The Cook Inlet Fisherman’s Fund is suing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for “unnecessarily and inappropriately [keeping] the fishermen from fishing in violation of the management plan.”
The suit claims that Commissioner Cora Campbell is playing favorites with the fisheries, opening some in accordance with the management plan, but denying others; specifically, commercial set net fishermen.
They state: “The Commissioner has decided to once again ignore the Plan and unilaterally manage the fishery under her own terms. As in 2012, this practice is again resulting in millions of lost dollars to CIFF’s permit holders. CIFF members have only fished a total of 28 extra hours this season.”
We spoke with Jeff Regnart, Director for Commercial Fisheries, about the suit…
Regnart: “There has been a suit filed. There was a motion two days ago, and a complaint, I think, filed today.”
The Fisherman’s Fund say they wrote to the Commissioner, demanding additional openings, but were denied, and so began pursuing a lawsuit. We asked Regnart if there will be any changes as a result…
Regnart: “No. We’re managing as we did last week, yesterday, this morning.”
Regnart was reluctant to comment further, since he hasn’t yet read the suit.
In excerpts obtained by the KSRM News Desk, the suit explains: “It is important to note that the Management Plan states that the Department shall close all three fisheries if the projected run is below 17,800 kings. It may not restrict to catch and release. It may not close the fishery to drift or set gillnet fishermen. Its only options are to leave the fishery open or close the entire fishery.”
Repeated requests to speak to Commissioner Campbell have been denied.