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Thread: kookesh and subsistence

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    Default kookesh and subsistence

    State Senator Albert Kookesh gets off from over fishing a subsistence fishery (http://krbd.org/modules/local_news/i...d=true&ID=1370) but I'm not sure what it all means, are all subsistence bag limits too low if you eat the meat or plan on giving to others and need more than the state allows?

    I've fished red salmon by net under subsistence regs and tried to stay under the family limits, I've also hunted under subsistence regs and stayed under the limits. Do I really have to? Not sure what the state is going to do with this one.

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    A politition breaking the law....whats new?

    Interesting, nontheleast...though I dont know where its going or what good its gonna do, but the state not doing what its mandated itself to do and prosacuting people for brakeing their broken laws........sounds kinda like a "Fish N Game" to me....
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    Just want to say its not a "fish and game thing" but a judge thing, sitka judge david george. He says fish and game dept adopted the 15 sockeye limit without the required public comment period which is required by state laws, hence its not a a enforcable law until the process is completed to accordance. but yeah no surpise that a politician could or would use a loophole clause, if this were anyone else like any of us we would be paying tickets. and by no means does this mean everyone should put this to the test but you kinda wonder where this is going would it work for us? heck the court date wasnt till next week...

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    Oh,ya,I see that.......I was just a play'n on words.....Fish n game.... as in a stupid 'game' that the senator has played rather than going about it the leagal way ,when I feel he should be using his office to change things from within.........insted of "playing Politition " (commiting the crime) ~~LOL!!~~ He should be The Politition and get it fixxed if 15 aint enough, and theres no shortage.....
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    Stranger, I'm not sure you actually want senators setting bag limits.

    I think what most of us really want is for Fish & Game to follow the rules and talk to the public when they set the limits.

    Then we want everyone to follow them.

    I'm not commenting about the bigger issues, here. Just saying if we had our elected officials deciding by majority vote on how many fish per day, we'd be in a lot of trouble.

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    The BOF and BOG have both been caught with their pants down on making unlawful laws/regulations, without going through the Public Process. This judge and the judge that weighed in when the BOG tried to say that one Caribou every four years was adequate to meet the needs of the citizens, both should be commended for applying the Law, as it is written. Shame on the Boards for attempting to circumvent the process, for their own ill and selfish ways. Let's lay the Blame where it belongs.
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    This particular quote bothers me:
    "I’m excited to have a judge agree with us that the bag limits were unjust and unfair. I’m excited to get this behind me because so many people in the state who felt that it was the right thing to do to challenge this. I’m also excited for the fact that it helps clarify the subsistence picture in Alaska," [Kookesh] says.

    The way I see it, the judge didn't agree on any such thing, the judge only said that the administrative procedures act was not followed correctly when the subsistence limits were set.

    This also bothers me:
    "We challenged what we thought was unfair bag limits on the subsistence-use fishery in Angoon. They said that you can only get 15 fish per family per year and a couple miles away you had commercial seine boats getting thousands of fish a day," he says.

    How is this any different than the continual arguments we hear that pit the commercial fishing industry against the sport or personal use fishers? It seems Kookesh is just making things worse with this kind of argument.

    This whole thing has troubled me from day one. At first Kookesh argued that Alaska troopers could not or should not enforce laws on fed lands. I wrote his office describing how that works here, never did get a reply. And explained the vital importance of having state Troopers being able to enforce wildlife laws on BLM and other fed lands.

    Anyway...I too think the public process the BOF goes through should be followed, and if the administrative procedures act wasn't followed, well it should have been. But just the way this has been spun from the get-go, and some of the quotes I have heard now, not very happy.

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    Akres, what are you talking about?

    ADFG worked directly with village leaders to conservatively manage the small creek where escapements had been scarce, and to set the 15 fish limit. In fact the village itself previouisly issued a volunteer closure of the area to protect the run, and they concented to the BOF's 15 fish limit. Federal resource managers also supported the 15 fish limit. The BOF is dictated by law to manage this subsistence fishery for sustainability, not for what Kookesh himself wants. If that were the case, there would be nothing left. I don't know how you can claim the BOF acted "selfish", when clearly their concern was for the health of the run. It was Kookesh who illegally strung a net across the mouth of the small creek and netted nearly half of what would be the escapement in recent years.
    l
    Clearly Kookesh was caught red-handed breaking the law. It was Kookesh who circumvented the process, and who acted on his own "ill and selfish ways". He has simply used his money, power, political position, and a liberal court system to find a loophole getting him off. Kookesh has plenty of fish under the same subsistence laws and limits that all other subsistence users have no trouble following. They aren't breaking the law. In fact in the article referenced above, it even says Kookesh fished other areas with larger limits. Kookesh bashes the commercial fishery, yet had no trouble taking campaign contributions from that same fishery. His income is $217,000. He sits on the Board of one of the Native corporations that received 44 million acres of Alaska land and $1 Billion cash in exchange for forever relinquishing special hunting and fishing rights. Kookesh condems the same State government he was elected to serve, and breaks the same laws he was sworn to uphold.

    When Kookesh blatently broke the law, he couldn't have known how the court would rule, or that he could successfully pursue a loophole with the Administrative Procedure Act. He never mentioned, filed suit, or made proposals regarding a problem with the 15 fish limit or the Administrative Procedure Act...instead he just broke the law, thinking he wouldn't get caught. That's why he origianlly lied to officers. He looked for a scapegoat only when he was caught. He did not represent his village or other subsistence fishermen. He represented himself.

    Akres, I'm tired of folks like you trying to put the blame on others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

    Kookesh is a criminal in my mind. Not just because he breaks the law, but because he is a hypocrite who undermines the very system that provides for him in the first place. As a life-long Alaskan who has subsistence fished, he offends me. And he should offend every Alaskan who works to harvest food under the confines of our laws, and who works to change our laws when necessary rather than just break them and then look to loopholes and scapegoats when caught.

    All Alaskans should encourage the State to appeal this ridiculous decision. If there is an issue with a subsistence limit on some small creek in Angoon, then lets address that for what it is, the way we should. If we set of precedence of challenging laws by first breaking them, we are in a world of hurt. Akres, the "shame" is on Kookesh, Judge David George, and you.

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    One point on why the State will not appeal. They can fix this at the next BOF meeting and it becomes a non-issue. At that point if Kookesh breaks the law again (he did break the law - make no bones about that) he will be found guilty. Unfortunately, the BOF and BOG has been very free wheeling with the Administrative Procedure Act and other state and federal laws and regulations. This happens in a system that makes it hard to challenge the Boards. When the legislature passed the limits on compensation for suing and made it so fees could not be recovered if one won against the State it reduced the number of challenges. In fact, State attorneys told people if you do not like the regulations you can sue - knowing that the average citizen cannot afford it. So few cases are filed and the Boards have a free hand to do what they want. In this case they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I am not mad at Kookesh - he is a crook but a smart one - I am pissed at the BOF for not playing by the civil rules of our society. The BOG is even worse in my opinion.

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    Whether Kookesh knew about the adminastrative loophole is besides the point. He wantingly broke the law and should be setting an example as a state representative. He did not and I believe the state Legislature needs to censure him or something.
    Just because a judge gave him an out which he didn't even know about is no excuse. Unlike Nerka, I am holding him responsible for his own actions, not the BOF or the courts. His original contention was that the state did or should not have authority on Native or federal land. Then a judge finds an adminastrative loophole through a good lawyer. Go figure. Kookesh = bad example and the sad part he will be re-elected by his fellow law breakers.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Should senator kookesh be a leader in the subsistence debate?


    Since troopers caught him red handed with twice his legal limit of salmon, Senator Albert Kookesh of Angoon, has 1) abused his position as an elected state official by unfairly denouncing the State of Alaska, 2) openly disparaged the very laws we trust him to make binding upon us, and 3) unnecessarily and selfishly widened the racial divide between natives and non-natives over hunting and fishing rights.

    If one only listens to Senator Kookesh’s own selfish rhetoric and the sound bites flowing from the AFN convention in Anchorage, it might seem as if Mr. Kookesh was a hapless victim of inept State Fisheries management. A pure subsistence user who cannot possibly obey the law and feed his family at the same time.

    Through misleading public speeches and press releases, Mr. Kookesh brings dishonor to his public office and to the thousands of subsistence users statewide who manage to feed their families while also respecting the law.

    Every summer throughout all corners of our state, tens of thousands of Alaskans harvest salmon to feed their families. Under our State Constitution, still the highest law in our land, and the document Mr. Kookesh has pledged to uphold and support as a State Senator, all Alaskans are entitled to equal access to these publicly owned salmon.

    The Alaska Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Article 8, sections 3, 15 and 17, of our constitution expressly prohibit granting a harvest preference to any group or individual Alaskan based on their race or place of residence.

    Various attempts to define subsistence users by place of residence have been repeatedly rejected by the courts. Other attempts to place income caps on eligible subsistence users have been opposed by native leaders who correctly recognize that no amount of personal wealth can replace the emotional, physical, and cultural significance of harvesting ones own food.

    In his 2009 APOC financial declaration, Mr. Kookesh lists his family income at $216,738. Some of that income comes from a sport fishing lodge he owns and $75,000 comes from his board position on the Sealaska Regional Corporation. Sealaska is one of the 12 regional Native corporations created in 1971 by ANSCA. The corporations were granted 44 million acres of land and almost 1 billion dollars in cash in exchange for forever relinquishing claims to special aboriginal hunting and fishing rights. Until Mr. Kookesh is willing to relinquish the cash and land, and dissolve the ANSCA created corporation that has benefited him so much over the years, he cannot claim any superior right to harvest fish. A deal is a deal.

    Mr. Kookesh, in his broad reaching PR campaign, has made the observation that he doesn’t expect to win his criminal case, but rather is using the case to pursue an agenda designed to force the federal government to take over subsistence management throughout Alaska. He has also argued that the State advisory member on the federal subsistence board should be removed and a memorandum of understanding between State and federal subsistence managers be invalidated.

    The Senator holds a law degree, and he appears to have correctly anticipated a guilty verdict. Here are the facts of the case as presented in the charging documents filed with the District Court in Angoon in Case number 1AG-09 -33CR:

    Mr. Kookesh and three others were spotted by a state trooper fishing Kookesh’s large net in Alaskan owned waters near the mouth of a creek. When contacted by the trooper, Kookesh stated that his group had only collectively harvested 60-70 salmon and were within their collective bag limit. The trooper counted 148 dead fish on the beach. When asked for their subsistence permits, the four men present on the beach produced five permits. Two of these permits were in the name of Senator Kookesh’s son and brother, neither of whom were present on the beach and neither of whom had prepared the necessary paperwork, for Senator Kookesh to legally fish their permits.

    Kookesh told the trooper that he believed it was legal to be fishing with his brother’s permit, but the ADFG employee who issued the permits told the trooper that he, in fact, called Kookesh’s home specifically to advise him that he could not fish with his brother’s permit.

    While the trooper was counting fish and checking permits, another Angoon resident appeared on the beach and was recruited by the four fishers to display his permit for the purpose of legitimizing an additional fifteen fish from the 148 harvested.

    According to the area biologist, the small creek Kookesh was netting has a very small number of salmon that can sustainably be harvested. In 2002 the village of Angoon implemented a voluntary closure of the bay (Kanalku) surrounding the creek to protect the endangered salmon run. The result of this closure was that spawning escapement rose from 229 fish in 2001 to 1,630 fish in 2002. Angoon residents began fishing again, and in 2003 the escapement dipped again to 276 fish. In 2004-05, a voluntary closure again was implemented, but because some villagers continued to fish, it was decided that the fishery should be reopened but actively and conservatively managed by ADFG. As part of this conservative management program created by ADFG and village leaders, the subsistence limit was set at 15 fish per permit with regulations in place allowing permits to be issued for proxy fishing and for the senior home. In 2008, 32 permits harvested a total of 553 fish, and in 2008, 10 permits harvested 155 fish.

    In one morning, Mr. Kookesh and his three friends harvested what would have been more than ½ of the total salmon escapement in recent years. If the Senator has any respect for the resource, why isn’t he publicly discussing the biological escapement concerns of the Kanalku subsistence fishery? Why should he be exempt from a reasonable limit placed on a threatened population, a limit imposed with the advice and consent of the village of Angoon? There are many other subsistence fisheries in the Angoon area. Other areas with healthier stocks of fish, where Mr. Kookesh could have fulfilled all his subsistence needs without violating the law.

    His call for a federal takeover of Alaska’s fish is ill conceived in light of the fact that federal resource managers have already agreed the 15 fish per permit is biologically necessary for protection of the fragile fish population he was harvesting. Most Alaskans who rely on salmon to feed their families agree there would be more than enough salmon for all consumptive users if reasonable restrictions were placed on the commercial fisheries that annually harvest and sell the vast majority of our fish. Senator Kookesh has accepted campaign contributions from the commercial fish industry. If he was truly interested in ensuring all Alaskans, native or non-native, rural or urban, had enough fish to feed their families, he would be focusing his attack on the commercial fish industry, and not the State Fisheries’ managers.

    Of course, Mr. Kookesh must be afforded the presumption of innocence, yet his own admissions taken with the information outlined in the charging documents, paint the picture of a public official who got caught in a red handed violation of law, misrepresented the number of fish actually taken to avoid his citation, bent the rules as much as possible, in an attempt to justify activities he knew (or as a lawmaker, should have known) to be illegal, and then, only after he got caught, turns his personal poaching incident into a cause célèbre for Native subsistence rights.

    This should offend the sensibilities of all Alaskans who harvest their food within the confines of the law, and who work to change the laws they don’t agree with, rather than break those laws and then when caught, condemn the State government and its biologically based harvest restrictions. A government to which Kookesh was elected to serve and laws which he has sworn to uphold.

    Compared to Senator Kookesh, the subsistence fishermen from the Yukon River village of Marshall who openly defied biologically driven harvest restrictions on the Yukon this summer, are most honorable. They waited until no federal or State law enforcement official was watching, harvested salmon illegally under both federal and State law, distributed the fish, and then announced their protest fishery.

    The poaching incident in Angoon this summer is not unlike the slaughter of 120 caribou by eight Point Hope residents last spring. The perpetrators, in both cases, openly ignored the law, harvested much more than any law allowed, got caught, then claimed their aboriginal based subsistence rights were being violated.

    All subsistence advocates, rural or urban, should openly and without reservation condemn such actions. Instead, the North Slope Borough government has hired private lawyers for the accused caribou poachers and AFN is rallying behind Senator Kookesh’s call to abandon State management of its own resources. The Native American Rights Fund is offering free legal advice to Kookesh.

    Alaskans from all races and zip codes, when looking for answers to our subsistence issues, should not look to the young men from Point Hope who indiscriminately slaughtered dozens of caribou cows and calves leaving them to rot on the tundra, because among other excuses, their four wheelers were already too loaded with eggs they had collected from murre nests. They should also not look to a State Senator with a law degree who is employed by a corporation that was formed and funded in exchange for extinguishing forever, all claims of special native hunting or fishing rights.

    Mr. Kookesh has received enormous personal and professional benefits from the State of Alaska. It is the epitome of hypocrisy for him to exceed biologically necessary harvest limits, and then turn his apparent lack of respect for State law into a public call for federal management of our commonly owned resources.

    Pay your fine Senator, remember your oath of office, and work constructively within the established local advisory committee and Board of Fisheries’ process to change fishing regulations you do not agree with.


    Michael Kramer is a Fairbanks lawyer, subsistence advocate and member of the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee. The views expressed above are his own.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Default wtg, whop

    Great post whop (+1). Would it have killed him to admit to having made an error in judgment (or at a minimum at understanding the regs) and just said "I'm sorry"?

    One of the true tests of a man is decided by their conduct AFTER they make a mistake. I think he fails this integrity test, possibly a few times over.

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    It has been said that you can maybe read a man, but not what is in his heart. I can only imagine what Kookesh really thinks about all of this? If it was me, I would be saying I'm sorry till the cows come home... and I don't even own any cows, go figure?????
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    I fail to see how the Adminstrative Procedure Act was violated, especially for Kookesh. Dave Harris of ADFG had met with the subsistence community of Angoon and they came to a voluntary agreement not to fish the creek due to poor escapements. So Kookesh, and the entire community, had public input. In fact they reached an agreement. As a result, ADFG even expanded subsistence opportunities in other areas to prevent hardship. Some, like Kookesh, ignored his community's voluntary closure, and continued to fish poor runs, even when there were just a few hundred fish escaping. So ADFG stepped in with a 15 fish limit. The Feds supported, and authorized, that limit. For almost 4 years Kookesh had the opportunity to submit proposals, provide public comment, meet with BOF, and work to revise his community's agreement. He did not do that. He chose to break the law.

    In my opinion ADFG did exactly what they were supposed to...meet and work with this subsistence community to sustain the run. ADFG went from a voluntary closure to setting a limit to preserve the run. The Feds blessed it. Funny how much public comment Kookesh mustered up once he got caught, and how little he mustered up for the 4 years prior.

    If Kookesh's case is that public comment was denied, then the expanded subsistence opportunities ADFG implemented to compensate for the 15 fish limit would be invalid as well. Therefore Kookesh should be cited for fishing them, since they were never legitimate due to the same violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. What's fair is fair.

  15. #15

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    Grampy,
    Go take the Bar Exam or attend the Trooper Academy and then come back and tell us what should be done. Until then, I suggest we all listen carefully to the guy in the black robe. Something tells me, he is credible. The "shame" rests......where it should.
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    Whop I said he broke the law but the reason he is not guilty is plain and simple - the law was not valid. Relative to reducing bag limits ADF&G does not have that authority unless given to them by the BOF, especially for subsistence with the priority. So the judge saw that and ruled the law invalid. You may not like protest fisheries or a crook using administrative procedures to get off but the fact is that is how we maintain a civil society and not one of government doing anything they want to citizens. In this case I do not like the statements he made and felt that he is not a good example of what we should strive for but also the BOF and ADF&G was not a good example of what we should strive for either.

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    I know Akres...It's always somebody else's fault. File enough motions and you'll eventually find a scapegoat.

    The credibility of the judge isn't the issue. His interpretation and decision is. And I suspect if this issue is appealed and the facts presented agressively by the State, Kookesh will lose.

    First, due to declining stocks, Kookesh's tribal community issue their own voluntary closure of that area. So I fail to see how ADFG settng a harvest limit of 15 fish was any restriction on Kookesh...That is moot...his own community had already closed the fishery. When Kookesh broke the law, he also broke an agreement between the community of Angoon and ADFG.

    Second, Kookesh's community of Angoon met with ADFG and provided input. So the idea that he did not have public input is not true.

    Third, prior to Kookesh breaking the law, the record shows that the BOF encouraged all subsistence communities to submit proposals regarding their fisheries. So, like everyone, Kookesh and the community of Angoon had ample opportunity to submit any public input concerning their subsistence limit for that area. In fact proposal 236 by Kootznoowoo Inc. did just that.

    Forth, ADFG provided the BOF with C&T findings (Customary and Traditional use findings) and ANS findings (Amount Reasonably Necessary for Subsistence findings) regarding subsistence limits for Angoon. So the limits were not set without the knowledge and authority of the BOF, or Federal managers.

    Fifth, Kookesh sits on the Federal Regional Subsistence Advisory Board. Believe it or not, his responsibility is to inform the Federal Subsistence Board on subsistence management regulations, and serve as a public avenue for involvement in subsistence issues. So if there was an issue with the Administrative Procedure Act, or ADFG setting a 15 fish limit, Kookesh had every responsibility, and opportunity, to inform the Federal Subsistence Board, and the public. In fact he was in the prime position to do just that.

    Sixth, Kookesh signed his subsistence permit, which clearly indicates he acknowledged and recognized that he was bound by the permit's subsistence regulations. If he knew the 15 fish limit was not enforceable, then he would've told the arresting officer that, instead of lying.

    Finally, at the time Kookesh broke the law, he could not have known that his motion to dismiss the case based on the Administrative Procedure Act would've been upheld. And it is not unreasonable that the 15 fish limit would've been regulation regardless of how the Administrative Procedure Act was followed, especially since that limit was based on biological sustainability and study of the stock.

    Yep Akres, shame on everyone but Kookesh.

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    This is one of the times I completely agree with Grampyfishes. Kookesh took his risk and got caught. Only then did he scream some other excuse. Shame on him and shame on trying to use the race card.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Does this mean that it is my right to go out and kill any limit of any species that ADFG did not properly abide by the public comment procedure in establishing bag limits for that fishery/hunt? Give me a break. There's a great creek by my house where they just changed the bag limit, I'm going to go set a gillnet across because they didn't give me an opportunity to comment.

    I would rather see ADFG's resources spent on actually managing our fish and game than navigating a bureaucratic system that works to prevent them from protecting our resources from poachers like Kookesh. He's just a poacher with a good lawyer.

    He knew he was poaching from a creek with historically diminished runs of sockeye, and he tried to turn this into a native rights/subsistence issue. Those familiar with the case know that he had already tried multiple ways to wiggle out of these charges (i.e. arguing the State didn't have jurisdiction over federal lands, etc.), before finding this gem of a loophole.

    He should have just apologized and requested a larger bag limit for the residents of Angoon, if the creek could support it. This is a big win for the creek robbers, and a sad story for the future of Angoon's subsistence culture.

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    He just proved that crime does pay. He should have gone through the proper channels instead of breaking the law. Heck, he could have called the media out there to film him as he fished in protest and that would have given him some credit. Nope, he got caught and squealed subsistence rights even though he signed his ticket, binding contract.

    I guess we will have to add another line to "Never trust Whitie!"

    Matt

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