Fishing Leases Aren’t Protected Property

     JUNEAU, Alaska (CN) – Regulations reducing the commercial salmon season in Alaska did not deprive commercial salmon fishers of their property rights, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.

     Commercial salmon fishers with permits to harvest pacific salmon in the Cook Inlet filed a class action, claiming a regulation set by the Alaska Board of Fisheries violated their entry permits and shore fishery leases.
     The provision closed the drift gillnet fishing season on Aug. 9 instead of Dec. 31 and restricted commercial drift gillnet permit holders from using gear in certain areas of Cook Inlet during priority commercial fishing times.
     The superior court dismissed the case. On appeal, the plaintiffs claimed the permits and leases are constitutionally protected property. Justice Carpeneti disagreed.
     “The plain language of the Limited Entry Act supports the conclusion that an entry permit is not property but a mere ‘use privilege’ that does not require compensation when modified,” Carpeneti ruled.
     Also, the justice wrote that the state constitution “does not grant the salmon fishers an exclusive private property right in the state waters.”

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