Fish on! Ninth Circuit strikes down Seattle district court’s stop to SE Alaska king salmon troll fishery

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The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals put a stop to the implementation of a U.S. District Court decision that would have resulted in the closure of the chinook fishery in Southeast Alaska for the summer.

The controversy surrounding the chinook fishery arose due to a lawsuit by the Wildfish Conservancy, a Washington environmental lawsuit group that agued the troll fishery for chinook, also known as king salmon, poses a threat to 73 endangered orca whales that reside off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Those orcas prefer to eat king salmon, the litigants said, and Southeast Alaska troll fishers, some 700-850 miles away, were endangering the orcas.

The decision shows just how much elections have consequences. The Ninth Circuit, long considered the most liberal of all the circuits, has become more conservative after former President Donald Trump was able to replace 10 judges in three years.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Attorney General Treg Taylor, and Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang voiced their appreciation for the court’s decision.

“The 9th Circuit got it right when it found that Alaska’s fishing interests outweighed the ‘speculative environmental threats.’ There’s a gauntlet of obstacles before the Chinook reach our fishery. The ruling comes just in time so that our commercial troll fishers in Southeast have a season. And we are grateful for it,” Dunleavy said.

Attorney General Treg Taylor talked about the impact of the ruling on Alaska’s economy. “This is great news for Alaska and Southeast. The Ninth Circuit recognized the absurdity of closing down a vital economic industry for an issue that is already being remedied by the federal government. Thanks to the 9th Circuit, fishing season is on come July 1,” Taylor said.

Doug Vincent-Lang, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said, “We are pleased that the 9th Circuit agreed to allow the Southeast Alaska troll fisheries to operate this season. We are incredibly proud of the coalition formed to defend our fisheries. I want to thank all involved,” Vincent-Lang said.

Amy Daugherty, executive director of Alaska Trollers Association, wrote, “This has been an extremely challenging time for all of us.  But thankfully, with the State’s help and the Tribes’ recent declarations and our delegation, we have alerted the court to the disastrous consequences of a summer in SE without trolling.” 

Alaska has asserted that the Southeast commercial chinook troll fishery has minimal impact on the listed species. The state pointed out that the fishery faces numerous natural predators and hurdles before reaching the identified pod of whales.

Alaska’s legal filings stated, “Shutting down the Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries would have negligible, if any, impact on the Southern Resident Killer Whale, as any Chinook not caught in Southeast must travel some 700 miles past Canadian commercial and recreational fisheries, tribal fisheries, Northern Resident Killer Whale, and Steller sea lions, which are also predators of large Chinook, and Southern U.S. fisheries to reach the Southern Resident Killer Whale.”

The court order is below:

13 COMMENTS

  1. God bless Donald J. Trump. People over whales. Wacko lefty environmentalist lost, even to liberal judges. Trump put 3 on the US Supreme Court. He will put three more on the Court between 2025 and 2029.

    • Charlie,
      One of Trump’s great legacies is the installment of conservative Justices on the US Supreme Court. Joe Biden will get no appointments during his term in office. Why do you think the wacked out Democrats in Congress and the media are going after Clarence Thomas and Alito?

      • If Alito turned that huge king salmon over to his favorite Orca, the wackos may let him slide, this once.

  2. Where were they when the Puget Sound salmon fisheries were being decimated by the Treaty Gillnet fishing in the 80’s and 90’s? I was an enforcement officer for nearly every opening from 84 to 98, and the lack of reeling in (pun intended) the natives created the situation Puget Sound finds themselves in today. It took depleting the fisheries to bring the madness to an end. Conservation has no borders, no two tier system. If it’s bad for one, it’s bad for all.

    Maybe the Wildfish Conservancy has a mandatory vaccine policy. One can only hope!

    • Joel, the irony of it all is that a thing called the Oscillating Decadal North Pacific Current likely was the culprit for the dearth of Salmon in the Northwest back in the ’80s and ’90’s Blame was placed upon Dams, Fishermen, and the public at large for their selfishly existing upon this planet. Then in the late ’90s and early ’00s the current changed and Puget Sound and Northern California were awash in Salmon! Seems Ocean Survival is the driver here as it relates to salmon and man has little to do with it. But then what do I know about such things? It’s not like I’m a Judge, wait, wasn’t there a judge recently that couldn’t define what a woman is? Hmm…
      The march of folly continues unimpeded.

  3. In order to stop frivolous law suits Wildfish Conservancy should be made to pay all court costs. If you want to bring a law suit then prepare to pay if you lose.

  4. Thanks President Trump for overhauling the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which overturned this frivolous lawsuit. Commercial fishermen should take this as a lesson that elections have consequences and stop supporting fascist Democratic corporate stooges. If the pre Trump Ninth Circuit was intact this appeal would have ended much differently.

  5. Not the best news although I agree with the judges. As a lifelong AK conservative, stop the WA State bought and paid for Trawlers. Fish are rapidly getting smaller and in some instances disappearing. Caught a Yukon king lately? Ak red crab? Nope…….closed.

    • A federal judge in session is easily the most powerful person in America. Not even POTUS or Pelosi can touch them.

  6. Funny. All the Trump wimps here are like ‘oooh, Trump, … we ♥️ you!’ And: ‘you own the libs’ even though he’s about to go to prison!

    Now, the Ninth Circuit did the right thing, as the threat to Washington orcas from an Alaskan fishery 700 miles away is pretty far fetched, but it’s not because of Trump.

    They embarrass themselves with their obvious man crushes!

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