Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced four appointments to the Board of Fisheries that has one lawmaker concerned about an imbalance she says favors sport fishers over commercial.

Dunleavy reappointed Israel Payton, of Wasilla, and appointed Marit Carlson-Van Dort, of Anchorage; Gerad Godfrey, of Eagle River; and Karl Johnstone, of Anchorage.

They fill four open seats, two each from expiring terms and from resignations by Al Cain and Orville Huntington, who was nominated for a seat on the Board of Game.

Johnstone and Carlson Van-Dort will assume their roles immediately, Godfrey assumes his seat July 1, and Payton continues serving.

These nominees will likely get a confirmation hearing with the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

Committee Chair Louise Stutes says with these nominations she worries the seven-person board may be tilted toward sports fishing interests over commercial.

“That board should be equally distributed,” she said. “That’s the intent of the board, is to have input from all sides and not have it weighted one way or the other, so certainly that causes me pause.”

Last year, Duncan Fields, a former wildlife trooper, withdrew his name from consideration after the Legislature faced intense pressure from the sport fishing groups.

Dunleavy also made three Board of Game appointments. They are Huntington; Jerry Burnett, of Juneau; and Al Barrette, of Fairbanks.

Huntington replaces Karen Linnell; Burnett fills a spot left by Teresa Sager-Albaugh; Barrette replaces Nat Turner.

Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow says the governor's office believes the nominees reflect prospective balance among the fishing interests. In a prepared statement, Dunleavy said:

“The following individuals are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their respective fields, and I believe they will have Alaskan’s best interests in mind while serving on the Board of Fish and Board of Game.”

All nominations, however, are subject to legislative confirmation. Their names have been forwarded to the Legislature for confirmation hearings and a vote. A confirmation vote takes place in a joint hearing between the House and Senate. These usually occur shortly after a session’s 90-day mark, but no date has been announced.

April 14 will be day 90 of the 2018-2019 legislative session.

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