JUNEAU – Today, on a unanimous vote, the Senate 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.
The suit seeks to stop the Southeast troll fishery over what Wild Fish Conservancy 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 king salmon during the winter and summer troll seasons of the Southeast Alaska troll fishery. This closure would be devastating for the troll fleet and have a significant economic impact on the region.
“Fishing in Southeast Alaska not only provides thousands of jobs, but it’s also a way of life throughout the region. Having the largest fleet of trollers in Southeast brings in business opportunities and extensive economic activity for these small communities,” said Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), who carried HJR5 in the Senate. “If our resources begin to be managed through lawsuits, we will lose the lifeblood of our communities. Alaskans know best how to manage our resources, and we’re fighting to ensure it stays that way.”
“I am pleased we were able to act quickly to pass this resolution,” said Minority Leader Calvin Schrage (NP-Anchorage). “I hope this serves as an important reminder that the Legislature has no interest in allowing outside groups to stand in the way of hard-working Alaskans.”
Trolling is a low barrier, sustainable fishery where fishermen from nearly all 33 communities in Southeast Alaska catch each fish with hook and line. State residents hold 85% of the permits. There are approximately 1450 trollers contributing over $85 million to the economies of coastal Alaska.
“This would be devastating for the troll fleet and have a significant economic impact on the region,” said Tim O’Connor, Mayor of Craig and Commercial Troller.
“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.” said Amy Daugherty, Executive Director of the Alaska Trollers Association. “I am shocked an outside group thinks it makes sense to manage a fishery, with over a hundred-year history, by lawsuit rather than sound science.”
“The resolution’s overwhelming bipartisan support shows the Wild Fish Conservancy that the State of Alaska is committed to continue defending the fishery. I hope the Wild Fish Conservancy reconsiders pursuing this misguided lawsuit and instead starts addressing the factors impacting the Southern Resident Killer Whales in their own back yard.” said Representative Rebecca Himschoot.