Judge allows additional briefs in UCIDA lawsuit

ANCHORAGE — A federal judge ruled to allow additional information to be filed in the lawsuit regarding federal oversight of Cook Inlet salmon management. United Cook Inlet Drift Association and Cook Inlet Fisherman’s Fund, who brought the lawsuit forward in February 2013, want federal oversight of the state’s salmon management — and believe that is what congress has intended in its regulations of fish in federal waters.

Although the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is responsible for day-to-day management, there is a federal salmon fishery management plan for most of the state. The National Marine Fisheries Service, however, specifically excluded Cook Inlet salmon from the federal fishery management plan, or FMP, via Amendment 12.

During oral argument May 27, Judge Timothy Burgess asked both sides about other situations where a fishery was removed from a fishery management plan. The federal defendants provided three examples that had not previously been raised, and the fishing organization’s attorney Jason Morgan wrote in the June 2 brief that the organization wanted the chance to address them.

In the brief, Morgan wrote that the Gulf of Alaska tanner crab fishery and the black and blue rockfish fishery in Alaska were not analogous with the salmon fisheries because they are much smaller. He also provided details that contradicted the federal portrayal of the gulf tanner crab fishery, which was never included in the FMP, rather than being specifically removed.

UCIDA asked June 2 to file additional information in response to a question asked during oral argument May 27 in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. Judge Burgess ordered to allow that information June 5.

The federal defendants have until June 13 to respond to the supplemental briefing.

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