Cook Inlet Fishermen Sue Over Salmon Closures

From the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Cook Inlet fishermen are pursuing more legal action over salmon fishing closures in those waters. Here’s more from the Journal:

The first complaint, filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of three fishermen—Wes Humbyrd, Robert Wolfe and Dan Anderson—argues that the actions of the council aren’t valid because of the standing of the council members. Michael Poon, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said the case is similar to another one that the organization handled for California-based fishermen against the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Council members can make management decisions on federal fisheries by directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to take action. The fishermen’s complaint argues that this makes them officers of the United States, and therefore falling under the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution. That clause says they should be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, as are other federal officials. That’s not the process with the council members, some of whom hold their seats because of their office, and some of whom are state representatives chosen by governors. On top of that, the council members “enjoy extraordinarily strong protections against removal” the complaint states.

“These arguments show the sort of accountability deficit of these council structures,” Poon said. “It’s the broader problem that affects the councils nationwide.”