Sullivan Condemns NOAA Finding on ESA Petition for Gulf of Alaska King Salmon

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today released the following statement regarding the National Marine Fisheries Services’ (NMFS) determination that a listing of king salmon in the Gulf of Alaska as “threatened or endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “may be warranted” in response to a petition filed by the Seattle-based Wild Fish Conservancy.

“My team and I have been very engaged on this misguided petition to list king salmon under the Endangered Species Act from the beginning. In a phone call in March, I urged NMFS Administrator Janet Coit not to take this action, noting that an ESA listing is a blunt, one-size-fits-all instrument that often has no real benefit for the species and, in this case, would inflict significant harm on Alaskans and our economy.

“It’s important to note, the petition for this listing comes from the Seattle-based ‘Wild Fish Conservancy,’ the same radical, far-left activist group that filed a meritless, deceptive lawsuit last year to shut down our small boat, hook-and-line troll salmon fishery in Southeast.

“Now that NOAA has begun this long ESA process, I’m urging the agency to consult with as many Alaskans as possible—those who have the most at stake, like the Alaska Native people whose traditional knowledge of salmon is unsurpassed, and also the expert scientists at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game who have a more extensive understanding of Alaska’s salmon and marine ecosystems than federal officials. Another good place to start would be the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force, established by my 2022 legislation, which has convened the best minds—tribal, university, federal, state and local leaders—to get answers on the cause of the extreme and, in some places, devastating variability in salmon returns across the state.

“It is time for Alaskans to unite, as we did to protect our Southeast fishermen, and fight back against this radical Lower 48 group trying to weaponize the ESA against the livelihoods and cultural traditions of thousands of Alaska families.”

# # #