February 15, 2017 — The Alaska of today is not the Alaska of statehood. The 49th state has grown and changed radically. The economy of the state is wholly different, and yet Alaska salmon management continues to be treated as if we just became a state.
Almost all major fisheries in the state have, for decades, been managed on the premise that commercial catches are always the highest and best use of Alaska salmon resources. This is especially true in upper Cook Inlet.
This premise ignores the changes that have occurred. In 1976, 191,000 sportfishing licenses of all types — resident and nonresident — were sold in Alaska. Nonresidents accounted for only 47,000 of them. By 2015, nonresident license sales alone had topped 278,000 — a six-fold increase.