When Jim Hubbard of Seward got a call from the state capitol a couple weeks ago asking if he would consider a position on the North Pacific Fishery Management council he was flabbergasted.
"It was the farthest thing from my mind at the time," said the seasoned commercial halibut and groundfish fishermen. "I didn't know what to do."
And he was still surprised when he got a call this week from the nation's capitol about his probable appointment to the council by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
"I don't play politics," he said.
But apparently that does not matter to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell.
Parnell forwarded the names of Hubbard and Duncan Fields of Kodiak to Washington, D.C., as his preferred nominations to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 15. Sam Cotten of Eagle River and Matt Moir of Kodiak were named as alternate nominees.
Hubbard is the owner of Kruzof Fisheries, his commercial fishing and on-vessel processing operation. He is a member of various commercial fishing organizations and serves on the Research Advisory Board to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
According to its Web site, the Council is one of eight regional councils established by the 1976 Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, later renamed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to oversee management of the nation's fisheries. The council oversees 900,000 square miles of ocean off Alaska's shores, and has the primary responsibility for managing pollock, cod, halibut, sole and other groundfish.
Hubbard said that after his shock subsided he mulled over the appointment because he's concerned about the life of Alaskan coastal communities.
"Fishing is a huge part of the Peninsula," he said, adding that it has a big impact on the Alaskan economy because it's the lifeblood of many communities.
Also, he said, there's some "hot issues" for the council coming up that he will be able to weigh in on concerning bycatch, the federal observer program for fishing boats and allocation.
"I really don't have personal opinions on them yet but it's the cost benefit ratio that concerns me," he said, adding that required vessel monitoring can be a financial burden to fishermen. The Council is "going to be defining how fisheries are going to be prosecuted in the future."
He said he plans to bring a perspective focused on local economies to the Council.
"My priority is to hopefully make decisions that look toward communities and Alaska as a priority," he said.
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce will be making the final appointment to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before its first meeting in October. The body meets five times throughout the year with the majority of meetings in Anchorage.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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