Treadwell Rejects Gill Net Initiative

January 6, 2014, Anchorage, AK – Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell today rejected an initiative to prohibit shore gill nets and set nets in nonsubsistence areas of the state. Lt. Gov. Treadwell took action on the advice of the Department of Law, whose 12-page opinion called the proposed measure (13PCAF) a prohibited appropriation under Article XI, Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution.

The Department of Law’s conclusion was based primarily on the Alaska Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Pullen v. Ulmer, a case holding that salmon are assets of the state which may not be appropriated by initiative and that the preferential treatment of certain fisheries may constitute a prohibited appropriation.

The Department of Law’s opinion letter also states, “Were this type of initiative permissible, voters could continue to reallocate stocks to any fishery simply by eliminating specific gear or particular means and methods of catching fish – for example, the next initiative might propose to eliminate purse seining, trawling, dipnetting, or catch-and-release sport fishing in particular areas to increase harvest opportunity for other types of users. This would ‘prevent … real regulation and careful administration’ of Alaska’s salmon stocks, contrary to the purpose of the prohibition on initiative by appropriation.”

Upon receiving an application for a proposed initiative, the lieutenant governor must review it and within sixty calendar days of receipt either certify it or notify the initiative committee of the grounds for denial. The initiative was filed on November 6 by Joseph Connors of Sterling, AK, making today, January 6, the deadline for certification or denial.

“On this initiative we received input from the sponsor, supporters, and opponents, all of which we shared with the attorney general’s office,” Treadwell said. “We have urged the parties to work together with the Board of Fish to address concerns about setnets and fisheries allocations.”

The sponsors have thirty days from today to exercise their right to judicial review under Article XI, section 2 of the Alaska Constitution and AS 15.45.240.

Final documents are available online:

Denial Letter: https://ltgov.alaska.gov/treadwell_media/initiatives/13PCAF%20Sponsor%20Denial%20Letter.pdf

Attorney General Opinion: https://ltgov.alaska.gov/treadwell_media/initiatives/13PCAF%20Attorney%20General%20Opinion.pdf

Elections Signature Verification: https://ltgov.alaska.gov/treadwell_media/initiatives/13PCAF%20Elections%20Signaure%20Verification.pdf

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