New fisheries group wants to ban setnetting
BY MOLLY DISCHNER, ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE
A newly formed fisheries organization wants to ban setnets in Cook Inlet.
The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, Inc., or AFCA, filed paperwork this afternoon to ban “shore gill nets and set nets” in nonsubsistence areas statewide.
The alliance wants the matter to go before voters on the 2016 primary ballot.
Next, the state must review the group’s petition and affirm that 200 registered voters have signed on as sponsors; Connors said he easily got 200 signatures in favor of the voter referendum.
Once the petition is approved, the group will have 365 days to get the additional signatures needed to place the matter on the ballot.
Cook Inlet’s commercial setnet fisheries are in what is considered the nonsubsistence area, and would be shut down by such an action.
Setnetters target red salmon, but incidentally catch some kings in their nets.
AFCA president Joe Connors said the group “absolutely” wants to shut down setnetters.
Connors said that his organization is in favor of shutting down setnetters to conserve king salmon. He said he was willing to also accept in-river closures to protect the resource, but that ADFG already restricts in-river users.
ADFG also shuts down setnetters in times of conservation concern, but Connors said that doesn’t happen enough.
In the summer of 2012, setnetters had virtually no fishing time.
Connors said the group is looking to start a statewide conversation about dipnets, and wanted to see the legislature and Board of Fisheries have time to discuss the matter before it was up for a public vote.
Connors said the legislature could also take action that would pre-empt the need for such a vote. Presumably, that would mean the legislature would ban the nets.
The fisheries alliance is the group formerly known as the Kenai King Conservation Alliance, or KKCA.
Both alliances registered at an Anchorage address, and have much overlap with the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, including sharing a founder – Bob Penney.
Connors said the alliance changed its name to better reflect the group’s focus on fisheries in general. Paperwork to create the AFCA was filed with the state in mid-October.
This summer, the king alliance made it’s first foray into the Cook Inlet fish wars by intervening on behalf of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the lawsuit regarding fishing time for setnetters. The Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund asserted that setnetters did not get enough fishing time; ADFG argued that they had managed appropriately. Judge Andrew Guidi did not grant the preliminary injunction CIFF requested, and the suit is still working its way through the court system.
Read the original article here.