Murkowski appoints four to fish board

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski chose a commercial fisherman, a former sport fish director, a seafood marketing consultant and a fish processing representative to serve on the state board that regulates Alaska's fisheries Thursday.

The Republican governor, who was critical of a Democrat administration's fishing decisions, said the appointees should make objective decisions that consider commercial, subsistence and sport fishing interests.

''It is imperative that this board be balanced between the various fishing groups who use Alaska's fish resources,'' Murkowski said in a statement.

The board appointees are:

-- Art Nelson of Anchorage, who has worked as a coordinator of employment development for the At-Sea Processors Association. Nelson, a Republican, lost a bid for House District 21 in November against Democrat Harry Crawford. His term ends June 30, 2004.

-- John Jensen, a Petersburg fisherman who has served on the Tanner and King Crab Task Force. His term expires June 30, 2005.

-- Juneau resident Rupert E. Andrews, a former sport fish director for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from 1969-1982. His term expires June 30, 2005.

-- Seafood marketing consultant Melvan E. Morris Jr. of Kodiak. Morris has a bachelor's degree in wildlife management and has worked as a biologist for both the state and territorial governments.

Three of the appointments will replace interim board members Oliver Holm, Eric Jordan and Andrew Szczesny, who were picked by Democrat Gov. Tony Knowles. Holm and Jordan were among more than 20 applicants Murkowski passed over in making the appointments on Thursday.

Knowles made his interim picks after the GOP-controlled Legislature rejected a host of appointments to policy-making boards just before the Democrat governor left office due to term limits.

Republicans abruptly adjourned two joint session in an effort to block confirmation. Nelson was among three fish board appointees passed over by lawmakers last June.

House Speaker-elect Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, who was among the Republican Majority that sought to reserve the appointments for Murkowski, said he is confident this confirmation will be smooth.

''Based on the assurances we received today I'm comfortable with them,'' Kott said after meeting with Murkowski.

Republican lawmakers, echoing criticism from the state's commercial fishing industry, have chided Knowles in past years for fish board appointments that they say favor sportfishing interests.

United Fishermen of Alaska, the state's largest commercial fishing group, endorsed Murkowski in the November election over Democrat challenger Fran Ulmer.

Still, United Fishermen President Robert Thorstenson Jr. said, Murkowski accepted only two of its four recommendations to the board on Thursday. The fishing association wants one more commercial fisherman picked to provide the board with an acceptable balance, Thorstenson said.

''We feel this gets us very close to a balanced Board of Fisheries. There are two seats up in May -- one of those needs to be a commercial fisherman,'' Thorstenson said.

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