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

Emerson Kapp, second-place winner of the 2023 Caring for the Kenai competition, shows participants how to use her project, the Kenai Peninsula Maze Board, during the Kenai River Festival on Friday, June 9, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Fair to offer education, fun for free on June 8

Kenai Watershed Forum’s annual summer event gets new name, renewed focus on education

A sign marks the entrance of Centennial Park and Campground on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tree planting event set for Centennial Park

Planting trees in the area is a crucial method for protecting and rehabilitating the streambank, organizers say

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Erosion of the Kenai bluff near the Kenai Senior Center. (Photo by Aidan Curtin courtesy Scott Curtin)
Ribbon-cutting for bluff stabilization project set for June 10

The bluff has been eroding at a rate of around 3 feet per year

A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
No clamming in Ninilchik or Clam Gulch this year

Adult abundance “well below” fishery thresholds on both beaches

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering the sacrifices of the fallen

Speakers ask community to be inspired through sacrifice of service members

A fallen tree reaches onto Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, as cars drive by on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Grants, borough to support HEA effort to mitigate dangerous trees

HEA will have permission to enter borough land and the borough’s right of way

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Most Read