Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

The Soldotna City Council unanimously passed a resolution to direct the city attorney to file an amicus brief in a contentious fishing court case during the body’s regular meeting on Wednesday.

The lawsuit — United Cook Inlet Drift Association and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund vs. National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends from south of Kalgin Island to about Anchor Point. An amicus brief refers to a legal brief filed by an outside party of a lawsuit to provide additional information to a court of law.

NOAA voted in November to close the commercial fishery in the zone, citing the need to optimize stock conservation in Cook Inlet.

The announcement has resulted in stark criticism, both from fishermen and local municipalities.

The Kenai City Council stated its opposition to the closure in July and the Homer City Council voted to file a brief in the lawsuit last month.

Soldotna City Council members echoed sentiments similar to those concerned about the ramifications of the commercial salmon closure.

Council member Dave Carey said he “strongly oppose(d)” the move made by federal agencies to bar commercial fishermen from harvesting in the EEZ.

“I think this is immoral, that (is), the destruction of the people and the culture, and this is what this is aimed at,” Carey said.

Council member Dan Nelson said the industry is historic to people living on the Kenai Peninsula, both socially and economically.

While Nelson said he supported the resolution to file an amicus brief, he also discussed some of the negative consequences of addressing the lawsuit.

“It’s not a good thing for us to stand silent when it’s something that’s important, I acknowledge that, but I am concerned a little bit about the precedent of weighing in on every piece of legislation that we may not be experts in,” Nelson said. “Fisheries politics is a nasty business and I have absolutely no doubt that this was politically motivated.”

Council member Justin Ruffridge said the EEZ closure could result in long-term consequences for the peninsula.

“For me it’s relatively simple,” he said. “There’s an area in which the citizens of our Kenai Peninsula Borough and many citizens of our town utilize those areas for their livelihood. A closure of that magnitude has effects that I think we actually probably can’t know.”

The council meeting can be viewed on the city’s website.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

From right, Soldotna City Council members Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Dan Nelson and Jordan Chilson listen to testimony during a council meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull limits on use of Soldotna ADUs as short-term rentals

Accessory dwelling units refer to subordinate, detached units

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Wildlife Troopers and CES rescue hunter missing for 12 hours

State troopers were notified around 6 p.m. Wednesday that the hunter hadn’t returned

The Alaska State Capitol awaits a legislators forming new majority coalitions and the return of Gov. Mike Dunleavy after the winners of the general election were announced Wednesday. The Senate will have a 17-member bipartisan ruling coalition, while the House arrangement remains uncertain due to at least one likely recount and questions about partisan alignments. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Bipartisan majority formed for new state Senate

Eight Republicans join nine Democrats after many years of Republican rule

Dr. Michael Reyes manipulates ROSA during a demonstration at Central Peninsula Hospital on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Knee surgeries get assist from robot arms

Robotic Surgical Assistant, called ROSA, is a new addition to CPH and the first in Alaska

During a hearing at the Juneau Courthouse, 34-year-old Anthony Michael Migliaccio pleaded not guilty after he was arrested on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of a 55-year-old Juneau woman. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Man arrested in Juneau killing pleads not guilty

News follows a two-month investigation.

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank presents during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai tries again to fill city manager position

After 1st round of negotiations fall through, Kenai to pursue Eubank for role

Soldotna Montessori Charter School kindergartners parade with balloons around the school playground on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Balloons on parade

Montessori kids put spin on traditional Macy’s parade

Most Read