State Says No Dice to Banning Setnets in Alaska

By Margaret Bauman
Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has rejected an initiative
brought by a Kenai Peninsula sport fishing group that would prohibit shore
gillnets and setnets in non-subsistence areas of Alaska.
Treadwell cited the advice of the Alaska Department of Law,
which called the proposed measure a prohibited appropriation under the Alaska
Treadwell said his office had received input from the
initiative sponsor, supporters and opponents, which was shared with the
attorney general’s office. He said all parties were urged to work together with
the Alaska Board of Fish to address their concerns about setnets and fisheries
Bill McKay, chairman of the board of the Alaska Fisheries Conservation
Alliance, and a retired senior vice president of Alaska Airlines, said he was
extremely disappointed with the decision. Clark Penney, executive director of
AFCA, said he was struggling to see the logic or legality of the decision.
The Alaska Salmon Alliance, which represents seafood
processors and commercial fishermen on the Kenai Peninsula, applauded the
decision. “We are elated by Lt. Gov. Treadwell’s decision to not certify this
job killing measure,” said Arni Thomson, executive director of the Alaska
Salmon Alliance.
“Though it was highly unlikely to ever pass, the setnetter ban
would have instantly destroyed the jobs of more than 500 Alaska families who
setnet to make a living. We are happy to see it dead on arrival.”
The alliance has 30 days to exercise their right for
judicial review of the decision, but has not decided what to do yet, said Joe
Conner, the charter service and lodge owner who is president of AFCA. 
was traveling when the decision was announced on Jan. 6, and said in a telephone
interview that he had not had a chance to read the related documents.
The Department of Law review notes that there are about 740
Cook Inlet setnet permits, of which about two-thirds are actively fished. By
comparison, the state review said, about 250,000 sport anglers harvested fish
in Cook Inlet and its drainages in 2012, plus thousands of Alaskans with
personal use permits fishing in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

The Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, which
represents commercial setnetters on the Kenai Peninsula, earlier denounced the
AFCAs initiative as “the latest incarnation of Bob Penney’s long running effort
to put more than 720 families and small business owners who work in Cook
Inlet’s setnet fishery out of business.”