JUNEAU – The Alaska House Coalition today released the following statement in response to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jones adopting the magistrate judge’s report and recommendations, effectively shutting down the winter and summer chinook troll fisheries in Southeast Alaska:
The Southeast Alaska troll fishery is an important part of Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, generating approximately $85 million in annual economic impact and providing income for approximately 1,450 fishermen and their families. The fishery is also an important cultural and social tradition in Southeast Alaska, with nearly all of the 33 communities in the region home to resident permit holders and crew members.
“The decision to shut down the troll fishery based on a flawed biological opinion sets a dangerous precedent for managing fisheries by lawsuit rather than sound science,” said Representative Rebecca Himschoot (NA-Sitka). “The impact of the closure of the troll fishery will be felt not only by the fishermen and their families but also by the many small businesses and communities that depend on the industry.”
“We are deeply disappointed in the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jones, which has the potential to devastate the Southeast Alaska troll fishery and the communities that depend on it,” said Minority Whip Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). “The troll fishery is a vital part of our state’s economy, and its closure would have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the thousands of Alaskans who depend on it. If allowed to stand, this could be the beginning of the end for commercial fisheries as we know it in Alaska.”
“The science is clear that the threats to the orca population in question are centered hundreds of miles south of Alaska’s troll fisheries,” said Representative Sara Hannan (D-Juneau). “The district judge’s order is utterly misguided and will have devastating consequences for one of the most conscientious fishing fleets on the Pacific.”
“It is astonishing that an outside group can disrupt the livelihoods of Alaskans,” said Representative Dan Ortiz (NA-Ketchikan). “Alaska, as a state, has a right to make its own decisions about its resources.”
“I’m pleased that the Dunleavy administration is taking immediate steps to appeal this ruling in an attempt to salvage this year’s summer salmon fishery,” said Representative Andi Story (D-Juneau). “I’ll be working with my colleagues to determine what other actions we can take to protect Alaskans who rely on this fishery.”
The Alaska House Coalition will continue to work with the State of Alaska, the Alaska Trollers Association, and other stakeholders to support the Southeast Alaska troll fishery and defend the industry against this harmful decision.