SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Margaret Bauman] January 7, 2014
A proposed statewide initiative to ban commercial shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas of Alaska was rejected Jan. 6 by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. His decision was based on an opinion from the state Department of Law that the proposed measure is prohibited under the Alaska Constitution.
The Law Department cited primarily a 1996 Pullen v. Ulmer decision of the Alaska Supreme Court, a case holding that salmon are assets of the state which may not be appropriated by initiative and that the preferential treatment of certain fisheries may constitute a prohibited appropriation, Treadwell said.
The Department of Law concluded, in part that, “were this type of initiative permissible, voters could continue to reallocate stocks to any fishery simply by eliminating specific gear or particular means and methods of catching fish – for example, the next initiative might propose to eliminate purse seining, trawling, dipnetting, or catch-and-release sport fishing in particular areas to increase harvest opportunity for other types of users.
“This would ‘prevent …real regulation and careful administration’ of Alaska’s salmon stocks, contrary to the purpose of the prohibition on initiative by appropriation.”
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