Fishers Respond To Federal Appeals Court’s Southeast Alaska Trolling Season Decision (Update)

As a federal appeals court ruled that the Southeast Alaska king salmon trolling season can now open on July 1 amid a lawsuit that shut it down, reaction is coming in. Here’s the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association:

Alaska’s fishermen and communities celebrate court’s decision to allow Southeast Alaska’s Chinook troll fishery to open on July 1st

Sitka, AK – Southeast Alaska’s fishermen and communities welcomed the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals’ decision on June 21st to keep Southeast Alaska’s Chinook troll fishery open while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) addresses a technicality in its 2019 Biological Opinion for Southeast Alaska’s salmon fisheries. In its order, the federal appeals panel shared that there was ample evidence submitted showing that the impacts of shutting down the Alaska salmon fishing industry would “outweigh the speculative environmental threats” of keeping the fishery open.

“The court’s decision is a huge relief for hundreds of small-boat fishing families that rely on this fishery for their income,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “We are relieved that the court followed the well-documented science establishing that Southeast Alaska’s troll fishery is not a threat to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population and that shutting down the fishery would do more harm than good.”

“We are deeply grateful for the countless hours and hard work that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Alaska Trollers Association have put into defending our fishery from Wild Fish Conservancy’s reckless lawsuit,” said Jeff Farvour, commercial fisherman and board member for both the Alaska Trollers Association and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Thanks to them and the tremendous support from Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, State Legislature, Southeast Alaska tribes, communities, and conservation groups we can go fishing this summer.”

“The outpouring of support for Alaska’s salmon troll fishery through this ordeal has been heartening,” added Behnken. “Alaska definitely had our back. We have more work ahead to successfully conclude this lawsuit and to restore Washington’s salmon habitat, but today we are celebrating–and getting ready to go fishing!” 

Update: Alaska U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan weighed in on social media: