Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Subsistence fishing rights in Alaska to king salmon protected:

On Friday, May 12th, the Native American Rights Fund successfully represented upper river subsistence users in a challenge to a Board of Fisheries decision that limited commercial fisheries at the mouth of the Copper River to allow increased number of king salmon upriver to meet subsistence needs. The challenge was brought by the Cordova Gill-net Fishermen United who argued that the limit would harm their financial profits. Judge Craig Stowers rejected a request for an injunction on regulations that would have eased limits on commercial fishing. Citing testimony from upriver subsistence users who say they are not catching enough fish to feed their families, Stowers ruled against Cordova District Fishermen United, which represents the Cordova commercial fishing fleet.

Subsistence needs "trump" all other uses, regardless of how hard Cordova commercial fishermen have worked to create a market for Copper River king salmon, Stowers said.

"In light of Alaska's public policy to protect and promote subsistence use and in light of the undisputed evidence that subsistence users testified that they were not receiving enough fish, the court finds that an injunction would cause significant harm to them," Stowers ruled.

Related News Story:

• • Limits on king harvest upheld (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner) 5/18/06