The Kenai City Council at its meeting this week passed a resolution supporting equitable, biology-based management of upper Cook Inlet fisheries.
After hearing from a number of commercial fisherman and other concerned citizens, and amending the resolution to be more inclusive of all aspects of the Cook Inlet fisheries, the council unanimously agreed that it was an appropriate action. They also asked the city manager, Rick Koch, to read it for them at the Board of Fish meeting later this month.
Local fishermen voiced their belief in the industry's importance in the area.
Paul Dale of Snug Harbor Seafoods said that anything the council could do to support the industry was a good idea.
"At a time like this, stability for our industry is critically important," he said. Later he added, "if we just stay the course, I think we'll be fine in this industry locally."
Likewise, Christine Brandt said the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association supported the resolution.
"(The) Cook Inlet commercial salmon industry is a critical part of the local economy," she said.
That organization was also concerned about the long-term viability of salmon in the area.
"We believe in healthy salmon runs managed biologically," she said.
David Martin, a Clam Gulch resident who has been fishing in the area since 1971, pointed out that before there was oil development in the inlet, there was fish. And after the wells run out, the fish can remain.
Jim Butler agreed.
"In addition to gas, which is a finite resource, we're a hub for fish," he said, referring to the Peninsula's role as a supplier of natural gas for Southcentral Alaska.
After hearing that testimony and making a few changes, members of the council all agreed that a statement of support was worthwhile.
Three council members mentioned potential conflicts of interest, but Mayor Pat Porter ruled that in each instance, they could vote on the resolution because it was fairly non-specific and didn't have a direct conflict with their involvement in the industry.
"I believe it's a pretty generic resolution," she told Councilman Brian Gabriel, who fishes commercially and does a small amount of fish processing.
Joe Moore and Bob Molloy also had potential conflicts. Moore fishes commercially, and both men have clients who are involved in the fishing industry -- Moore as a certified public accountant, and Molloy as a lawyer.
The resolution was brought forward by co-sponsors Gabriel and Moore and passed by unanimous consent. After the council directed Koch to read the resolution in Anchorage, Porter said she might also attend the meeting.
The council also showed its support for school meals by passing a resolution supporting state legislative efforts to provide more funding for school meals, and worked on an ongoing code clean-up effort by moving the fees for any given ordinance to one fee section, rather than in each individual ordinance. Because there is a potential for the fees to change when the council creates the new fee schedule, councilman Terry Bookey suggested that people purchase their cemetery plots now for a possibly cheaper rate.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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