- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

NOME, Alaska (AP) - Federal wildlife officers this year will enforce fishing laws including king salmon restrictions along the Kuskokwim River drainage within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

The change affects enforcement for residents of 32 communities, KNOM-radio (http://bit.ly/1w3VNKC) reported.

The Federal Subsistence Board is implementing the federal definition of subsistence users along the Kuskokwim within the refuge following a case brought by the village of Napaskiak (nuh-PAS’-kee-yak), said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Andrea Mederios.

The board invoked rules under federal law that limits fishing to local residents of small communities most dependent on the fish.

Subsistence fishing for king salmon in the Kuskokwim is closed this year, but a special permit authorizes the 32 villages to harvest up to 1,000 kings for cultural and social uses.

Law enforcement elsewhere will remain largely unchanged.

“As far as enforcement levels, the number of troopers participating, it’s pretty much the same as in previous years,” said Capt. Steve Hall of the Alaska State Troopers.

Restrictions on king fishing have been harshly criticized. However, Hall said, most people want more king salmon to reach spawning streams.

“Our impression is that lots of folks realize that the problem is with the need to meet the escapement for chinook, in order to continue to have chinook in the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers,” Hall said. “So we’ve found a few violations - nets that aren’t legal and things like that - but for the most part, to date, the fishery has gone fairly smoothly.”

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Information from: KNOM-AM, http://www.knom.org

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