Supreme Court appeal filed in salmon price fixing case

Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An appeal was filed Tuesday in a class action suit brought by thousands of fishermen who allege that Bristol Bay packing houses and Japanese salmon buyers conspired to keep prices low.

Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski threw out the case last July, ruling that no reasonable jury could find proof of price-fixing among packers and other companies that buy and export Bristol Bay's prodigious summer salmon runs.

On Tuesday, attorneys for the more than 5,000 fishermen took their case to Supreme Court.

''We can't have a judge on the face of all the evidence throw the case out...,'' said Bruce Stanford, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Thirty-four defendants already have reached settlements in the case totaling about $11 million. The major companies, however, have not settled.

The Bristol Bay salmon run is the most lucrative salmon fishery in Alaska. Last year a harvest of about 25 million red salmon fetched more than $107 million at the docks.

Fishermen who harvest the reds with 32-foot boats and with nets stretched from shore accuse the packers -- and Japanese importers who buy fish and roe from them -- of breaking antitrust law by conferring among themselves to keep prices artificially low.

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