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STATE OF ALASKA TO PAY OUT OF STATE FISHERMAN $ 70 MILLION

Fisherman from outside of the State of Alaska who paid “out of state fees” for commercial fishing licenses and permits from 1984 to 2004 will receive up to $ 70 million dollars in compensation. As the result of a class action lawsuit filed in 1984, the Alaska Court has ruled that the State of Alaska must reimburse out of state fisherman for excessive charges. The Court held that charging the non-Alaska fisherman a fee differential violated the privileges and immunities clause of the United States Constitution. Much of the $70 million dollars is the result of the 11% compound interest rate that was set on the damages. Prior to 2004, the State of Alaska had customarily charged non-residents as much as three times more for fishing permits and licenses than it charged Alaska residents. The refunds must be approved by the Alaska State legislature but are anticipated to be paid out to claimants beginning in 2010. The compensation plan is complicated and not all non-residents will receive compensation. Issues still remain over reasonable attorneys fees and the State of Alaska’s contribution to those legal fees.