US federal government takes over Cook Inlet salmon management from Alaskan state oversight

Pink salmon swimming in an Alaska river
Pink salmon swimming in an Alaska river | Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries
4 Min

NOAA Fisheries will take over management of commercial and recreational salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet from the U.S. state of Alaska in June, the agency announced this week.

The action follows more than a decade of legal maneuvering, beginning with the United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) suing NOAA Fisheries for not developing a management plan for the Cook Inlet exclusive economic zone.

To date, the federal government has allowed the state government to manage fishing in the inlet – a 180-mile stretch of water that runs from the Gulf of Alaska to the city of Anchorage. In 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government needed to implement a fishery management plan for the body of water.

Responsibility for crafting that plan first went to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, but the council was unable to settle on a recommendation. Without council action, NOAA Fisheries was required by the courts to craft and implement a plan.

The new management comes with updated requirements. Commercial drift gillnet vessels will now need to secure federal permits, maintain logbooks, and install vessel monitoring systems. Processors and buyers will also need to secure federal permits to receive deliveries of Cook Inlet salmon and report those deliveries in a digital eLandings system.

NOAA Fisheries’ plan received substantial negative feedback during the public comment period, which ended in December.

While many Alaska tribes requested a separate Indigenous subsistence fishery in the final rule, NOAA Fisheries said there was not enough time to incorporate the request before the legally set deadline for announcing the new plan.

“Given the impending court deadline of 1 May 2024 for publication of this action, there was not sufficient opportunity to work with interested tribes on developing a proposal that could be analyzed and incorporated into amendment 16 while remaining on schedule to comply with the court order,” the agency said in response to public comments.

NOAA Fisheries has scheduled three public meetings to help people understand the new management system. There will be two in-person meetings: the first on 15 May at the Quality Inn conference room in Kenai, Alaska, at 5:30 p.m. AKDT and the second at the Best Western Bidarka Inn upstairs conference room in Homer, Alaska, at 5:30 p.m. A virtual webinar will also be held on 22 May at 10 a.m.

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500