Alaska Sea Grant in the News

Who has the legal right to fish?

Date: January 26, 1998
Contact: Harry Bader, 907-474-6521,

FAIRBANKS, Alaska--As controversy continues over the unresolved issues of hunting and fishing rights in Alaska and the pending federal takeover of fish and game management, many people are asking the question: What gives the federal government authority over state fish and wildlife resources? Some answers to this important question are contained in the new Sea Grant publication, Who Has the Legal Right to Fish? authored by Harry Bader, associate professor of resource management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This 23-page plain language review of constitutional and common law explains the legal basis and principles through which the federal and state governments as well as tribal entities derive control or use preferences over fisheries resources. Although these principles are explained in the context of fisheries law, the same principles guide governmental and tribal control of other resources.

This publication is a valuable resource for reporters covering these important issues facing the state. Copies are available from Alaska Sea Grant for $4.00. Permission to print excerpts from the publication is granted with the proviso that the author and Sea Grant receive credit. The full text of the document also is available on the Internet at

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a marine research, education and outreach service headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the state of Alaska and private industry.

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