A ballot measure that would ban commercial setnets in urban areas of Alaska had its signatures approved by the state Tuesday.
In a press release, the Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance announced the certification Wednesday. Of the 43,000 signatures the group collected, just under 36,000 were deemed valid -- well over the 28,545 required.
The initiative would likely be on the 2016 August primary ballot, though it's far from settled. Oral arguments in an appeal of a judge's decision to let the initiative head to the ballot are scheduled for the end of August. Opponents of the ballot measure argue the initiative amounts to an allocation of resources, which state law prohibits voters from doing. An Anchorage Superior Court judge rejected that argument, saying the initiative addresses a gear ban, not an allocation.
While the initiative would outlaw commercial setnetting in five urban areas of the state, it's targeted at Cook Inlet setnetters and the king salmon they catch, which are coveted by sportfishermen.
Supporters of the initiative have noted the Legislature could also move to adopt the measure during its regular session at the beginning of next year.