State guts initiative to ban Inlet setnets
PHOTO/RASHAH MCCHESNEY/PENINSULA CLARION
The proposed ballot initiative to ban setnets in nonsubsistence areas of the state was rejected as a “prohibited appropriation” under the advice of the Alaska Department of Law.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell announced Jan. 6 that the proposed ban on setnetting did not meet the legal standards to appear on a ballot. The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance, or AFCA, sponsored the initiative and was targeting the August 2016 primary for presenting the issue to voters if it could gather enough signatures from around the state.
The Department of Law issued a 12-page opinion along with Treadwell’s announcement that determined having voters consider the ban would be an appropriation of state assets, which cannot be addressed in a ballot initiative.
That was based largely on a 1996 Alaska Supreme Court decision in Pullen v. Ulmer that maintained that salmon are assets that cannot be appropriated by initiative, and that preferential treatment of certain fisheries may constitute a prohibited appropriation.
In the Pullen case, a ballot initiative would have allocated a preferential portion of salmon to subsistence, personal use and sport fisheries, and limited them to about 5 percent of the projected statewide harvest. After it was initially certified, the state Supreme Court ruled that was an unconstitutional appropriation, and the initiative was not allowed on the ballot.