Nearly half of the subsistence fishermen found guilty of illegal fishing on the Kuskokwim River are appealing.Their attorney, James Davis Jr., filed the notice of appeal. He says 11 fishermen have decided to appeal the convictions that were handed to them at the Bethel District Court in May and filed the paper work June 2.
The Yup’ik fishermen were cited last year during a poor King salmon run. They were fishing for salmon when the river was closed for a 12-day period.
During their trials before a judge, about two dozen fishermen argued they have a spiritual right to fish for king salmon when restrictions are in place.
Bruce Ward, an acting District Court Judge, found the state’s need to restrict kings supersedes the fishermen’s religious rights.
It will likely be six months before the appeal is heard and then another 6 months until a decision is made.