JUNEAU – Yesterday, on a vote of 35-1, the House passed House Joint Resolution 5 by Representative Himschoot calling on the Federal Government and State of Alaska to continue to defend Alaska’s fisheries, including the Southeast Alaska troll fishery and do everything within their power to keep the fishery open.
The Southeast Alaska troll salmon fishery is being threatened by a lawsuit filed by the Washington State-based environmental group Wild Fish Conservancy, which seeks to stop the Southeast troll fishery over what the group sees as impacting southern resident killer whales in Puget Sound. A recent report from a Magistrate Judge in Washington recommended not allowing the retention of Chinook during the winter and summer troll seasons of the Southeast Alaska troll fishery. This would be devastating for the troll fleet and have a significant economic impact on the region.
“With overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, this suit seeks to hold the Southeast Alaska troll fishery responsible for the decline in southern resident killer whales, about 1000 miles to the south,” said Representative Rebecca Himschoot (District 2 – Sitka). “The Southeast troll fishery has been sustainably managed for over a hundred years, and it continues to be today, and I am thankful the legislature recognizes the importance of this resolution.”
Trolling is a low barrier, sustainable fishery where fishermen from nearly every community in Southeast Alaska catch each fish with hook and line. There are approximately 1450 trollers contributing over $85 million to the economies of coastal Alaska.
“I hope the overwhelming bipartisan support for this resolution sends a clear message,” said Representative Louise Stutes (District 5 – Kodiak). “We will not stand by and watch as outsiders attempt to interfere with the livelihoods of Alaska’s trollers, families, and communities.”
If the Wild Fish Conservancy is successful with this lawsuit, it will set a dangerous precedent for a broad range of Alaska’s fisheries.
“To the commercial troll fishermen, we have your back. Passing this resolution was imperative for the legislature to signal our overwhelming support for our fishermen and state as they fight this bunk lawsuit,” Representative Dan Ortiz (District 1 – Ketchikan).
“It is challenging to celebrate something as dire for my House District as what is being addressed by HJR 5, but I am excited the House Majority joined with the House Coalition in unanimously supporting this important resolution,” said Representative Rebecca Himschoot.