Wild Fish Conservancy Wants Endangered Species Act Protection For Alaska Chinook

It’s safe to say the Wild Fish Conservancy isn’t on many Alaska fishers’ Christmas Card lists. With the Southeast Alaska king salmon troll fishery shut down due to the Wild Fish Conservancy lawsuit, the Washington-based conservation organization reached out to Alaska Department of Fish and Game and asked about the state implementing Endangered Species Act protections for some of the struggling Chinook stocks. Here’s more on the request from the Alaska Beacon:

If successful, experts said the proposal could have dramatic impacts, like the closure of commercial harvests of kings, new limits on other fisheries that accidentally catch them and restrictions on development.

While crashing king stocks across the state have already prompted closures of and strict limits on commercial and subsistence harvests, populations are still not facing a serious risk of extinction, Doug Vincent-Lang, Alaska’s fish and game commissioner, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“We think that none of these stocks are threatened with extinction today or threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future, so we’re going to work to oppose this,” Vincent-Lang said. “This has a real impact coming our way, if it’s granted.”

The conservancy has not yet filed its petition; it sent a letter to Vincent-Lang in May saying it would file one within 30 days.

Here’s the text of the short Wild Fish Conservancy letter to ADFG:

Dear Commissioner Vincent-Lang: Pursuant to 50 C.F.R. § 424.14(b), we hereby provide notice that Wild Fish Conservancy intends to file a petition under the federal Endangered Species Act to list and designate critical habitat for Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in Southern Alaska, including Southeast and Southwest Alaska and Cook Inlet, no sooner than 30 days from the date that this notice is provided.

We understand this 30-day notice may no longer be legally required under the Endangered Species Act but we are submitting as a courtesy as it is our intent to maintain open communication with the state of Alaska through this petition process about our concerns over the health of Alaska Chinook populations.