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Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) Makes Strong Case In Superior Court To Allow Urban Set Net Ban Initiative on 2016 Primary Ballot

AFCA Looks Forward to Anchorage Superior Court Decision This Summer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) made a strong case in Anchorage Superior Court to win their challenge of the Alaska Lt. Governor’s denial of a ballot initiative application for an urban commercial set net ban.  The hearing was held at the Anchorage Courthouse this afternoon.

AFCA legal counsel Matt Singer argued the case, calling the Lt. Governor’s decision wrong and dangerous.  “Alaskan voters have a long history of using ballot initiatives to protect fish and game. Under the logic of the Lt. Governor's decision, several ballot initiatives, including a ban on fish traps and a ban on same day aerial wolf hunting, would never have been passed by the Alaska public,” he said. “I think we made that case today.”

AFCA Executive Director Clark Penney said, “We expect to win this case and look forward to a thorough, public debate on this important conservation issue in the urban, non-subsistence areas of the state; it is that simple. We believe the public has a right to vote on this issue.”

Today’s hearing is the next step in AFCA’s journey to have the set net ban initiative on the primary ballot in August 2016.

AFCA Board Chair Bill MacKay said, “We are pleased with our day in court and look forward to a positive resolution of this issue.”  

AFCA was formed to protect fish species in non-subsistence areas of Alaska that are threatened by over-fishing, bycatch or other dangers. The ballot initiative to ban set nets in urban, non-subsistence areas of Alaska is AFCA’s first effort.

The five state-designated, non-subsistence, urban areas of Alaska are Ketchikan, Juneau, Valdez, most of the areas immediately around Anchorage (including the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough) and Fairbanks. If voters approve the initiative, commercial set nets in these areas would be banned. In addition, set nets would be banned in any newly formed urban areas in the future.  

Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, New York and California have all banned set nets, and Washington and Oregon have severely restricted these same commercial set nets.

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