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Following Dispute With State, Feds To Consult Attorney About Management Of Salmon Fisheries

A gillnet soaks in the Kuskokwim River during the opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile

Following a dispute with the state over management of the lower Kuskokwim River salmon fishery, the federal government appears to be evaluating its legal options. The Federal Subsistence Board is holding an executive session on Friday, July 9, to speak with its attorney regarding salmon fisheries on Federal public waters within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

On June 28, state managers announced a fishing opportunity on the lower Kuskokwim River. Federal managers said that the state did not have jurisdiction to issue an opening. The contradicting announcements by federal and state managers led to confusion among local fishermen.

Before the summer salmon season, the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge had declared federal management of the lower Kuskokwim River under ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, in order to conserve king salmon. In past years, the feds have returned jurisdiction to the state at the beginning of July. This year, the feds are holding onto management control of the lower Kuskokwim River into July to protect chum salmon.

KYUK asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if the Federal Subsistence Board’s consultation with attorneys was in response to the state’s action on June 28. A spokesperson for the federal agency, Caron McKee, wrote in an email that the discussion is confidential under attorney-client privilege. The Federal Subsistence Board will provide a summary of the conversation after the executive session on July 9.

Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.
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