The subsistence fishermen trials that were scheduled to start Tuesday in Bethel are on hold until new dates are set. Defense attorney, James Davis Jr., requested more time to consolidate the trials of all remaining fishermen and to bring in a new witness, Yup’ik culture expert, Chase Hensel.
According to the defense, Hensel is expected to testify as to how and why subsistence fishing should be protected under the First Amendment to the Alaska Constitution. Hensel has agreed to act as a pro bono expert in all cases.
Eleven fishermen were scheduled to stand trial November 13-14, and ten more are scheduled for trial in January.
Last month, three fishermen were found guilty in Bethel Court of fishing with illegal gear during the low King salmon run in June.
The defense argued that the fishermen were not properly notified of the fishing restrictions which changed throughout June. The court sided with the state, maintaining that the fishermen were properly notified through radio announcements, faxes, and orders presented in villages. The court said the fishermen were negligent and it was their responsibility to be informed.
Two fishermen were fined $250 dollars and put on probation for one year. One fisherman paid $350 dollars without probation.