State challenges Seattle judge order halting SE Alaska king commercial troll fisheries

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A federal district court judge in Washington state issued an order Tuesday that closes Southeast Alaska’s commercial chinook salmon troll fisheries.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones ruled in favor of the group Wild Fish Conservancy, which sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, saying that Southeast Alaska fishermen are catching chinook salmon needed to feed killer whales in Puget Sound and as far south as Oregon, in violation of the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

In December, a Seattle magistrate issued a recommendation terminating commercial salmon harvesting until an environmental review could be conducted. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson said that ending the Southeast Alaska chinook troll fishery is the most appropriate remedy.

Magistrate Peterson’s decision was not finalized until Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Jones.

The State of Alaska Department of Law plans to appeal the ruling:

“The order by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones upheld a magistrate’s earlier opinion by adopting, in part, a report and recommendation that vacates the incidental take statement for the Southeast Alaska winter and summer commercial chinook troll fishery, which has the practical effect of closing the fishery until a new ITS [incidental take permit] is in place,” the Department of Law said.

“Vacating the ITS and effectively closing the fishery is a radical step. We’ll continue to pursue every available avenue in defense of Alaska’s fisheries,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “We understand the critical importance of this fishery to the affected fishermen and communities across Southeast. We will be filling a request to stay the order pending appeal and immediately notifying the Ninth Circuit that an appeal is forthcoming.”

“We have a responsibility to look out for our fisheries and the Southeast coastal communities and families that rely on them,” said Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang. “The State of Alaska abides by the terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the Biological Opinion that is tied to it, and it is troubling that this ruling singles out our fisheries.”

Alaska argued in its filed pleadings that the Southeast commercial chinook troll fishery has little effect on the listed species, especially considering the gauntlet of predators between the fishery and the identified pod of whales.

“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.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. State of Alaska has been the worst managers of Fish and game for several decades with Doug Vincent Lang working at the direction of Governor Dunleavy who holds on to this falsehood written in a particular bible that indicates man take domain over resources.
    King Salmon have been in trouble for may years as there declined numbers have shown.

  2. Long live the killer whales. Screw mankind and the fishing boats he rode in on! Environmental wackos and climate change clowns are running the courts now. Soon, all decisions will turn on dementia logic and burned-out druggies from the past. This is where our country is headed……..on a quick pace.

  3. Wow, how about Liberal Seattle stays in their own lane and state and respects our sovereignty? Maybe they need an economic wake up call. We have the largest commercial airport shipping capacity in the region. We should stop all flights and shipments between AK and Seattle and see how their businesses fair then.

  4. This has nothing to do with feeding Orcas and everything to do with crippling an Alaskan industry the left doesn’t agree with.

    • The judge should also block all wind farms because of bird deaths and piss off other states. I will agree that the Alaska Fish and Game does a poor job managing our resources but it is a state matter not Seattle’s.

    • Masked Avenger, The Troller’s themselves tend to be quite greenie and leftist, this is an irony that should point to the need for Alaskans to work together and to have each others backs.

  5. Feed the whales so that the Asian people can harvest them. Makes perfect sense. Plus it means more bycatch salmon for foreign poachers, which remains unchecked.

  6. How sweet it is; how sweet it is; how sweet it is. Why should we care if commercial fishing is curtailed? An elite group have exclusive franchises to harvest our public resource (salmon)…. merely because they fished in their youth? Meanwhile, the rest of us are locked out? And they can sell their franchises (permits) for huge profits. I did a little commercial trolling at 11-yrs old in 1967; but it never secured me a privilege franchise…. nor do I think it should have. The harvest should be allocated by annual competitive bidding open to anyone. The revenue should go to the public owner (state). The corrupt system is exclusively rigged for a privileged elite few. Its tyranny.

  7. Shutting down an industry because they think orcas only eat salmon?! The ‘court’ holds that they can shut down salmon fishing because of the pacific salmon treaty, correct? If abiding by that treaty means no salmon fishing, are they only shutting down the U.S. fisheries? If ‘we’ are supposed to be protecting salmon from being fished, what are we doing to stop the Canadians? How about the Russians an the Asian countries. Do we have gunboats patrolling salmon migration zones? Are we torpedoing factory ships? Of course not. This is simply a way for the tree huggers to shut down OUR industry. It’s no different than shutting down other industries for certain types of pollution but doing nothing to reduce the same pollutants from China or India.

  8. Unbelievable that anyone with a brain living in Alaska would give a crap what someone in Seattle “believes”.

  9. How about this moronic Washington “judge” take some action against the Seattle based factory trawlers fishing in the Gulf of Alaska & Bering Sea where they have already caught almost 25,000 King salmon as bycatch this year! For that matter where is the outrage from our Congressional delegation over this travesty of justice? As usual, the Three Stooges are quiet. They may be stupid, but they aren’t dumb enough to bite the corporate hands that feed them!

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