Trials reset for Native fishermen in salmon cases

A Bethel court magistrate has rescheduled the trials of 22 Alaska Natives who are charged with illegal fishing during a weak king salmon run.

Magistrate Bruce Ward reset the trials for the subsistence fishermen to begin April 15.

The fishermen’s attorney, James J. Davis Jr., had sought to consolidate the trials into one case to allow two specialists on Yup’ik Eskimo culture to act as pro bono experts for all the defendants.

Davis says Ward did not officially rule on the consolidation request in a hearing Friday, but agreed that the experts would not have to testify in all of the cases.

Three other fishermen tried separately in October in Bethel were found guilty of violating strict fishing restrictions for king salmon last summer. The men were each fined $250.