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Thread: Lawsuit filed by the chitina dipnetters assoc. & aoc

  1. #1

    Default Lawsuit filed by the chitina dipnetters assoc. & aoc

    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

    FULL COMPLAINT DOCUMENT ATTACHED (if I don't get this attached see it in the dipnetting forum under thread "filed complaint")

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default This should be moved...

    To the Fisheries Manegment thread...

  3. #3
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River/ Juneau


    Wow, just wow.

    Seriously what the heck is the point of this? Other than to waste a ton of money and time, subsistence limits are the same above and below the PU fishery, and everybody is perfectly welcome to fish the subsistence fishery who fishes the PU fishery, the only difference is that in that area a majority of the people in the PU fishery are urban folks who's families moved to the state within the last decade or two. I'm also sure that 10% of the run (~100,000 fish, also about the PU catch if I remember correctly) was also of hatchery origin in traditional times. I don't know how misleading that report was but I'm pretty sure folks put their name and address on the permits, if subsistence div. couldn't figure out statistics on how many folks were urban and how many rural they should probably scrap the whole department.

    This is just another powergrab by the anti commercial fishing folks in this state intent slowly destroying the industry. Its amazing, one of the best fisheries in the state and very little conflict between P/U users and commercial guys and these folks just can't leave well enough alone. There are plenty of salmon in that river for everyone.

    I really hope AOC wins and the end of the lawsuit is immediately followed by a constitutional ammendment reaffirming rural preference in subsistence fisheries, guess how long it'd take AOC to file a lawsuit claiming that chitna was really a PU fishery all along?

    Amazing... Just Amazing.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  4. #4

    Default A Little History

    In response to Alaska Powder Monkey, there is no rural urban clause in the state subsistence statute. Again, subsistence is based on the customary and traditional use of the resource not the user. The use is dipnetting of salmon.
    The Chitina dipnet fishery (Cdf) from territorial days to statehood and until 1984 was always managed as a subsistence fishery and since has bounced back and forth between that and personal use designation on the whim of the Board of Fisheries (BOF). Shortly after the first state subsistence law in 1978, the BOF, heavily weighted in commercial fisheries representation, ordered all subsistence fish wheels out of the then Chitina Subdistrict and forced them to fish above the McCarthy bridge for unspecified biological reasons, beginning the move to try eliminate subsistence uses in the Chitina subdistrict. In truth the commercial fish industry did not want the by then almost 4,000 dipnetters in the Chitina dipnet fishery to have priority over them. This began the march to move the dipnet fishery into personal use ignoring the history of customary and traditional use of the resource in the Chitina subdistrict.
    Since the 1979 BOF directive the dipnet fishery has seen a steady reduction in bag limit. When I started dipnetting in the Cdf, the bag limit was 20 for an individual and 40for a household of 2 or more of which 5 could be kings and by mid season you could take 10 extra sockeyes for each additional household member. The limits now are 15individual and 30 for hshld. of 2 or more of which only 1 can be a king. 10 additional sockeye are allowed if a supplemental period exists.
    In comparison, the bag limit for subsistence dipnetters in the Glennallen subdistrict (Gs) is 30 indiv. 60 for hshld. 2 or more and 10 extra salmon for each additional hshld. member. No more than 5 can be kings. An individual can request an additional permit to harvest up to 200 salmon and a hshld. of 2 or more 500 salmon. Fishwheels in the Gs. have the same limits with unlimited kings.
    Subsistence fishers in the Copper River subdistrict are allowed 15 for indiv. 30 for hshld. 2 or more and 10 for each additional hshld. member. With a 5 king limit. Also commercial fishermen from Cordova, who also qualify for a subsistence bag limit, can take home unlimited salmon from their commercial catch. This is referred to as home pack.
    This summer with the low run of early salmon a discreet regulation was triggered. If the commercial fishermen at the mouth of the Copper are shut down for 13 consecutive days or more, the harvest allocation for the Chitina dipnet fishery drops to 50,000 fish reduced over half from our 120,000 salmon allocation. This happened in 2008. The subsistence fisheries upriver and down river of the ”personal use” Chitina dipnet fishery took no allocation hit!
    Repeated proposals before the BOF to raise our king limit to at least 2 has been denied on the grounds that kings are already fully allocated in the Copper River. The only reason why they are fully allocated is because you have fish wheels with a harvest of up to 500 kings and commercial harvesting unlimited kings within an opening time period.
    I fear for the Chitina dipnet fishery if it stays classified as a Personal Use Fishery.
    Yes all is just hunky dory on the Copper. NOT!

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    ... guess how long it'd take AOC to file a lawsuit claiming that chitna was really a PU fishery all along?
    monkey nailed it!

  6. #6

    Default Hmmm

    What if the AOC wins in State court, and that win is evidence in the federal court case? Isn't it possible that PU and AK subsistence could just go away? AOC should dismiss this suit ASAP - besides, as pointed out, Chitna dippers can subsist in the upriver area.... this is begining to look like a circular firing squad here.

    A likely outcome will be that federal subsistence will have priority over everyone, then commercial and rod and reel fishermen will get the rest. PU and state subsistence could very well be going the way of federal subsistence management on federal land on all salmon waters of the state.


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