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Kootznoowoo seeks federal control of marine waters

Posted: April 3, 2012 - 12:04am

Kootznoowoo Inc. has turned to the federal government in an attempt to restore salmon numbers for subsistence use by Angoon village residents.

The corporation’s petition was a topic of contention at the recent Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council meeting in Juneau, held March 21-23.

Peter Naoroz, general manager and president of Kootznoowoo Inc. said the advisory council meeting wasn’t the first time this issue has been aired.

“The Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council was one of the stops we’ve taken along this process that started years ago,” Naoroz said.

Kootznoowoo has tried to convince the state to change its management style of certain marine waters around Admiralty Island, Naoroz said.

“But it wouldn’t happen,” Naoroz said. “We found that the subsistence priority was not being met in Angoon. So the question is what do we do about it?”

According to the Advisory Council’s findings, Kootznoowoo has claimed the state of Alaska interfered with sockeye salmon escapements and subsistence harvests in waters that Angoon residents fish “to such an extent as to result in a failure of the subsistence priority.”

Kootznoowoo turned to the federal government for help.

The corporation is asking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to “exert extraterritorial jurisdiction to non-federal marine waters adjacent to Admiralty Island,” according to the corporation’s petition.

“Typically the state manages these waters,” Naoroz said of marine waters near Admiralty Island. However, the federal government has jurisdiction over certain crimes and events wherever they happen, Naoroz said. The Endangered Species Act also provides for federal jurisdiction over anadromous species, such as salmon, he said.

Naoroz said that his corporation’s proposal met pushback from some fishers.

“We’re talking about fish, a sensitive subject,” Naoroz said.

Naoroz said the council’s recommendations move up to the Federal Subsistence Board, which in turn passes a recommendation to Vilsack.

The Regional Advisory Council concluded while it is true commercial fishers catch some salmon in route to areas Angoon subsistence fishers harvest and the annual request for 250 salmon per family is not likely while escapement numbers are being met, "the resolution of ownership of marine waters is not a requirement to address the question of whether there is a meaningful subsistence priority for the harvest of sockeye salmon on Federal public land by the residents of Angoon." State of Alaska cooperation with the Federal Subsistence Program and local communities is required to find an ultimate solution, the council concluded.

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