Alaska closes down large chunk of waters to commercial salmon fishing

editorial staff

Fisheries council North Pacific Fishery Management Council closes federal waters starting 3 miles offshore in Cook Inlet.

Anchorage Daily News reports that an area – vital to Alaska’s salmon industry – has been closed off to fishermen as Cook Inlet moves from federal to state-managed waters.

The decision comes after two groups representing commercial fishermen in 2013 sued to challenge the state’s decades management of the waters. This leading the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to mandate a federal takeover in the federal waters by the end of this year.

Most salmon fishermen favoured an option to allow state management with federal oversight and review. But another decision saw the Senator Dunleavy administration close Cook Inlet EEZ to commercial salmon fishing. The inlet driftnet fleet, consisting of more than 500 permit-holders, land their entire salmon catch in the federal waters.

MAP: NOAASalmon fishermen can continue to fish in state waters within three miles of the shore but many say they will struggle as commercial setnets extend up to 1.5 miles off the beach.

Tim Dillon, president of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District told the publication that it would have devastating consequences. “It’s really a shock. It’s a big, big deal.”

He said the commercial driftnet fishery employs more than 10,000 people and is worth tens of millions of dollars each year as the catch supports fishermen and salmon processors.