Concerns over Governor's nominee for AK Board of Fisheries
There is controversy over Governor Bill Walker's appointment of a new member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The Governor has chosen commercial fisherman Duncan Fields to fill the spot for a three-year term.
Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, hopes lawmakers vote no.
"This nomination by the Governor stacks the board with a clear majority voice for commercial fishing interests," Gease said on Thursday.
Gease says the seven-member board has traditionally been made up of three spots for commercial fishing, three for sport and personal use and one seat for subsistence.
"So if you have a clear stacked board of just commercial fishing interests, then the tendency is for them to vote in their own interest. And we're very fearful of that. So anybody across the state, in non-commercial fishery, should be worried about this appointment," he said.
Fields says that he's one of seven people who will assess issues and make "reasoned decisions relative to the issue at hand."
"I am a commercial fisherman but my professional representation has been much broader than that as well. I worked with rural communities in the Gulf of Alaska and I frequently advocated for the subsistence fisherman, sport fisherman and sport charter operators in those communities, as well as a commercial fisherman, " he added.
Fields also says he has worked well with other past board of fisheries members with different views on fishing.
"Don't make the presumption that just because somebody has a specific reputation, representational background, that person is going to always vote that way on every issue."
Fields added that the board needs to work on predator issues, such as northern pike in the Susitna Drainage that impact king salmon. He said that's an issue where sport fishermen and commercial fisherman have a lot of commonality.
The legislature must confirm Fields to fill a three-year term starting in July.
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