Sen. Murkowski On Conservation Group’s Attempt To Designate Alaska Chinook As Endangered

As the Washington state-based conservation group Wild Fish Conservancy has made a legal claim to designate Alaska king salmon as Endangered, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R) has weighed in on the issue, dismissing Wild Fish Conservancy’s agenda, which Murkowski says would greatly impact her state’s fisheries.

Here’s more from KCAW News in Sitka via Alaska Public Media:

“They are attempting to utilize a very legitimate law, the Endangered Species Act, for what I would consider to be a very wrongheaded purpose,” Murkowski said by phone. “And that is to basically stop our wild fisheries.”

Murkowski says Alaska’s fisheries are under threat from several sources, including environmental pressure from climate change and warming oceans, and economic pressure from Russia’s oversupply of traditional seafood markets. And there’s also ongoing litigation by the Wild Fish Conservancy itself, which sued NOAA Fisheries in 2020 to shut down the commercial troll fishery for kings in Southeast Alaska.

That tactic has yet to succeed, so Murkowski is not surprised that the Wild Fish Conservancy is trying another.

“If you’re looking to shut down a fishery, a threat by way of a petition with the ESA is certainly a direction to do that,” she said with a hint of sarcasm. “I think we need to make sure that we are well armed with our own science and data about our fisheries. But that takes monitoring, which is time, and it takes resources. And that’s one of the things that I’ve been doing at the federal level, to help address the challenges that our fisheries are facing in our fishing communities.”