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Alaska Lt. Gov. Treadwell Rejects Ballot Initiative Banning Set Netters

Dr. Lubchenco (NOAA) and Mead Treadwell, Chair...
Dr. Lubchenco (NOAA) and Mead Treadwell, Chairman
of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission have a
conversation during the Arctic Domain
Awareness flight (Photo credit: uscgpress)
Posted today
A controversial initiative to prohibit certain types of fishing in areas of the state that do not rely heavily on subsistence was rejected by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.... - Full story here.

More > Setnet initiative struck down

The proposed ban on setnets was struck down Monday afternoon as a “prohibited appropriation” under the advice of Alaska’s Department of Law.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell announced this afternoon that the proposed ban on setnetters would not appear on the ballot.

 According to a statement from the Division of Elections, the Department of Law issued a 12-page opinion that determined that having voters consider the ban would be an appropriation, which cannot be addressed in a ballot initiative.

That was based largely on a 1996 Alaska Supreme Court decision in Pullen vs. 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, according to the press release.

A ban would largely have affected Cook Inlet setnetters, although the text of the ordinance sought to prohibit setnetting across the state in areas that do not have rural designations — in addition to the Upper Cook Inlet, that would mean Valdez and Juneau, where no......

State rejects initiative to ban commercial setnetters
Posted 01/06/2014
By Margaret Bauman
A proposed statewide initiative to ban commercial shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas of Alaska was rejected Jan. 6 by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. His decision was based on an opinion from the state Department of Law that the proposed measure is prohibited under the Alaska Constitution.
The Law Department cited primarily a 1996 Pullen v. Ulmer decision of the Alaska Supreme Court, a case holding that salmon are assets of the state which may not be appropriated by initiative and....

Full PR: 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:

Attorney General Opinion:

Elections Signature Verification: