Press Release

Alaska Seeks to Retain State Management of Cook Inlet Fishery

February 27, 2017

(Anchorage, AK) – The State of Alaska today requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse a decision by the Ninth Circuit taking away state control of the salmon fishery in Cook Inlet. The State has managed this fishery since statehood, and the federal and state entities have all agreed that state management is better at preventing overfishing in this area.

“This is an area where the federal government recognizes the State’s expertise and agrees that the State is better equipped to manage the fishery, even in federal waters,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will review this important issue and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2013 challenging state management of the Cook Inlet salmon fishery in federal waters. Although the salmon fisheries occur partly in federal waters, NMFS agreed that the State’s longstanding management of the fisheries better protected fish stocks. The State intervened to support NMFS’ decision and retain state management authority.

The Alaska District Court granted summary judgment to NMFS and the State and found the State could continue managing the fisheries. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed. The State is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will preserve state management in the federal waters of lower Cook Inlet and other areas that may be impacted by the decision. If the decision stands, the State will no longer be able to manage these fisheries, and NMFS will have to create an entirely new management plan.

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