On the evening of Aug. 12, I sat and listened to a live teleconference of Board of Fish members meet to determine the location of the 2005 Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting. The decision they were to make was to hold the meeting in Anchorage or Soldotna. In my opinion this had nothing to do with Commercial vs. Sport but just simply a matter of impartiality and a chance for those of us who work five days a week to actually attend and participate when possible. Very few residents on the peninsula can afford the time or money to travel to Anchorage for much, if any, of the meetings. This is a real shame considering the vast majority of issues to be dealt with directly involve the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
The Board of Fish voted to hold the meeting in Anchorage by four votes "against" to two votes "for" the Soldotna meeting (one member was absent). The slam against peninsula residents came in the reasoning by those against the Soldotna meeting. According to those who voted no, security at the meeting and accommodations were their number one concern. We have been insulted and basically found unfit for the meeting by people who believe the meeting could not take place here in a safe, conducive and constructive manner and the "accommodations might not measure up to the Marriott!" It should be noted that the chair and vice chair voted for the meeting to be in Soldotna on the solid grounds that it could take place within budget constraints and the perception of impartiality by the board would be appreciated.
I, for one, appreciate those who voted yes and commend them. To those who voted no, I would like them to think about the hundreds of hours of fish and game meetings we hold here in Soldotna where some of the most contentious topics arise and not once have we required any security of any kind. As for the accommodations, we currently do not have a "Marriott" but there are a multitude of exceptional facilities for one to stay at right here in Soldotna (all within a few minutes of the Soldotna Sports Center). I have enjoyed great meals at most all our local establishments and found them to be just as favorable as any facility in Anchorage and without the crowds.
Sen. Tom Wagoner worked hard to help those of us who wanted to see the meeting take place here and he deserves a big "thank you" from us. Our local sport-fishing group that supposedly supports "Joe Fisherman" supports holding the meeting in Anchorage. I am a member of KRSA and on their fisheries committee. I was never contacted to have any input in the matter so their input did not reflect my feelings on the matter. As a known local who represents "Joe Fisherman" and has served on our local Fish and Game Advisory Committee, attended several Board of Fish meetings to testify, I am upset to say the least. I urge all who can attend the meetings to do so as it will be of vital importance to our fisheries and their future management.
To those who voted for the meeting to be held in Anchorage, you are welcome to spend more time "down here" and less time "up there" and you may find you actually like it better!
Porter W. Pollard
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