The trials of 22 Yup’ik subsistence fishermen have been postponed again. Bethel court magistrate, Bruce Ward, has rescheduled the trials of the subsistence fishermen who are being charged with illegal fishing during the poor King salmon run this past summer.
The trials are now set for April 15 and are scheduled to run for two weeks.
Attorney James Davis Jr., who is representing the fishermen pro bono, wants to consolidate the trials into one case. He plans to have specialists on Yup’ik culture testify for all the defendants. With the trials consolidated, the experts would need to testify only once.
A hearing on the cases was held Friday (Nov. 30) in Bethel. Ward did not rule on the consolidation request, but said that the experts would not have to testify in all 22 cases.
Three subsistence fishermen have already been tried at the Bethel District Court. In October, all three were found guilty for fishing with illegal gear. The court found that they were fishing with King nets on the Kuskokwim River when it was closed to larger nets.