Kenai judge rules against fishing groups

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Superior Court judge in Kenai has ruled against two fishing groups seeking a temporary restraining order concerning Kasilof River fishing regulations.

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association filed the lawsuit June 28. They sought to force the department to disregard regulation changes made by the Alaska Board of Fisheries at its February meeting.

Specifically, they hoped to force the state to return to a Kasilof River sockeye escapement of 150,000 to 250,000 fish, as well as return some emergency order authority to department biologists.

But Judge Harold Brown said in his ruling Tuesday that the fishermen failed to show irreparable damage because of the department's actions.

The judge, however, did say that the plaintiffs raised serious questions about the validity of the escapement goals.

Roland Maw, executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, said the lawsuit forced the state to deal with some tough issues.

''We got them to address a number of issues,'' he said.

UCIDA President Bruce Gabrys said the key issue at hand is how the Board of Fisheries is abusing its management powers. He said the state needs to clarify which powers lie with the board, the commissioner and local biologists.

He said he doesn't believe the Board of Fisheries is capable of making management decisions without looking at in-season data.

''It's very difficult for the Board of Fish to meet in February and foresee every circumstance that can present itself in the next three years,'' he said.

The state declined to comment on the ruling saying it hadn't had sufficient time to review it.

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