Alaska: Gillnetters file law suit over new rules Published: 27 April, 2006
THE Copper River salmon harvest begins in three weeks, but tension is running high among Alaskan commercial fishermen. Fishermen in Alaska have filed a lawsuit in the State Superior Court in Anchorage against the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Department of Fish and Game, claiming that the board in December changed the fishery rules in ways that will limit their salmon catches and cost them millions of dollars, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Reportedly, they are especially upset about the board’s decision to cut fishing time for the fleet during the first couple weeks of the season, which is scheduled to open around May 15. The fish board’s objective is to allow more prime king salmon swimming the shallow waters of the Copper River delta to avoid capture in commercial nets and swim up the silty river where they can be caught by subsistence, personal use and sport fishermen. Commercial gillnetters contend in their suit that the board’s action was neither necessary nor adequately explained, and they’re asking the court to block the new fishing rules before the season begins. The lawsuit signifies a classic Alaska fish fight pitting different user groups all intensely interested in the fish. The 21-page lawsuit was brought by the gillnet division of Cordova District Fishermen United, a commercial fishing trade group with 275 gillnet members.
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