NPFMC appoints Homer fishermen to Cook Inlet salmon committee
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council appointed two Homer-based fishermen to its Cook Inlet Salmon Committee last month. The council asked the committee to evaluate management options for Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishing in federal waters when it created the group earlier this year.
Dan Anderson and Hannah Heimbuch were both appointed to the committee during the NPFMC’s June meeting in Kodiak. The council also pointed three other commercial fishermen to the group, two of which are from Kasilof. All six members are drift gillnet permit holders.
Council Chair Dan Hull, who officially appointed the members, explained in his appointment letter that the council may expand the committee to include additional stakeholders at a later date.
“I recognize that these management measures may affect other stakeholder groups and that there is strong interest from a wide range of those groups to join the Salmon FMP Committee,” he explained. “I expect that at a future date the Council could determine, based on the progress of FMP development, that additional tasks for the Committee warrant selection of representatives from other stakeholder groups.”
The committee’s creation came after a multi-year court battle between the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the state. The drift association sued the state after the council handed over management of commercial salmon fishing in federal waters to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 2012.
The state lost the case after the initial ruling was overturned and the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
The drift association argues Fish and Game’s management structure, specifically its escapement goals, allow too many fish to swim upriver, limiting the number of salmon available for commercial harvest.
The committee will evaluate three potential options, including taking no action, cooperative federal and state management and returning control of federal salmon fisheries to the council.
The committee is due to meet for the first time before the NPFMC holds its December meeting.