National Fisherman

Like Michael Myers in the "Halloween" movies, the Exxon Valdez oil spill case refuses to die.

That seems appropriate with Halloween almost upon us. Horror movie buffs, welcome to "Nightmare on Prince William Sound." Freddie Krueger would, um, kill to have his slasher movie franchise last this long.

Apparently, legal wrangling over punitive damage payments to plaintiffs in the Exxon saga isn't over. Lawyers for Seattle-based Sea Hawk Seafoods, a processing company that had a plant in Valdez, are asking a federal judge to set aside an allocation plan for distributing the $505 million Exxon-Mobil must pay plaintiffs.

According to an Anchorage Daily News article http://www.adn.com/exxonvaldez/story/561421.html, they wish to jettison the plan in favor of one that adheres to the Supreme Court ruling. Sea Hawk lawyers assert that the court ruled that the size of punitive damage awards must be proportional to the size of compensatory damage awards already paid to plaintiffs.

The prospect of further payment delay must be enormously frustrating to the 30,000 plaintiffs who've waited some 19 years for resolution to the case. It's said 3,000 plaintiffs died awaiting a ruling.

Meanwhile, this latest twist in the punitive damages court proceedings begs another question.

Given the magnitude of the Prince William Sound spill and the tortuous, drawn-out legal maneuvering, how did Alaska Gov. and Republican Party vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin draw a blank when CBS news anchor Katie Couric asked her to cite another Supreme Court ruling besides Roe v. Wade that she disagreed with?

It's especially puzzling given her and her husband's commercial salmon fishing background. How did the words "Exxon-Mobil" not flash in big neon letters in her head?

Now Palin did cite the Exxon-Mobil ruling, along with two others, in a subsequent interview with Fox News, saying that the decision "personally affected me." In an interview with Fox's Carl Cameron, Palin explained she was "flippant" in the Couric interview because she was annoyed at the line of questioning.

I doubt I'd fare any better than Palin if I was plopped in front of a TV camera and interviewed by a network news anchor. I might be hard pressed to remember my own name much less what Supreme Court decisions I disagreed with.

But I'm not running for vice president — and in essence president — of the United States. And if I were an Alaska fisherman whose life has been disrupted by the 1989 Valdez oil spill, I'd be wondering why the Exxon-Mobil case didn't come to Palin's mind.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

It is with great sadness that Furuno USA announced the passing of industry veteran and long-time Furuno employee, Ed Davis, on April 30.
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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is required by state statute to appoint someone to the Board of Fisheries by today, Tuesday, May 19. However, his efforts to fill the seat have gone unfulfilled since he took office in January. The seven-member board serves as an in-state fishery management council for fisheries in state waters.

The resignation of Walker’s director of Boards and Commissions, Karen Gillis, fanned the flames of controversy late last week.

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