 465-6094. Detailed instructions on how to send comments can be found here on the Fish & Game website

Contact Hannah Colton at hannah@kdlg.org