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Senator Huggins Applauds Attorney General’s Decision to Intervene in Legal Challenge of State’s Right to Manage Fisheries


Wednesday April 7, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - Senator Charlie Huggins, R-Mat-Su, today expressed his appreciation to the Parnell administration and Attorney General Daniel Sullivan for taking swift action to intervene in a federal lawsuit that challenges the right of the State of Alaska to manage its fisheries. The lawsuit, brought by commercial fishermen, contends that the state's personal use, resident-only dip net fisheries on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers are unconstitutional and seeks to have state management pre-empted by the federal government.

In a resolution (SJR 22) introduced a year ago, Huggins, working closely with Representative Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, who introduced a companion resolution, called on the administration to defend Alaska's state's rights, as well as the personal use fisheries that thousands of Alaskan families rely on to fill their freezers.

"A person cannot emphasize too strongly how important the dip net fisheries are to Alaskan families; it is imperative that we retain management and control of them," Senator Huggins said. "We should bear in mind that 50 years ago, the total failure of the federal government to manage our fisheries was a primary motivation behind the drive to statehood. To revert back to federal management, as the plaintiffs in this case want to do, would be a disaster for Alaska."

Senator Huggins said the Attorney General's decision to file a motion with the court to intervene as a defendant was the right thing to do.

"By joining in this lawsuit less than a week after SJR 22 cleared the Legislature indicates to me the administration has the same sense of urgency and need for protection on this issue that I do," Senator Huggins added. "Threats to our state's rights and sovereignty cannot be taken lightly.

"The plaintiffs want the federal government, through their interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, to restrict the personal use dip net fishery to make more salmon available to commercial and non-resident fishers," Senator Huggins said. "Yet, under their limited entry permits, they are allowed to keep as many fish as they want for their own personal consumption. This is another skirmish in the on-going battle between user groups, which the state Board of Fisheries has been challenged to balance over the years. There is simply no reason to throw out state management, and many good reasons not to."

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