Thursday May 19, 2022

Law Street

On Tuesday, the United States filed a complaint in the District of Alaska against the State of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game alleging that Alaska’s 2021 and 2022 emergency orders, which allow fishing on a portion of a river in Alaska the U.S. closed for conservation purposes, are preempted by federal law. 

According to the United States, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), enacted by Congress, requires the U.S. Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to grant priority to non-wasteful subsistence uses of fish and wildlife on Alaska’s public lands to rural Alaskans. 

Additionally, the complaint states that the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) has been delegated the authority by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to implement ANILCA’s rural priority mandate through the adoption of regulations consistent with the preservation of Alaska’s fish and wildlife. The complaint further states that FSB’s authority includes the adoption of short-term emergency actions to restrict or close public lands for non-subsistence fishing when necessary to ensure conservation and to re-delegate its authority to agency field officials to set harvest limits. 

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