Assembly to address selection to NPFMC

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2000

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will get a chance to comment on the governor's recent appointments to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at its meeting tonight.

A resolution being co-sponsored by Homer assembly member Chris Moss, a commercial fisher, will be targeted at how Gov. Tony Knowles makes appointments to the powerful federal board. The measure was spawned in the wake of the governor's appointment of controversial sport fishing advocate Bob Penney to the board last week.

"It's not so much about Bob Penney. It's not going to be directed toward 'Bob Penney is a bad person,'" Moss said. "We just want the governor to put (appointees') names before the people affected by his decisions."

Moss said Knowles did not follow the tenets of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act in making the appointment.

"The governor has just come out with these names, rather than follow the guidelines," he said.

Moss said that in one section of the act it says the governor may not submit a name until he determines the quality of the candidate.

Governor spokesperson Bob King disputed Moss' interpretation of that passage.

"Nowhere in the qualifications does it include taking a poll," King said. "One of the important values the governor wants to see (in board appointees) is diversity of opinion, and sometimes that means going against what is perceived by some as conventional wisdom."

But Moss said he would just like the governor to take a little more time with his appointments.

"In a lot of these cases, it would be nice if the governor came out and ran some of these names by the groups involved," he said.

Moss, a co-sponsor of the resolution with Jack Brown of Nikiski and Drew Scalzi of Homer, said he doesn't know what to expect when the measure goes before the full assembly.

"It will be interesting," Moss said. "The case will be presented (at the meeting), and I haven't lobbied anyone on it."

Assembly member Pete Sprague of sports-fisher rich Soldotna said Monday he could not comment on the measure since he had not seen it yet. He did have something to say about Penney's appointment, though.

"I would prefer someone who is not a lightning rod for controversy," Sprague said.

He added that he hoped the resolution would address the appointment process rather than the appointee.

Moss said he did not have a problem with a sport fishing advocate occupying a seat on the council.

"I cannot emphasize enough that this is not about the designation of a sports fisherman for that seat," he said. "The way the council is going, that's entirely appropriate, but with that first person getting in there, there should be a dialogue about it."

Since the recommendations already have been forwarded to U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley, King said it would be more appropriate to direct appeals to the secretary.

Penney's appointment must still be approved by Daley and a final appointment is expected by late June. Also appointed by the governor is outgoing Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner David Benton. Knowles also nominated a pair of alternates for each of the two seats. Penney's alternates are Ninilchik halibut charter boat skipper Tim Evers and sports-fishing enthusiast Phil Cutler of Anchorage. Benton's two alternates are Jev Shelton and Jim Bacon, commercial fishers from Juneau.

Alaskans hold six of the 11 seats on the council, which regulates fishing within 200 miles of Alaska's shores. Appointments are for three years and begin Aug. 10.

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