News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Micciche
For Immediate Release: November 27, 2020
SOLDOTNA – Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, sent a letter Wednesday urging the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) to reject a rushed proposal lacking due process that would eliminate commercial salmon fishing in all salt-water areas beyond three miles of the Upper Cook Inlet, otherwise known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
NPFMC is overseeing management of the Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery to bring it in compliance with the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act.
At a joint November 5 meeting between NPFMC and the Alaska Board of Fisheries, four alternatives were proposed: no action; federal management of the EEZ with specific management measures delegated to the State; federal management without delegation; and Cook Inlet EEZ closed to commercial salmon fishing.
To ensure the sustainability of salmon resources for all user groups in Cook Inlet, Sen. Micciche is urging the Council to adopt Alternative 2 and reject 4.
“Alternative 4 will have dramatic negative consequences for the entire commercial fishing industry in Cook Inlet, a commercial fishery which has been prosecuted for well over a century,” wrote Sen. Micciche. “Generations of Peninsula families have lived a life of fishing these waters, providing high quality protein to the nation and the world. Young crew members have earned money for college while being instilled with a work ethic which they carry with them for life. Alternative 4 will likely put an end to commercial salmon fishing in Cook Inlet and therefore, an Alaskan way of life.”
Some may believe ending commercial salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet will benefit sport and personal use fisheries. Sen. Micciche contends the opposite is true.
“Instead of a fishery beginning in late June, in an area with little allocation competition, more openings would be required later in the season in order for the ADF&G to manage large quantities of returning fish, actually exacerbating the conflict,” wrote Sen. Micciche. “Inevitably, this will result in over-escapement and eventually smaller returns, directly and negatively impacting the quality and quantities of salmon available for the other sport, personal use and subsistence user groups.”
Conversely, Alternative 2 “balances the survival of the species and the various user groups who rely on salmon,” according to Sen. Micciche.