Subsistence fishermen, who defied closures on the Kuskokwim River, are appealing their convictions.
During the summer of 2012, the state charged 23 people with violating a fishing closure meant to allow more king salmon to escape up the Kuskokwim River. The men were issued fines and placed on parole earlier this year.
According to recent court filings, 13 of them say the court made the wrong decision. A district court judge ruled the state's management of fish supersedes fishing as a spiritual practice.
James Davis, attorney with the Northern Justice Project, says the state must reduce bi-catch from pollock fishermen, instead of restricting subsistence fishing.
“The first thing the fishermen say is stop these outside interests from wasting king salmon before you interfere with our use of king salmon,” said Davis.
Laura Fox, Assistant Attorney General, says the state will file a response to the appeal in January.
“Those restrictions have to be enforceable in order to work so the people who were caught violating were prosecuted and fined and the state's division on appeal is those convictions should be upheld,” said Fox.
Last summer, the Department of Fish and Game declared an emergency order for the river, shutting down subsistence fishing.