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Judge rules setnet ban ballot initiative allowable

Posted: July 23, 2014 - 4:17pm  |  Updated: July 23, 2014 - 7:22pm

ANCHORAGE — Voters could to be asked to decide whether to ban setnets in certain parts of Alaska under a court decision made Wednesday.

The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, or AFCA, filed a ballot initiative petition in November seeking to ask voters whether to ban setnets in urban parts of the state, which would primarily impact Upper Cook Inlet setnetters.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Catherine Easter overturned Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s decision not to certify the proposed ballot initiative in a Wednesday ruling and ordered the lieutenant governor to certify the initiative and allow proponents to continue the process toward getting the question on the 2016 ballot.

Treadwell struck down the initiative in January based on a state Department of Law opinion asserting that it would be a prohibited appropriation.

AFCA appealed, and during oral argument, attorney Matt Singer said that organization believed the initiative is not an appropriation, and that the public’s right to weigh in on fish and wildlife management using the ballot initiative process should be interpreted broadly, with the appropriations limitation interpreted narrowly.

Upper Cook Inlet setnetters target sockeye salmon for commercial harvest. Their permits also allow to them to target other salmon species, including kings, that swim into the nets.

Eliminating setnetters in Cook Inlet would likely result in increased catch for in-river sport fishermen, personal-use fishermen, and for the fleet of drift boats targeting sockeye.

Easter agreed with AFCA that the initiative was not a prohibited appropriation.

“(The initiative) does not result in a give-away program or usurp legislative control over the salmon allocation process,” Easter wrote.

In a July 23 press release, AFCA supported the decision. Singer argued the case during oral argument in April, and highlighted the history of ballot initiatives that preserve Alaska’s fish stocks.

“Alaskan voters have a long history of using ballot initiatives to protect fish and game,” Singer said in the statement.

The state’s argument relied, in part, on a prior case — Pullen vs. Ulmer — in which the court said an initiative giving preferential treatment to one user group was a prohibited appropriation.

Easter wrote in her order that the two cases were substantially different, and that comparing the two was like comparing apples and oranges.

Proponents of the setnet ban must still collect about 35,000 signatures before the question can appear on the ballot.

According a its release, AFCA will start collecting signatures once the Alaska Division of Elections finishes preparing the signature packets.

Easter’s decision may also still be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@alaskajournal.com.

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mikehu
174
Points
mikehu 07/24/14 - 01:00 am
2
0
Hope the Voters See the Bigger Picture in Mind Here

Please, you're kidding on this right? A little bit at a time is all it takes to eliminate the commercial industry

mikehu
174
Points
mikehu 07/24/14 - 09:25 pm
3
0
It Won't Stop Here

Just as the commercial fishing time/season was pared and sliced razor thin little by little over time - now the same thing is being done spatially/geographically, just a little at a time. After they close the northern inlet, the east side set netters and drift fleet will be next. It is a slow suffocating death with the foot on the throat being pressed down gradually.

Our political people really need to look past votes and see the economic benefits commercial fishing also brings.

KenaiKardinal88
541
Points
KenaiKardinal88 07/24/14 - 07:36 pm
0
6
Commie Fishers Steal From Alaskans

It's summer on the Kenai and once again the commercial fishers are ruining the King and Red salmon runs.

ADF&G has always shown favoritism towards commie interests. This summer is no different.

The King salmon run is in ruins and the reds are being over-fished - all so a bunch of greedy, part-time thugs can steal from us.

Commie fishers take more from Alaska than they will ever give back.

mikehu
174
Points
mikehu 07/24/14 - 09:21 pm
2
0
KK

KK there are enough fish for all of us. Heck leave the river alone for awhile and eat sockeye for a few years. The kings will come back if left to spawn once they get in river. It worked for commercial fishermen in the sixties and I bet it would work for you now. Meanwhile leave the CF industry to be managed by its own team of biologists. We've seen some swings of our own and made according changes in our 115 years on this inlet.

kenai123
1352
Points
kenai123 12/27/14 - 08:27 pm
0
1
That Is Correct, It Did Not Stop There

AN INITIATIVE TO PROHIBIT SET NETS IN URBAN AREAS new

AN INITIATIVE TO PROHIBIT SET NETS IN URBAN AREAS
http://static.squarespace.com/static/525edfb8e4b07b05fff5415b/t/52799d47...

AN INITIATIVE TO PROHIBIT SET NETS IN URBAN AREAS
A BILL BY INITIATIVE FOR AN ACT ENTITLED

“An Act providing for the protection and conservation of Alaska’s fisheries by prohibiting shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas.” BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: * Section 1.
The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a section to read:
FINDINGS AND INTENT. (a) The people of the State of Alaska find that:
(1) The state permits the use of shore gill nets and set nets, which is a method of taking fish that involves anchoring a net perpendicular to shore. Fish swim into and are
entangled in the net;
(2) Within a non-subsistence area, shore gill net and set net fishing is an antiquated method of harvesting fish that indiscriminately kills or injures large numbers of non-target species;
(3) Within a non-subsistence area, the use of shore gill nets and set nets is wasteful of fisheries resources because they have a high mortality rate for fish that manage to
escape the netting and because they produce a high amount of by-catch of non-targeted species compared to other, more selective forms of fishing;
(4) Shore gill nets and set nets have been banned in numerous states and countries due to their indiscriminate method of take;
(5) There is significant pressure on fisheries resources in areas of the state designated for non-subsistence use, as these areas are proximate to the state’s urban
population centers. The harvesting of fish in non-subsistence areas requires more restrictive and protective means than in subsistence are as in order to minimize by-cat
ch of non-targeted species. Shore gill nets and set nets are particularly inappropriate in these areas of high fishing pressure and the continued use of this method of take is inconsistent with Alaska’s constitutional obligation and commitment to sustainable fisheries;
6) Limiting the use of shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas as provided herein will materially contribute to the long-term conservation and development of
fisheries and ensure consistency with the sustained yield principle; and (7) While shore gill nets and set nets are occasionally used for customary and traditional use or personal use fishing within non-subsistence areas, those uses have a minimal biological impact on fisheries, whereas other use of this indiscriminate method of take in non-subsistence areas has significant potential to harm fisheries resources.
(b) It is the intent of the people of the State of Alaska that this Act prohibit the use of shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas of the state for all purposes, except for customary and traditional use or personal use fishing.
(c) It is the intent of the people of the State of Alaska that this Act not place any limitation on the legislature’s or the Board of Fisheries’ discretion to allocate fish among competing users.
* Section 2.
Article 6 of AS 16.05 is amended by adding a new section to article 6 to read: 16.05.781. Set gill-netting in non-subsistence areas prohibited.

While shore gill nets and set nets are occasionally used for customary and traditional use or personal use fishing within non-subsistence areas, those uses have a minimal biological impact on fisheries, whereas other use of this indiscriminate method of take in non-subsistence areas has significant potential to harm fisheries resources.
(b) It is the intent of the people of the State of Alaska that this Act prohibit the use
of shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas of the state for all purposes, except for customary and traditional use or personal use fishing.
(c) It is the intent of the people of the State of Alaska that this Act not place any
limitation on the legislature’s or the Board of Fisheries’ discretion to allocate fish among
competing users.
* Section 2.
Article 6 of AS 16.05 is amended by adding a new section to article 6 to read: 16.05.781. Set gill-netting in non-subsistence areas prohibited.

(a) Except for customary and traditional use or for personal use fishing, a person may
not use a shore gill net or set net to take fish in any non-subsistence area. This section shall control over any other provision to the contrary.
(b) For purposes of this section, “customary and traditional” has the meaning used in
AS 16.05.940(7), “personal use fishing” has the meaning as used in AS16.05.940(26), “shore gill net” and “set net” have the meaning as used in AS 38.05.082 and “non-subsistence area” has the meaning as used in AS 16.05.258(c).
(c) Nothing in this section shall affect the use of shore gill nets and set nets to take
fish in subsistence areas.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed as a limitation on the legislature’s or the
Board of Fisheries’ discretion to allocate fish among competing users.
* Section 3.
The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:
It is the intention of the people of Alaska that the provisions of AS 16.05.781, as enacted, are independent and severable, and if any provision of AS 16.05.781 shall be held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of AS16.05.781 shall not be affected and shall be given effect to the fullest extent possible. References to Alaska Statutes in AS 16.05.781 are as in effect as of September 1, 2013.
* Section 4.
The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:
This Act shall take effect immediately upon enactment.

http://static.squarespace.com/static/525edfb8e4b07b05fff5415b/t/52799d47...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance AFCA, INC. Plaintiff v. Mead Treadwell Lieutenant Governor of the State of Alaska, Defendant.

"This Court finds that 13PCAF is a permissible regulatory measure leaving the Board of Fisheries, through the Legislature and only the Legislature, with the ongoing authority to continue to control the allocation of salmon among competing users. Adopting the rule of law that is the most persuasive in light of precedent, reason and policy this Court holds that 13PCAF does not appropriate a public asset 13PCAF does not result in a give-away program or usurp legislative control over the salmon allocation process. The Court grants summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Court reverses the Lieutenant Governor's decision and orders that 13PCAF be certified. It is so ordered. Dated at Anchorage, Alaska this 23rd day of July 2014. Catherine Easter Superior Court Judge."

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