JUNEAU, Alaska — Gov. Bill Walker is holding off on implementing an administrative order that was recently at the center of a lawsuit between the state and a commercial fishing trade association.
A release issued Thursday by Walker’s office says he is putting a moratorium on the order to allow more time for public input, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2bMfPal).
The order, issued in February, called for the transfer of several functions of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The move is expected to save the state more than $1.3 million annually.
The commission was established by the Alaska Legislature in 1973 and is charged with limiting how many people can participate in the state’s commercial fisheries.
“The objectives of the Order were to streamline administrative and research functions of the agencies, identify cost-saving measures, and provide appropriate support to the commercial fishing industry in the state without negatively impacting the fishing industry,” the release states.
Before any duties were transferred, the state was sued in March by commercial fisherman and lobbyist Robert Thorstenson Jr. United Fishermen of Alaska joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs in April.
The group claimed the administrative order “unconstitutionally takes authority from the Alaska Legislature” and transfers functions of the commission that are critical to its operations.
The state’s request that the lawsuit be dismissed was granted by a Juneau Superior Court judge last month.
The ruling “could have paved the way for immediate action,” the press release says, but none has been taken. The governor plans to keep things the same while the moratorium is in effect in order to make time for public engagement and feedback.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com