Much to the dismay of some local anglers and commercial fisherman, Gov. Sean Parnell's recent reappointments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries do not include anyone from the central Kenai Peninsula.
Current fisheries board members Bill Brown, of Juneau, and John Jensen, of Petersburg, were reappointed to their seats last week.
Susan Jeffrey, of Kodiak, a commercial salmon fisher, was appointed to take the seat of former member Mel Morris, also of Kodiak, who served on the board since 2003.
"We're just a little upset with the fact that the governor didn't see that there's an imbalance on the board," said Paul Shadura, former Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association executive director who now represents the South K-Beach Independent Setnet Association. "We have individuals from Anchorage and Talkeetna, the Mat-Su Valley but we don't have any representatives from the Kenai Peninsula. We rarely do and when we do they tend to be of the sports or charter persuasion. It's disturbing."
Coming off the 14-day Board of Fisheries meeting on Upper Cook Inlet finfish issues that seriously restricted commercial fishing time, Shadura said he feels like Kenai Peninsula communities are not heard in the process.
"It's obvious for the attendees that the process doesn't quite work as the public would expect it to work," he said.
Brent Johnson, a commercial setnet fisherman from Clam Gulch, said it is way past time to see a Cook Inlet commercial fisherman on the board.
"A couple years ago Gov. Palin appointed me to the Board of Fisheries, but the Legislature didn't confirm my appointment," Johnson said. "I would have been the first Cook Inlet commercial fisher to serve on the Board of Fisheries since Dan Garroutte of Ninilchik served from 1975 to 1980."
He said he was disappointed Parnell did not pick Dwight Kramer, a local angler, whose name was put forward by some fishing organizations.
Kramer himself said he was very disappointed with the re-appointment of board member Brown.
"In my opinion, the nature of the current board is ethically corrupted by a majority voting group of four who are aligned with Kenai River Sportfishing and their agenda to promote the guided sport industry at the expense of local commercial fishing families, private mom and pop anglers, and conservation of the resource itself," he said. "I believe this appointment illustrates that the governor and his staff now willingly own responsibility for the ethical egregiousness that overshadows the current BOF process."
But Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sport Fishing Association did not see the appointments that way.
"I think the governor did a good job on the reappointments to the board with Dr. Brown and John Jensen," he said. "I'm looking forward to working with the new appointment from Kodiak."
"I think in terms of appointments, there are people who have knowledge of Southcentral Alaska," Gease added.
The goal of the Board of Fisheries is to conserve and develop of the state's fishery resources by setting regulations for the sport, commercial, subsistence and personal-use fisheries. The board sets management policy and makes allocation decisions for the Department of Fish and Game to implement.
The governor's appointments are subject to confirmation by the Legislature, and if confirmed, their terms of service begin July 1.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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