Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Tim DeSpain denied rumors that troopers were entering subsistence fish camps and taking fish, or seizing boats believed to be involved in illegal fishing.
"No, absolutely not,” DeSpain said. “Troopers are not going to people's fish camps and taking fish."
Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesperson Nancy Long and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Bruce Woods also denied that their agencies were seizing fish from camps.
A Thursday AST dispatch says troopers, along with Fish and Wildlife Service officials, issued 33 citations for illegal fishing on the lower Kuskokwim River Wednesday, seizing 21 nets and more than 1,100 pounds of salmon. Troopers described all contacts as "non-confrontational" and said the seized salmon were donated to charities.
Closure orders for subsistence king salmon fishing have been placed on the lower Kuskokwim River, as well as the Kenai River. Fish and Game announced plans Wednesday night to lift restrictions on sockeye and chum salmon fishing on the extreme lower Kuskokwim, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday -- but left a ban on fishing for kings in effect.
Tim Andrew, an assistant to Association of Villace Council Presidents executive director Myron Naneng, said Wednesday that fishermen were protesting in Bethel, Napaskiak and Oscarville after claims that AST, as well as Fish and Wildlife, had deployed boats on the lower Kuskokwim, issuing citations to people engaged in illegal fishing. A Facebook photo posted Wednesday purportedly shows Sam Jackson of Akiak burning a citation ticket.
The lower Kuskokwim and Kenai king-salmon closures are expected to last until at least the end of the month.