ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles has appointed one of his biggest political backers to a position on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Bob Penney of Anchorage is a strong supporter of sportfishing interests.
The management council regulates major commercial fisheries off Alaska, and sportfishermen have long complained the council did not have a member to speak for their interests.
That complaint heard particularly loudly this winter when the council placed a catch limit on the state's growing halibut charter industry.
''We may have lost a skirmish, but I think we've won a major battle now,'' said Homer charter captain Bob Ward.
Penney is a millionaire Soldotna real estate developer and tireless advocate of sportfishing rights. He is founder of the Kenai River Classic, an annual fund-raiser in which lobbyist and corporate leaders pay $5,000 apiece to catch king salmon alongside politicians like Knowles and U.S. senators.
Knowles also nominated David Benton, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to the board.
Benton has sat on the council for years as an alternate for the commissioner, who by law holds a seat. He plans to retire from the department and was nominated for the seat of outgoing member Richard Lauber.
Penney was nominated for the seat now occupied by Joe Kyle, a Juneau fisheries consultant whom Knowles did not nominate for a second three-year term.
The North Pacific council regulates commercial fishing in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off Alaska between three and 200 miles offshore. It has 11 voting members who are a mix of state and federal fishery managers and industry players. The Alaska governor nominates five members, who ultimately must be appointed by the secretary of commerce. It is one of eight councils for various areas off the U.S. Coast.
The North Pacific council spends most of its time drafting recommendations for management of bottom fisheries like pollock and cod, together worth perhaps $1 billion a year, plus other important commercial species like halibut.
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