Alaska Lt. Governor Denies Ballot Initiative Application for Statewide Commercial Set Net Ban
Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance Calls Decision Puzzling
Following Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell’s denial of its ballot initiative application calling for a commercial fishing set net ban in the five urban, non-subsistence areas of Alaska, the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) is reviewing the Lt. Governor's decision and evaluating a possible legal challenge. This is an important statewide issue.
“This decision is puzzling,” said AFCA Executive Director Clark Penney. He continued, “I want to thank the Lt. Governor, the Alaska Division of Elections and the Alaska Department of Law for doing their due diligence, however I struggle to see the logic or the legality of this decision.”
According to AFCA legal counsel, the ballot initiative meets Alaska’s statutory requirements and should be in the signature gathering stage at this point.
AFCA Board Chair Bill MacKay said, “I am extremely disappointed in this decision. This initiative is clearly statewide and seeks no authority to regulate or allocate fisheries management in our state. We should be out gathering signatures today, not looking at lawsuits.”
AFCA was formed to protect fish species in non-subsistence areas of Alaska that are threatened by over-fishing, bycatch or other dangers.
Historically, Alaska's very first ballot initiative, on the same ballot as the statehood referendum, was an initiative on whether or not to ban an outdated and harmful method for taking fish – namely, fish traps. This effort is but the latest in a long string of initiatives where Alaskans have exercised their rights to protect fish and wildlife by regulating improper methods and means for harvest.
A set net ban is far from unique. Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, New York and California have all banned set nets. Washington and Oregon have severely restricted commercial set nets. In the 25 years since the first state took this step, no set nets have been allowed to return. Not one fish processor in these states went out of business after set nets were banned.