Fish Radio

January 24, 2013

 Setnetter shut down plea goes back to court

Setnetters at Cook Inlet Credit:

Setnetters at Cook Inlet

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – The plan to shutdown Alaska setnetters goes back to court. More after this –

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 A measure aimed at banning salmon setnetting is being held afloat by backers. The ban includes the Anchorage area, much of the Kenai Peninsula, Valdez and Juneau. It would completely eliminate Cook Inlet setnetters and affect roughly 500 fishing families in all.

 Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell decided two weeks ago to not allow the question to go before Alaska voters as a ballot initiative in 2016.   The newly formed Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, based in Kenai, announced this week that an appeal was filed in Alaska Superior Court.  AFCA Director Clark Penney –   

 Today in a measure based on conservation and Alaska law, our organization will challenge the decision to disallow our proposed statewide commercial set net ban in the urban, non subsistence regions of Alaska from going to the state voters. 2

Alliance legal counsel, Matt Singer called the legal opinion “incorrect” –

The decision by the lt. gov and the opinion by the Attorney General – they are wrong on the law. The decision should it stand will set a dangerous precedent for Alaska. 4

The setnet ban is being driven primarily by the dwindling number of king salmon returning to Cook Inlet, which has curtailed salmon fishing across the board.  Removing setnetters would likely shift more fish to sport anglers and the salmon fleet targeting sockeyes.  Treadwell ruled   it amounts to fish allocation decisions, which can’t be made through a voter initiative.   The Alliance insists it’s a conservation measure.  Treadwell urged all users to find solutions and let decisions be made by the Board of Fish. Matt Singer said the group has no confidence in the Board.  

The board has not conserved kings and the voters have a right to express their will. 7

Sport fishermen would not oppose restrictions in the name of king conservation, said AFCA President Joe Connors  –

Please keep in mind concerning Kenai River guides  – they are at the lowest number in 20 years.  Last year there were 284   from a high of 420 guides 15 years ago.

Alliance founder and sport fish icon Bob Penney  said  he  recognizes the importance of commercial fishing in Alaska, but alleged that setnets  have  the “highest bycatch” of any fishing in state waters. Penney called setnets an inappropriate gear when king salmon were dwindling.

  You don’t wait till the kings are gone to say we should have done something. Now is the time to protect the fish. Conservation of the fish comes first.

 The ban is widely opposed by Alaska fishing groups and the City and Borough of  Kenai .  The Alliance hopes to fast track the setnet ban case so that a decision is made in the next few months.

Thanks to the assist from KDLL/Kenai.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine