Friday, February 8, 2013

Battle for Cook Inlet salmon goes to court

United Cook Inlet Drift Association has filed a lawsuit over a recent amendment to the federal fishery management plan for salmon off Alaska.

UCIDA, which represents commercial drift gillnet fishermen, is upset that certain areas, including the federal waters of Cook Inlet, were excluded from the FMP with Amendment 12.

The way UCIDA sees it, the state has done a poor job of managing the Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, and now the feds have formally abandoned salmon oversight.

Cook Inlet, of course, is the most contentious of Alaska's fishing grounds due to the bitter rivalry between the commercial and sportfishing sectors.

The suit, filed in the federal court in Washington, D.C., names the National Marine Fisheries Service and top Commerce Department officials as defendants.

Lance Nelson, an Alaska assistant attorney general, tells Deckboss the state will move to intervene in the suit to defend Amendment 12.


Anonymous said...

If there is truly justice in the world, the Judge will see that Cook Inlet commercial fishermen have been jerked around by State mismanagement for half a generation. The BOF and most recently the NPFMC (dominated by appointees nominated by the Governor, thus controlled by the State)have been managing the fishery based on politics, not science since there was a great king run in the Kenai.

And, I hope that the Judge provides for compensation for all the dental work that fishermen in the Inlet have had to succumb to after being kicked in the teeth so often and for so long.

The most recent KRSA/Johnstone flap and the new rookie appointee to the BOF demonstrate the ongoing benefits of political management.

Anonymous said...

You mean the most recent UFA debacle, don't you. As for the lawsuit, UCIDA and its affiliate organization have no hope for victory. The case is meritless. The State of alaska will be permitted to intervene and it is likely that the case will never get to a trial. Instead of finding a workable solution through negotiation and regulations, UCIDA once again shows how belligerent it can be. One would think that the continuous insulting of the Dept and the BOF might be counter productive to UCIDA goals. What are they thinking? When the likes of Maw and Martin are at the helm however,, expect their ship of lawsuits to go on the rocks. Wait until the UCI meeting when UCIDA meets its waterloo. The Northern district will rule the day then. UCIDA's days of intercept fishing are numbered.

Anonymous said...

UCIDA must have a lot of money available from its members to burn through on meritless lawsuits.

Guess the past couple of banner years in Cook Inlet for drifters gave them a lot of excess cash to lawyer up.

Anonymous said...

How do you spell meritless 8:36?


Anonymous said...

those who consider the UCIDA lawsuit meritless are apparently not able to take a level headed look at a complex set of facts, historic rulings, and language written in law to draw an objective conclusion. The link provided above illustrates that UCIDA prevailed in their most recent challenge. Many at the time considered this one meritless as well.

It is a shame that the process has to degenerate to the courtroom. If the State and the BOF had pretended, even just a little bit, to promulgate regulations based on good science rather than blatant social engineering, then perhaps the voyage to the courtroom would be unnecessary. There simply has been NO attempt at compromise as the BOF has run roughshod over Cook Inlet fisheries, so what alternative to fishermen have? We could sit idly by and kiss the fishery goodbye, but there are just too many families impacted. Too much at stake in the local economy. The voyage to the courtroom is no more difficult than a voyage to the middle inlet in a storm. Here come da judge!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the UCIDA group sure has been suffering. They got ALL the fish last year, and have had very big catches the last few years. And prices have been pretty good. Greed is a funny thing. The more you get the more you want. Their motto is 'all for one and one for one" The UCIDA day of reckoning is coming!

Anonymous said...

@ 1:06 PM C'mon. It's not like these drifters are making millions. They finally got a couple well deserved wacks to keep up on some deferred maintenance, and make alittle cash and everyone wants to tear them down again. How may goddamn fish do you need to catch sport fishing, and if you're a setnetter you have had a good run of it for the last oh...twenty years.

Anonymous said...

"Memory is a net: one that finds it full of fish when he takes it from the brook, but a dozen miles of water have run through it without sticking."

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Anonymous said...

Looking foreward to having the State intervene. It will be interesring to see how the State is going to explain away the Kenai River King count form this past summer. During July ADF&G kept saying that the Kenai River King run was the lowest return in 30 years. As a result all king fishing was stopped. Every King had to be saved as there were so few kings that the Whole Eastside setnet Fishery and Sport fisheries were closed. ADF&G even convinced the Gov to declare a 'King disaster'. Then the Gov got the Congressional delagation to Support the Sec of Commerce to declare a 'National disaster'
The Kenai River King escapement goal is 17,800.
The inseason escapement goal was about 21,000. Yes there were a few Kings that showed in Aug.
Then ADF&G decided to look behind the DIDSON sonar unit. The Didson unit is 10+meters out in the river from the riverbank. Surprise - surprise there were Kings going up the Kenai River behind the Didson unit that were not being counted. The Didson unit is under 20+ft of water at high tide. Surprise-surprise there are Kenai kings swimming over the top of the Didson unit at high tide.
You would think that someone could of figured out the 'behind and above' the sonar Kings passages in the last 25+ years.The Didson and the older split-beam sonar units are in similiar locations in the River.

Bottom line is that the 'revised 2012 Kenai River Late-run King count' is 28,640.This includes an adjustment for the 'behind and above' Kings. A full 10,000 above the escapement goal.
Kida makes the 'lowest king run in 30 years' look foolish and the 'disaster' declaration questionable.
It is going to be interesting to see how the State explains away some of these King counts, let alone which one is the real count.

Just in case you are wondering, yes, these type of errors are occurring throught the State. Kinda makes you wonder what are the real King counts around the State??

And some may wonder why UCIDA is asking for some fereral oversight.
If the State is doing such a great job then how did this king counting issue happen?
The State has already admitted that the sockeye counts in the Mat-su were worthless and have tossed out 30 years of these sockeye counts.

Anonymous said...

The link is to a court case heard in state court, and the case set no state case law as the ruling was temporary in nature.

That case revolved around an error in regulations for the drift management plan and how to deal with fixing the error.

The Board of Fisheries and the Department subsequently corrected that error in regulation.

The drift fleet fished under those corrected regs this past summer, and had one of their top ex-vessel earning years on record.

The court case referenced above will have no bearing on the Federal court case on whether or not the NPFMC has the authority under MSA statutes to delegate salmon management to the state of Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Having to go to Court is becoming a way of life for Fishermen in Alaska because Special Interests dominate the scene without merit from the poor guys.

Shut it all down and start over again. Greedy people want it all.