By Zach Hill
The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) recently announced plans to seek approval to gather signatures for a future statewide ballot initiative seeking to prohibit setnets from urban areas, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Valdez, Juneau and Ketchikan in the name of conserving salmon stocks. I’ve never heard anyone in Fairbanks complain about setnets threatening local salmon stocks. There are no commercial set net fisheries in Valdez, Juneau or Ketchikan. This effort is clearly targeting the Upper Cook Inlet setnet fishery and its harvest of king salmon bound for rivers on the road system, but the AFCA is hoping that Alaskan voters aren’t smart enough to figure that out.
This initiative is a conservation issue in name only. Its true goal is to reallocate fish from commercial to sport/guided/personal use. This was done in order to sidestep our state constitution and a 1995 Alaska Supreme Court ruling. They hope to fool the Department of Law into allowing them to collect signatures to put the issue to voters. Using a campaign of misinformation and pointing fingers, they aim to gain what established public process has continually denied them: decreased competition for sport and personal use fishermen, not necessarily more fish.
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