Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2002

Advisory group's representative selection process is flawed

I read the letter to the editor from Brent Johnson on Jan. 11. His stated rumor about the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee being a den of commercial fishers who plot the demise of the real world is slightly overstated.

The advisory committee is not interested in destroying the entire world, just its opposition.

The opposition is anyone who objects to scooping up 95 percent of the harvestable salmon in Cook Inlet and selling them to nonresidents in Japan.

For all you folks out there who cannot understand why sport fishermen don't want to serve on this advisory committee, pay attention.

If I were to form a group of local fishermen to advise the Alaska Board of Fish as to what the Kenai-Soldotna-area opinion was on fisheries issues and called it the ABC Advisory Committee, then I was to set up 10 seats titled commercial fisher, sport fisher, bow hunter, gun hunter, subsistence hunter, subsistence fisher, personal-use hunter, personal-use fisher, fisheries biologist and wildlife biologist, then I told you that all seats were filled with people who really did at one time function like their title but all made the majority of their income from sport fishing activities, I can personally guarantee you that the commercial fishing industry would not give the group any credibility.

Commercial fishing would call the group a front for the sport fishing industry as it attempted to unjustly influence the Board of Fish. If the ABC Committee approached Brent Johnson and asked him to take the commercial seat while the other nine seats were filled by sportfishers, I dare to guess that he would not want the seat.

Now you know why you have sport fish seats which are unfilled.

If you want those seats filled all you have to do is ratio out the committee seats according to the actual population here in the Kenai-Soldotna area.

You take the 25,000 or so local residents and send out a questionnaire sample survey to discover how people are making their annual income.

Then you assign committee representative titles according to reality.

Then you select committee members whose federal income tax returns don't prove that they are really a member of another committee titled seat.

If the committee wants credibility, this is how you can get it. The reason we don't currently see this kind of selection process is because the commercial fishing industry cannot "stack the fisheries USE group deck" with this process.

You can complain about the non-participating public, but the real problem is not the public, they are only reacting the same way you would if the fisheries USE roles were reversed.

The problem is an unfair and very flawed representative selection process.

Don Johnson, Soldotna

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