A judge ruled Wednesday that a commercial fishing group should pay part of the State's cost for the lawsuit regarding management of the Cook Inlet salmon fisheries in 2013.

Alaska Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi issued an order asking Cook Inlet Fisherman's Fund to pay the state Department of Law $12,924. That amount was 20 percent of what the state spent defending itself in the fisheries management lawsuit, according to a Department of Law memo filed with the court June 18.

Frustration is growing in the Kuskokwim region of western Alaska, as subsistence fishermen challenged managers for more openings on the river that has seen harsh restrictions this season in an effort to conserve king salmon.

Managers heard their concerns at the Kuskokwim River Salmon Working Group meeting in Bethel Tuesday, but reiterated that their efforts were for conservation, as the king salmon run in the region appears on track to be abysmal going into the 2014 season.

The Bristol Bay Native Corp.'s Education Foundation is no longer an investor in the contentious Pebble Mine project, after deciding to sell stock which it had received as a gift.

A new national organization was officially launched on Thursday with a mission to advocate on behalf of the commercial fishing industry.

A federal judge heard oral argument yesterday in the lawsuit regarding whether or not Cook Inlet should be in a federal salmon management plan.

Alaska has managed its own salmon since statehood, and neither party is questioning that. But the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, who brought the lawsuit forward in February 2013, want federal oversight of salmon management — and believes that is what congress has intended in its regulations of fish in federal waters.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and other entities have reached a decision on a regional split of the $20.8 million in federal aid for fisheries disasters, but how to spend that money is still being decided.

Cook Inlet fishers, businesses and other organizations will receive $11.1 million in federal fisheries disaster aid for the poor salmon runs in 2012, according to NMFS spokeswoman Julie Speegle. Those in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region will receive $9.6 million, she wrote in a May 23 email.

Scientists, industry representatives and others interested in fisheries science, management and policy discussed all things bycatch at the Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium in Anchorage May 13-16.

From January through May 10, commercial fishermen targeting primarily pollock and other groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea have caught about 5,868 king salmon and 2,294 metric tons, or more than 5 million pounds, of halibut while targeting other species in federal fisheries offshore from Alaska.

The court-ordered environmental impact statement on Steller sea lion protection measures in the Aleutian Islands is now complete.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced today that it had completed the final impact statement, or EIS, which supports providing some additional fishing opportunity in the Aleutians.

The document is available online, and NMFS is taking comments on it through June 27.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has selected 11 groups to help determine how it will spend $20.8 million in federal funds for the king salmon disaster declarations made in 2012.

Congress appropriated the funds earlier this year in response to the disaster declaration made for poor king runs on the Yukon River in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Kuskokwim River in 2011 and 2012 and for Cook Inlet’s 2012 salmon fisheries.

Oral argument in the lawsuit over 2013 Cook Inlet commercial fisheries management was scheduled for later this month at a trial setting conference in Anchorage on Friday.

The Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, or CIFF, sued the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in July 2013, asserting that fisheries managers did not follow Cook Inlet salmon management plans appropriately in 2013, causing harm to commercial fishermen there.