January 15, 2014
The Alaska Legislature's two Finance Subcommittees on the Department of Fish and Game held a public hearing in downtown Anchorage Tuesday to discuss a lawsuit underway in which a Southcentral driftnetters association is seeking federal oversight of Cook Inlet fisheries.
The lawsuit, filed by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) last year, challenges the validity of Amendment 12, an amendment to the federal Fishery Management Plan that allows for Alaska to regulate commercial salmon fishing in three areas of the state: The central part of Cook Inlet, the eastern part of Prince William Sound, and part of the waters off of the Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island. Originally filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the case was later moved to Alaska.
Amendment 12 removes federal oversight for those three areas under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which outlines the federal management of fishery resources across the coastal United States.
UCIDA wants Amendment 12 vacated, and federal oversight returned to Cook Inlet fisheries.
“It’s an unusual case, someone complaining about federal under-reach,” Lance Nelson, Senior Assistant Attorney General said Monday. Federal overreach, on the other hand, is a common cry by Alaskans, invoked in cases like the Environmental Protection Agency's raids on Chicken gold miners last summer, and the Federal government’s stance on prohibiting a road from Cold Bay to King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge on the Alaska Peninsula.