Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Alaska to refund nearly $70M in fishing fees

Juneau, Alaska (AP) – Fishermen from outside Alaska can expect
nearly $70 million in refunds for commercial fishing license fees
the Alaska Supreme Court says were unconstitutionally high.

More than 11,000 license holders were reviewed by the state,
which determined that more than 4,000 overpaid their fees and were
due refunds amounting to $68.3 million.

While some amounts are relatively small, many are for thousands
of dollars and one is for more than $162,000.

Meanwhile, Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan has called a $21
million attorney fee request by Juneau lawyer Loren Domke
“borderline outrageous.” Domke represents the fishermen and is
seeking legal fees on top of the refunds.

Domke said responsibility for the legal fees lies with the
court, not him.

“It doesn’t matter what the lawyers ask for, it’s what the court
orders,” he said.

Domke also noted that the case has been fought for 25 years
without payment.

“It’s been done on an assumption that at the end the court would
award some attorney fees,” Domke said.

The Alaska Department of Law, representing the Commercial
Fisheries Entry Commission, is continuing to fight the case. It has
hired an accountant to review Domke’s request.

The class-action lawsuit was filed by Donald Carlson and other
nonresident fishermen and has become one of the longest active
cases in Alaska, spanning half the state’s history. It reached the
state’s highest court four times since it was originally filed in

The out-of-state fishermen claimed the state’s fees were
unfairly, and unconstitutionally, high.

The court said it is legal to charge nonresidents more, because
the state subsidizes some of the cost of managing the fishery with
state resources.

But the court determined that in many cases the amounts charged
to nonresidents were too high.

Sullivan said that the bulk of the payments are the result of
accrued interest.

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