Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting heads to central peninsula
KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The state board that sets seasons and take limits for Alaska commercial, sport and personal use salmon fisheries will meet in the central Kenai Peninsula in 2020 for the first time in 20 years.
Since 1999, the Alaska Board of Fisheries has met in Anchorage to set rules in Upper Cook Inlet, home of some of Alaska’s most popular salmon fisheries, the Peninsula Clarion reported .
The politicization of the meeting location has been a consequence of ongoing disagreements over salmon allocation.
Upper Cook Inlet has a large commercial fishing fleet as well as half the state’s population. Many of those Alaskans participate in sport or personal-use fishing, leading to conflicts over salmon allocation between users and between areas along salmon return routes.
The board has held work sessions on the Kenai Peninsula, most recently in 2016, but not a full deliberative board meeting. Board of Fisheries Chairman John Jensen said the board reopened a discussion of where to meet after requests from Kenai Peninsula municipalities and the public.
Board member Al Cain proposed a system for rotating the meeting locations among the major communities of Upper Cook Inlet — Anchorage, Palmer or Wasilla in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, or Kenai or Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula. Meeting outside Anchorage could alleviate political tension and engage younger Alaskans, Cain said.
Upper Cook Inlet board meetings typically last about 14 days. The format includes committee discussions, public comment and board deliberations. That makes it difficult to determine when a particular rule will be considered. For someone trying to testify, the uncertainly often means a hotel stay, additional expense or the frustration of not being heard.
Andy Hall, president of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, a trade group representing Cook Inlet east side commercial set gillnet fishermen, said board members miss valuable comments when they meet only in Anchorage.
“For over a decade and a half the people of the Kenai Peninsula have been marginalized, excluded from the Board of Fish process by distance, cost and inconvenience . please don’t let that continue,” Hall said in a letter to the board.
Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com