Funds on hold until new seafood board names members

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) A new Alaska seafood marketing board already has about $8 million in federal funds, but the money can't be touched until its members are appointed.

Bill Hines, an international coordinator at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, has been nominated to head the new Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board. His confirmation, and the appointment of nine other board members, awaits approval by the U.S. commerce secretary.

The board's focus and process will remain nebulous until the appointments are official, Hines said Thursday.

The board will operate as a private entity to distribute federally funded grants to members of the Alaska seafood industry for marketing. It will be separate from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, a state agency charged with marketing the state's marine resources.

Gov. Frank Murkowski has pledged about $18 million of a $50 million salmon revitalization strategy toward marketing. That money will be made available to industry members for their own marketing.

The funding and creation of the board was included in a federal appropriations bill in February, said Melanie Alvord, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. The money comes from the Saltonstall-Kennedy fund, which is financed through taxes on U.S. seafood imports.

The board will include three fishermen, two processors, a member of the state Legislature and people involved in niche marketing, the transportation sector and large-scale food service, according to United Salmon Association President Bruce Schactler, who has been involved in the creation of the panel.

''We expect continual funding for several years to come to keep this board moving,'' Schactler told the Juneau Empire. ''This board will just review grants. This will be 100 percent grant money to industry that needs it, whether they are a gillnetter out of Haines, a processor out of Sand Point or a troller out of Sitka or anybody in between.''

Hines said he expects the appointments to be made soon, and once that happens the real work can begin.

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