Legal Update October 2022

On June 21st, a Federal US District Court judge for Alaska ruled in UCIDA’s favor in our litigation against National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and found the agency’s action on Amendment 14 to the federal Alaska Salmon Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) to be arbitrary, capricious and clearly illegal, and appropriately vacated Amendment 14 to the FMP. This was the second time that the federal courts have ruled in UCIDA’s favor. In 2016 the Ninth Circuit Court found Amendment 12 to the FMP to be illegal, arbitrary and capricious.  Judge Kindred, for the US District Court in Alaska, ruled in June that NMFS could not close the Cook Inlet EEZ to commercial salmon fishing. Also, in his decision, Judge Kindred ordered that UCIDA, NMFS and the State of AK (as an intervenor), agree to a briefing schedule and present it to the court by August 21. The briefs would help inform the judge as to what the appropriate remedy should be.

The agreed-upon briefing schedule included an opening remedy brief by UCIDA by September 6, response briefs by NMFS and the State of AK by September 29, and a final reply brief by UCIDA by October 13. These briefs are all linked below.

On September 6,  UCIDA filed a brief ( ) laying out our expectations for a remedy.  This filing included a supporting declaration from UCIDA Vice President Erik Huebsch ( ).  

On September 29, the US Dept. of Justice, for NMFS, filed a response in opposition to our brief ( ).  Their filing included a declaration from the recently appointed Administrator for NMFS’ Alaska Region, Jonathan Kurland ( ).  

As an intervenor against UCIDA in the case, the State of Alaska also filed a response brief in opposition ( ).  

Our final reply brief ( ) was filed on October 13.  The case is now fully briefed and we can expect that Judge Kindred will issue a ruling creating some guidelines for moving forward to a new FMP for Cook Inlet.

Reading these briefs should make it very apparent just how complex this case became as a result of NMFS’ and the State’s continued objections, obfuscations and their deliberate misinterpretation of what the MSA federal law requires. UCIDA members, Board members, and others, spent hundreds of hours working with our excellent legal team to make our case.

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