Deliberations to judge a lawsuit involving more than 4,500 Alaskan fishermen claiming they were victimised by collusive pricing practices regarding the sale of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon will start on 26 May at a US superior court in the state capital Anchorage.

Lawyers for the fishermen charge that major Japanese importers and Seattle-based processors conspired to lower prices paid to them from 1989 to 1995. The fishermen want hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Japanese producer conglomerate Marubeni, a major defendant in the lawsuit, reached a US$25m settlement during the first week of the trial but denied any wrongdoing. Other defendants include Japanese importers Okaya & Co. Ltd., Nichirei Corp., Nichiro Corp. and Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. Defendant processors are Trident, Wards Cove, Icicle Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods and Unisea Inc.