“The court's decision will ensure that the standards described in the MSA [Magnuson-Stevens Act], such as conservation, sustainability, prevention of overfishing and utilization of the best scientific information available, will apply to the Cook Inlet Salmon Fishery so that these resources are available for generations to come.”
The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Stoel Rives’ clients
United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund in its reversal of a decision from the Alaska Federal District Court, which had ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS) was within its rights to cede to the state oversight of part of an Alaskan salmon fishery that allows net-fishing, on the grounds that the state is best suited to manage the its own salmon fisheries.
The circuit court ruled that federal government must continue to manage fisheries in federal waters that require conservation, unless the NFMS first produces a fishery management plan for an area. The fishermen praised the decision, arguing that poor fishery management by the state had led to a reduction of 51 percent since 1981 in the sockeye salmon catch.
Jason Morgan said in a statement that the appeals court decision is a win not only for the groups but for the entire Cook Inlet salmon fishery resource, in that the MSA’s protections allow for further sustainable management of the fishery resource.
The state of Alaska, which said in a statement that it will continue to review the court’s decision and weigh its options, had argued that fishery management by the state is the best way to prevent overfishing, the primary purpose of the MSA.
Read “9th Circ. Says Alaska Fishery Needs Federal Management Plan,” published by Law360 September 22, 2016 (subscription required), and “Ninth Circuit Sides With Fishermen in Inlet Fight,” published by Courthouse News Service, September 21, 2016 (subscription required).