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(a) Notwithstanding the other provisions in this chapter regarding lake trout, the department shall manage wild lake trout populations in the Upper Copper River and Upper Susitna River Area by employing a conservative harvest regime and by maintaining harvest below the maximum sustained yield level. Following sustained yield principles, the department may manage wild lake trout fisheries to provide or maintain fishery qualities that are desired by sport anglers.
(b) In a sport fishery covered by this management plan, the commissioner, by emergency order, may take one or more of the management actions specified in this subsection if there is a conservation or biological concern for the sustainability of the fishery or for a stock harvested by that fishery. The concern must arise from harvest, effort, or catch data for that fishery which has been derived from statewide harvest survey data, on-site creel survey data, stock status data, stock exploitation rates, or from inferential comparisons with other fisheries. The management actions are as follows:
(1) reduce the bag and possession limits;
(2) reduce fishing time;
(3) allow only a catch-and-release fishery;
(4) modify methods and means of harvest.
(c) If the harvest level in the Upper Copper River and Upper Susitna River Area exceeds sustained yield for a two-year time period, the commissioner by emergency order, may close the fishery and immediately reopen a fishery during which one or more of the following restrictions apply:
(1) bag and possession limit of one lake trout;
(2) a minimum size limit applies; the size limit shall be established based on the following considerations:
(A) length of maturity, with two years of protection from harvest for spawning fish before recruitment to the fishery;
(B) lake size, with no size limits for a trout population in a lake with a surface area less than 247 acres;
(C) uniformity of size limits, with the minimum size limit 24 inches unless the department determines that there is a biological justification for an alternate size limit;
(3) if the reduced bag limit or size limits do not keep harvest below maximum sustained yield levels the commissioner may further restrict harvest opportunity, through
(A) seasonal closures;
(B) spawning closures, winter closures, or both;
(C) allowing single-hook, artificial lures only or no bait, or both;
(D) allowing catch-and-release fishing only;
(E) a complete closure of the fishery.
(d) Special management waters are waters designated by regulation of the Board of Fisheries, where harvests are within sustained yield levels and where the management objectives include higher stock abundance or a need for a higher percentage of trophy-sized fish. Within special management areas, if the department determines that management objectives will not be met under existing regulatory provisions, the commissioner may, by emergency order, close the fishery and immediately reopen a fishery during which one or more of the following management measures apply:
(1) reduced fishing season;
(2) special gear restrictions;
(3) alternative size limits;
(4) catch-and-release fishing only.
(e) The department shall minimize potential conflicts with a subsistence fishery, or other fisheries that overlap the sport fishery, that harvest other fish within the same body of water.
History: Eff. 3/30/2006, Register 177
Authority: AS 16.05.060
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Last modified 7/05/2006