Charter fishermen sue to block king salmon cutbacks

Posted: Tuesday, June 06, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A group of fishing charter operators has sued to block the state from enforcing new king salmon restrictions in Southeast Alaska.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the limits last week out of concerns over the new Pacific Salmon Treaty agreement with Canada.

The restrictions prohibit charter boats from keeping king salmon between June 3 and the end of June if they fish more than four lines. Nonresidents fishing on charter boats will not be allowed to keep king salmon on any Wednesday through the end of July or any king salmon in the months of August and September.

Non-Alaskans fishing on charter boats will also not be allowed to keep kings in two areas of the outside coast around Sitka and Prince of Wales Island between July 12 and the end of July.

Larry McQuarrie, who owns Southeast Alaska Sportfishing adventures on Prince of Wales Island, said the Wednesday restriction and the four-line limit will hurt his operation.

''Everybody has prepaid, McQuarrie said. ''And they paid expecting to be able to fish on Wednesdays and expecting to be able to fish with a group of six on a boat.''

The complaint filed Monday in Superior Court in Ketchikan by the Alaska Sportfish Council contends the state didn't provide adequate public notice about the restrictions. It also argues that Wednesday closures and line limits are not reasonably necessary to accomplish the objectives of the management plan.

Gov. Tony Knowles told radio station KRBD in Ketchikan that he hopes future abundance will relax some of the measures. He said the state is trying to ensure that the conservation burden is shared equally.

''The one day a week -- the Wednesdays -- was taken out so those people that did have a three or four or five-day charter, that a majority of that charter could be taken after a king salmon with a one-per day retention,'' Knowles said, noting that charter operators could concentrate on halibut or other species on Wednesdays.

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