Former Assemblyman Coffey found violating fishing rules, troopers say

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage attorney and former Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Dan Coffey was cited for violating a pair of fishing regulations in Southeast Alaska on Saturday, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

A state trooper on a boat patrol in the Peril Strait area, north of Sitka, found that crab traps belonging to Coffey had been baited with sport-caught king salmon, according to a written statement from the troopers. Under state fishing regulations, only salmon scraps can be used as bait, and "Coffey was using other than the head, tail, fins, closely trimmed skeleton, or viscera," according to the troopers' account.

Coffey, also a former member of the Anchorage Assembly, said he had baited his Dungeness crab traps with scraps from king fillets he had caught earlier in the summer. The trooper, he said, told him that out of three tails in his trap, one hadn't been trimmed closely enough.

"That's a little subjective, but I could see his point as well," Coffey said. "If I made a mistake, it was not salvaging enough of the meat. I'm going to tell the judge what I did, and I'm going to let him decide."

Two of Coffey's shellfish pots also were missing a required escape mechanism, the troopers said, which allow undersized crab to climb out of the trap if it is lost or forgotten.

Coffey said he only recalled being cited for one faulty pot, but acknowledged that he forgot to put the escape ring in. He added that he "should have been more careful."

Coffey said that he paid a $110 fine for the missing escape ring, and would fly back to Sitka for a court hearing on the bait violation.


Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.