Feds reverse Kuskokwim subsistence decision

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Federal Subsistence Board on Thursday reversed a decision it made in late June that reduced sportfishing time on the lower Kuskokwim River, saying it had not adequately justified its earlier decision.

The ruling was a victory of sorts for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which had opposed the June 25 decision and subsequently appealed.

''This was an important clarification'' of the federal board's authority and its application of federal subsistence law,'' said Fish and Game spokeswoman Marianne See. However, she added, such conflicts are not unexpected as the dual management system of fisheries in rural Alaska matures.

The board reduced sportfishing time out of fairness to subsistence fishermen, who had agreed to fish only four days a week to help rebuild king and chum salmon runs. Kuskokwim-area subsistence fishermen lauded the decision, but because the board did not show that a conservation concern existed, it violated a section of federal subsistence law, said board member Gene Terland.

He urged users to work together to help ensure that disputes over salmon are resolved locally. ''That works much better'' than asking the subsistence board to referee, he said.

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