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State Fights Federal Actions that Threaten Alaskan Jobs

August 5, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska - The State of Alaska is taking steps to fight two recent federal government actions that threaten Alaska fisheries and jobs. 

Ocean Zoning/Marine Spatial Planning

President Obama recently signed an executive order creating a new federal bureaucracy tasked with setting ocean policy and requiring marine spatial planning - that is, ocean zoning - in all U.S. waters.

"The federal bureaucracy is too cumbersome already," Governor Sean Parnell said. "Creating more councils, committees and approval processes won't accomplish anything in this instance except create delay and greater obstacles to Alaska jobs and Alaska fisheries."

The governor was responding to Executive Order 13547, signed by the president, which creates regional planning bodies to develop marine spatial plans for all coastal waters. Ocean zoning is of great concern to fishermen, boaters and resource developers. The policy could have significant adverse impacts on commercial use and development in the oceans and coastal zone.

"Before statehood, when a distant federal bureaucracy managed our resources, Alaskans experienced devastating economic effects," Governor Parnell added. "In the midst of an economic downturn, the federal government should be more focused on private-sector job creation, not killing off opportunities for Alaskans."

The governor is also concerned the marine spatial plans would include state waters and potentially even upland areas, raising significant jurisdictional issues.

Steller Sea Lions and Alaska Fisheries

In addition, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed closing certain Alaska mackerel and cod fisheries to protect sea lions, despite an overall increase in the Steller Sea Lion population.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is conducting an evaluation of the federal government's recommended fishery restrictions while pushing for an independent scientific review.

The Department of Law is conducting a legal review of both of the recent federal government actions. Governor Parnell indicated the state is prepared to litigate to protect Alaskans' livelihoods and fisheries.

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