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Thread: Chitina Dipnetters & AF&WCF file lawsuit

  1. #1

    Default Chitina Dipnetters & AF&WCF file lawsuit

    The Chitina Dipnetters Association and the Alaska Outdoor Council’s sister organization, the Alaska Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund, on January 9, 2009 filed a complaint with the Fairbanks Superior Court challenging the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) recent decision to reject “subsistence” classification for the Chitina dipnet fishery.

    The complaint charges that the BOF classification of the Chitina dipnet fishery as a “personal use” fishery ignores the customary and traditional (C&T) use of salmon stocks by dipnetters in the Chitina subdistrict of the Copper River. This C&T use is documented dating back to the 1800s and convinced the 1999 BOF to designate the Chitina dipnet fishery as a subsistence fishery.

    In 2003 the BOF met in Cordova and classified the fishery as “personal use” reversing the 1999 BOF decision. The 2003 decision was based on a misleading report by ADF&G’s Subsistence Division. The 2003 BOF concluded that the fishery has been used primarily by urban residents since the 1950s and that since social and economic differences occur between them and the upriver users in the Glennallen subdistrict, the Chitina dipnet fishery no longer qualified for subsistence classification. This is inconsistent with the Alaska Constitution and the State Subsistence Priority Statute.

    The 2003 decision was challenged at both the 2005 and 2008 BOF meetings where the Boards refused to re-examine evidence for subsistence classification. Ironically, the 2008 BOF provided for subsistence harvest of all freshwater fish in the Chitina subdistrict, but not for salmon. The same salmon stocks designated personal use stocks while within the Chitina subdistrict (the Chitina dipnet fishery boundary) are designated subsistence stocks upriver and downriver.

    The filed complaint asks the Court to instruct the BOF to restore subsistence classification to the Chitina dipnet fishery. The Complaint also asks the Court to instruct the BOF to follow the Alaska Constitution and State Subsistence Statute rather than the outmoded “8 criteria” regulation used to evaluate a “customary and traditional use”. These 8 criteria were established in 1984 jointly by the Boards of Fisheries and Game at a time when a rural priority for subsistence still existed in the Alaska state subsistence law. That rural priority was removed from the law as a result of the McDowell v. State lawsuit.

    This case is about reaffirming one of our basic rights as Alaskans, the right to gather common owned resources for subsistence without regard to where we choose to live.

    Your contribution to our legal fund will help ensure a successful outcome to this lawsuit. Our lawsuit partners, the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, are able to accept tax deductible donations. Write your check out to them and send it to us. We will make sure the money is directed towards the lawsuit. If you do not need the tax deduction, write your check out to the CDA to support the lawsuit.

    Send To

    Chitina Dipnetters Association
    Byron Haley, President
    1002 Pioneer Road
    Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

    For further information regarding this case, please contact
    Rod Arno; executive director AFWCF ph. 907-376-2913, fax. 907-376-7197,
    Chuck Derrick; Chitina Dipnetters Assoc. board member ph. 907-488-3093
    Mike Kramer; attorney ph. 907-452-1666

  2. #2
    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Thumbs up Get out those checkbooks people!!!

    Shouldn't this be in fishery management? Moderator, is it possible to move this thread? My point is maybe this should be posted where it will be seen by as many people as possible. I don't know about the rest of you but I'm getting out my checkbook and getting the word out to all of my friends, via e-mail. This concerns all Alaskans and their right to harvest the bounty of the sea, no matter where they live. Come on folks, pass the word. If you want access, this is where you can make a difference!!!

  3. #3

    Default I was going to, but

    I started thinking about the discrimination and the Screw you if you ain't from the 907 attitude. Sorry, I can't buy into it. Reminds me of when Zobels filed suit over the PFD. If it weren't for them, we probably wouldn't have a PFD at all by now. I feel kind of bad eating all those fish I dipped out of the Kenai last year. Dipped 'em in an hour. I used to have a lot more fun catching them on a rod and reel. Once in a while a nice 'bow would take the fly. I didn't have to freakin' process 70 at one time. Looking at the Kasilof and the Kenai in a different light, now. I've seen the enemy, and it is us. I was shown a video taken from a house on the Kenai. People just climbing up on the bank, dropping their drawers, and crapping righ in front of this house. Not once, not twice, but about 10 groups in one day. Got me thinkin...No thanks. I used to smoke, too. Glad I quit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

    Default This is talking about CHITINA not Kenai

    This lawsuit is filed to protect the rights of the Chitina Subdistrict. Kenai is a whole other matter. Just thought you might want to know that... and in turn.. get your checkbook out.

  5. #5

    Default I'll wait and see...

    You are right FBH, I really don't know anything about the Chitina fishery and should probably keep my pie-hole shut. It just seems like there are a lot of similarities between the two fisheries. When all this controversy hit the fan, I did some reading and asked people who live in Kenai and Kasilof what they thought of these fisheries. Most of them feel like the bottom of a welcome mat. They showed me some video. Really, if an oil company did this to the environment, everyone would be up in arms calling for a head on a pike. The tragedy of the commons is readily apparent down on the Kenai. I am actually ashamed to have participated in the destruction - actually used a two-stroke motor, too (not last year). I think I'll go back to using my rod and reel and maybe see if I can buy a fish or two off the beach. Really. The circus that is going on right now is not sustainable. I don't want to be one of those who killed the road accessible rivers. I hope the Chitina is not like that.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

    Default Dont keep quiet!

    You shold not stay quiet! People like you are EXACTLY what this state needs. YOu (and me) letting people know it is not acceptable to trash OUR state is our responsibility.

    Chitina is an ENITRELY different ball game from Kenai/Kasilof. I encourage you to give it a whirl if you have not had the chance. It is something I look forward to every year.

    I learned to dipnet salmon from my father and cannot wait for a couple more years to pass to show my son the tricks too. THAT in essence is what the lawsuit is about, passing on the culture of subsisting off these salmon. It is UNACCEPTABLE to see our state constitution watered down to the point that big business, commercial fisherman can have their way.

    You pennies to the Copper River Dipnetters Assoc. mean a LOT. I encourage you to get involved and help protect this fishery!

  7. #7


    I went to the annual meeting last weekend and finally got informed on the whole situation. I made a donation to the cause and hope that we win this suit.

    One thing in the meeting I noticed was that I was probably the youngest one there. I think my dad sitting next to me was a close second. Lots of oldtimers there, but not a lot of new blood. I've been dipping in the Copper for about 18 years, and I'm 34 now. It is definately something that is tradition in our family. I hope to see more of the young folks start attending the meetings and getting involved.

    Hopefully the CDA is hitting up businesses as well for donations? I'd imagine some of the boat shops, outdoor stores and locally owned businesses might contribute to the cause.

    Thanks to all you guys are doing! We'll see you out there this summer.

  8. #8
    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Jerod, this is the sad part...

    Jerod, I started the south-central alaska dipnetters association about three years ago. We are indicative of the 21,500 households that dipnet from the Kasilof and Kenai area. Our membership is at @ 250 households. If you look at the numbers, what is wrong with this picture? It is not even 10% of the people that benifit from the fishery. If people don't stand up for themselves, how Can I do the same for those same people? I can't. Most people want other people to fight their cause. I try but can only do so much. Go to and see for yourself. Ken

  9. #9

    Default Kenai/Soldotna residents Hypocrites? I think so

    Well another year is upon us and like clockwork, more *****ing about the dipnetters coming from the Peninsula. Their complaint about habitat distructions is enough to make me puke. This coming from the same collective group that has over the last 30-50 years totally destroyed hundreds of miles of Kenai river bank by uncontrolled development; and by unrestricted guide business’s flooding hundreds of boats a day onto the river hell bent on catching every last large king in the river for the highest bidder. Where is the outrage about the above listed abuse? “O wait, dipnetter is talking about us, but its different don’t you know, after all we live here.” Now I’m supposed to listen and take seriously your complaints about the common folk’s access to “your fish” get real. All the “so called” complaints continuously regurgitated by “dipnet haters” are easily correctable problems, but by solving those problems, would eliminate the only weak argument they have at trying to keep the resource to themselves. I, unlike some among us will take the higher road, I’m outraged of all the abuses (by both peninsula & non-peninsula residents) and corrective actions need to be taken, here is my recommended list of corrective actions:

    1: Initiate immanent domain on all residents who own property along the river, require them to return the river bank to the same state it was in before they brought in the bulldozers.

    This action would reduce or nearly eliminate pollution and bank erosion. It would also return the river to a beautiful place again.

    2: Create a lottery system for current guides to apply, Hand out two dozen permits. Winners can continue guiding three days a week, eight hours a day on boats not to exceed 14 feet in length with a motor no larger 25HP.

    This action would also solve bank erosion, pollution, and overcrowding issues. It would also protect the most amazing strain of Chinook salmon found anywhere in the world from those only concerned with their pocket book and not the resource.

    3: Use newly acquired property along riverbank from action one to reduce dipnetting pressure from area currently used. Use collected fees to build/install adequate facilities to accommodate all users of this fabulous resource.

    As with the previous actions, this would also solve pollution and overcrowding issues.

    Dipnetters remain positive and engaged in this process, if not, the vocal minority may someday be successful in eliminating our rights.

    Big Dipper, two words for you, more porta-a-jons.

    Thewhop, I’m in, were do I sign.

  10. #10

    Default More porta johns

    Well, the Kenai Borough has been begging the state for more porta-johns for three administrations now. Guess what? No porta johns - just the same old crap.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default where's the $$$ going?

    So where is our money going from the megadollars that they're now charging us to walk on our own beach during dipnet season?

    I know one place it went was to buy that huge new spiffy fence for the landowner that recently bought the property closest to the public parking area for the south beach.

    I have sympathy for the local landowners that don't get treated well by dipnetters, but that doesn't mean we're all bad. We need to find a balance that accommodates both decently.


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