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Hunting & Fishing

Federal Wildlife Officers Issue Zero Citations During State Fishing Opener

A subsistence fisherman harvests a king salmon from the lower Kuskokwim River during a gillnet opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile

Federal law enforcement officers issued zero citations and seized zero nets during the June 28 state-issued gillnet fishing opener on the lower Kuskokwim. In an email, Federal Wildlife Officer Chris Johnson told KYUK that officers concentrated their law enforcement efforts before and after the state opening.

On June 24, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced a gillnet fishing opening for June 28. The state’s legal authority to announce an opening was questionable. Before the summer fishing season, the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge had declared federal management of the lower Kuskokwim salmon fishery under ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, to help conserve king salmon. The lower Kuskokwim River is currently closed to gillnets under federal management.

Federal managers said that the state-issued opening was illegitimate and illegal. Local groups, like the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Association of Village Council Presidents, and the state’s own local advisory group, all opposed the state-issued fishing opening.

Ahead of the state opening, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment on whether fishermen would be cited for participating in the state opener. Ultimately, no citations were issued.


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