Set Netters Gain Support In Effort to Keep Ban Off Ballot

A coalition of fisheries industry interests has filed an
amicus brief in support of the state of Alaska’s decision that a set netter ban
initiative cannot proceed to the statewide ballot in August 2016.
The filing comes in the wake of a decision announced in
January by Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, based on advice from the Alaska
Department of Law that the initiative was unconstitutional. The initiative
sponsors, who are sport anglers, are now suing the state in the Alaska Superior
Resources for All Alaskans, a statewide coalition of
organizations and individuals opposed to the ban on set netters, announced its
decision to file the amicus brief on March 7.
“Alaska has a time-tested process for managing our
resources,” said Jim Butler, president of the coalition, who has been a
commercial set netter for over 30 years. “Even though some of us may not always
agree with the results from that process, it should be open, public,
understandable and based in law.
“Allocating resources by initiative is not only
unconstitutional, but it is also bad public policy. The proposal to ban set
netters is particularly destructive because it doesn’t address the real reasons
for declining king salmon populations and would instantly destroy 500 small
Alaska family businesses and hundreds of other jobs.”

Members of the coalition board also include John Garner, a
former member of the Board of Fisheries, and executive vice president of
Trident Seafoods; Jerry McCune, president of United Fishermen of Alaska and
Cordova District Fishermen United; Dale Kelley, executive director of Alaska
Trollers Association; Duncan Fields, a Kodiak set netters and member of the
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; and Robin Samuelson, a veteran
Bristol Bay fisherman who has served on the Board of Fisheries and the North
Pacific Fishery Management Council.