Cook Inlet Fisherman’s Fund appeals judge’s decision

  • By Molly Dischner
  • Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:58pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — The Cook Inlet Fisherman’s Fund is appealing a court decision that upheld the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2013 management of Cook Inlet salmon fisheries.

The fisherman’s fund, or CIFF, filed an appeal with the Alaska Supreme Court June 10, according to CIFF attorney Bruce Weyhrauch.

Next, the record in the case must be prepared, and a transcript of the proceedings provided to the court, and then CIFF can file its opening brief.

CIFF sued the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in July 2013, asserting that fisheries managers did not follow Cook Inlet salmon management plans appropriately that year and caused harm to commercial fishermen. After hearing oral argument May 29, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi granted the state’s motion for summary judgment on June 2. He wrote in his final decision that there was no evidence that ADFG had “exceeded its authority in executing the emergency plan promulgated by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Specifically, the Fund has failed to articulate any concrete way in which the Department overstepped its management authority other than the claim — already rejected on motion for preliminary injunction — that the Fund’s fishermen were entitled to 51 hours of extra fishing time by law.”

Weyhrauch listed seven points of appeal in the Supreme Court filing, asserting that the court erred at each step of the way, including when it granted ADFG’s motion for summary judgment and denied CIFF’s request for injunctive relief, constitutional claims, tort claims and discovery.

ADFG asked for summary judgment upholding its interpretation of the management plans in December, which was the focus of oral argument May 29.

CIFF opposed the request for summary judgment, and asked the judge to allow discovery so that more details about the 2013 management could be brought to light.

CIFF President John McCombs said that discovery would have helped CIFF — and the court — figure out what was going on with management last summer.

ADFG is responsible for day-to-day management of Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, while the Board of Fisheries approves the overarching management plans and makes allocative decisions for the fishery.

In recent years, the department has been tasked with conserving Kenai River king salmon, which have had particularly low returns, while allowing opportunities to harvest Kenai River sockeyes, which are plentiful.

CIFF had said that the eastside setnet fleet was harmed when ADFG limited fishing time to conserve king salmon. The setnetters primarily target sockeyes, but also catch kings.

Last summer, CIFF asked for a preliminary injunction requiring Fish and Game to follow certain aspects of the Cook Inlet salmon management plans, and both sides argued the case in Anchorage Superior Court.

Guidi ruled that the injunction was not necessary, in part because a remedy was available if he later determined that managers had erred, and in part because he would simply be substituting the court’s judgment for managers if he ruled in favor of changing their practices. Guidi referenced that decision in his order supporting ADFG’s motion for summary judgment.

CIFF, along with the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, has also challenged the federal decision that formally removed Cook Inlet from the federal salmon fishery management plan, eliminating the potential for federal oversight. That lawsuit is currently working its way through federal district court in Anchorage; oral argument was heard May 26, and a decision is pending.

McCombs said previously that the June 2 superior court ruling was a disappointment.

“I just don’t think the Department of Fish and Game did their job when it came to managing the fishery,” he said.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@alaskajournal.com.

More in News

This screen capture from surveillance footage released by the Anchorage Police Department shows a masked man vandalizing the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage in May. (Courtesy photo / APD)
Museums statewide condemn antisemitic vandalism

Two incidents, one in May, one in September, have marred the museum this year.

Three speech language pathologists with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District were recognized for excellence during the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association last month. (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Peninsula speech language therapists awarded for excellence

“I was very honored to be recognized by my peers and colleagues,” Evans said in an interview with the Clarion.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file)
Dial 10 for local calls

People placing calls will need to dial all 10 digits in order for the call to go through.

(Image courtesy CDC)
Soldotna man among newly reported COVID deaths

The state also announced 830 positive COVID cases Wednesday.

A spruce tree showing heavy damage from spruce bark beetles stands on Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ben Boetttger/Peninsula Clarion file)
Prescribed burning scheduled for Moose Pass, Cooper Landing

The burning is intended to mitigate the spread of spruce bark beetles.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula projects included in Murkowski appropriations requests

The funding requests run the gamut from funding for the Alaska SeaLife Center to expanding projects at the Central Peninsula Landfill.

Spruce trees are photographed in Seldovia, Alaska, on Sept. 26, 2021. (Clarion file)
Arbor Day grant application period opens

The program provides chosen applicants with up to $400 to buy and ship trees to their schools.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ark., leave the chamber after a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, May 10, 2017. A magistrate ruled Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, that there is probable cause for a case to continue against a man accused of threatening to kill Alaska’s two U.S. senators in profanity-filled voicemails left on their office phones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Grand jury will get case of man threatening to kill senators

He is accused of making threats against U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
Virus death toll soars

The state reported 66 more COVID deaths Tuesday, some recent and some as far back as April.

Most Read