Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance Wins Court Case on Urban Set Net Ban in Alaska
Group Sets Sights on Placing An Urban, Non-Subsistence Commercial Set Net Ban Question on the August 2016 Ballot
Following the decision by the Anchorage Superior Court, the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) is starting the process to gather signatures and is moving toward its goal of having voters decide if set nets should be banned in urban, non-subsistence areas of Alaska.
“We want to thank the Superior Court for its prompt and appropriate decision,” said Clark Penney, AFCA Executive Director. “Our entire board and all of our members are humbled and excited by this decision and the opportunity to get this conservation issue in front of voters in 2016.”
The ruling allows the Alaska Division of Elections to prepare signature packets. As soon as those packets are ready, AFCA will begin collecting signatures.
AFCA legal counsel Matt Singer argued the case and highlighted the history of ballot initiatives that preserve Alaska’s fish stocks. “Alaskan voters have a long history of using ballot initiatives to protect fish and game.”
“We want to make one point very clear as we move forward,” said AFCA board chair Bill MacKay. “The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance is supportive of commercial fishing in Alaska. It is an economic engine in our state and anyone who says we opposes this valuable industry is dead wrong.”
AFCA’s Bob Penney agreed, “While the group Resources for All Alaskans opposes our efforts, we support most of its members’ commercial fishing efforts, including the Cook Inlet Drift Fleet. This set net ban initiative is a conservation-based approach that is limited to one style of fishing – set nets. They are a wasteful means of fishing that kill or maim everything in their path.”
AFCA was formed to protect fish in urban, non-subsistence areas of Alaska that are threatened by over-fishing, bycatch or other dangers. The ballot initiative to ban set nets in only urban, non-subsistence areas of Alaska is AFCA’s first effort.
The five state-designated urban, non-subsistence areas include most of the areas immediately around Anchorage (including the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough), Fairbanks, Juneau, Valdez and Ketchikan. If voters approve the initiative, commercial set nets in these areas would be banned.
Non-subsistence urban areas amount to 10 percent of Alaska’s land but hold approximately 70 percent of its population. Subsistence set nets in rural Alaska and personal use fishing, such as dip-net fishing in urban Alaska, will not be affected by this initiative.
Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, New York and California have all elected to set nets, and Washington and Oregon have severely restricted commercial set nets.
For more information, please visit www.akfisheries.org.