Residents have chance to be heard on fisheries issues

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2005

If you are an avid sport fisherman, personal-use fisherman or commercial fisherman, there are two upcoming events that will afford you the opportunity to be heard on fishery issues for our area.

Most fishermen feel there is something in the regulations that could be changed to improve their favorite fisheries. Our area, more than any other in the state, offers a diverse array of issues affecting our fishing success. Whether that success is measured by harvest success or the pleasure derived in the fishing experience, each of us sees this on our own scale.

Our local problems include commercial vs. sport, guided vs. unguided, crowding, economics and resource allocation. None of these are easily solved, but what is common among them is the need for level-headed thinking and community involvement to help solve them to varying degrees.

If you would like to become involved in this process and have your ideas heard you may be interested in these upcoming opportunities.

First, the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee will be holding elections to fill seven seats. Up for election during this cycle is one sportfishing guide seat, one personal use-subsistence seat and five at large seats. Sportfishing guides and commercial fishermen are not eligible to run for the at large seats.

These elections will take place at our meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kenai River Center on Funny River Road. The advisory committee is a state-sponsored committee responsible for formulating and responding to both state and federal bodies on changes in fish and game resource management issues for our area. We are a well-rounded, grass-roots committee that works with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to offer feedback to the Board of Fish, Board of Game and various federal agencies on hunting, fishing and trapping issues for our area. If this is something you would be interested in, please plan on attending and running for one of these open seats. Fresh ideas are always welcome and appreciated.

Secondly, is the upcoming opportunity for people from our area to testify before a Board of Fish panel regarding fisheries proposals for our area. This year, the Board of Fish will take up regulation change proposals for the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet.

The body of the meeting will be held in Anchorage Jan. 17-29, but since there are over 300 proposals up for consideration, the board has determined it prudent to come to our area to gather public comment and information from local participants that can't afford the travel or work absence to attend in Anchorage.

Testimony will be taken at the Soldotna Sports Center conference room Jan. 14 at 1:30 p.m. and again Jan. 15 at 8:30 a.m. Proposals and staff comments can be found on the Department of Fish and Game Web site.

Anyone wishing to testify can do so in regard to submitted proposals or offer insight into fishing issues they think are in need of change or raised awareness. This opportunity for local testimony doesn't come to our area very often and those of us who are active participants in our fisheries should take this opportunity to share our viewpoints with board members that will be involved in the final deliberations putting regulation changes into law.

Failure to take advantage of this opportunity by individual fishermen, whether they be sport or commercial, will leave change in the hands of the powerful and well-heeled special interest groups and it will be business as usual for the Board of Fish process.

Please don't let this happen. Become involved and participate.

Hope to see you at one or both of these important resource management functions.

Dwight Kramer, chair, Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee

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