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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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")