on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction
June 02, 2004
"I am pleased that the Secretary of the Interior has acknowledged that it is inappropriate for the federal government to interfere with state regulatory and management actions," said Murkowski.
In a letter to Murkowski dated May 28, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced the decision and reiterated that "a high threshold for justification would have to be met before a decision to extend jurisdiction beyond Federal lands is made." Norton recognized that "such extraordinary decisions [preempt] a State's authority to regulate within its own jurisdiction." Norton indicated that she "will not risk damaging Federal/State relationships unless there is a clear demonstration that the State's action constitutes a substantial and impermissible interference with a federally protected right."
"I understand, and take very seriously, the concerns raised by the people from Western Alaska regarding the Area M fishery," said Murkowski. "As the federal government has correctly concluded, it is within the state's responsibility and authority to manage and conserve our resources. That is why I have instructed the Department of Fish and Game and Department of Public Safety to monitor the fishery."
Pointing to the Governor's charge to closely monitor the Area M fishery, Kevin C. Duffy, the commissioner of ADF&G, said that "the Department of Fish and Game is increasing sampling of catch, which will result in better information." Duffy also indicated that "the department will convene a panel of stakeholders and scientists to develop a stock identification research program, which will result in better information to assure conservation of salmon stocks that are vital to the people in Western Alaska."
At the same time, the Department of Public Safety is working to increase enforcement efforts in the fishery.
Earlier this year, several petitions were filed with the Federal Subsistence Board requesting that the federal government extend its jurisdiction beyond federal lands and waters to regulate commercial salmon fisheries in Area M. The petitions were filed in response to regulatory actions taken by the Alaska Board of Fisheries on February 25, 2004, which expanded commercial fishing opportunity in Area M.
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