Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fisheries Board Appointment Still Undetermined

Veteran Bristol Bay commercial fisherman Vince Webster will serve out his second term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, but won’t get a third term appointment recommended by Gov. Sean Parnell.

State legislators failed to approve the appointment in early April, after pressure from members of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

The historic pattern would be for the governor to look for another board member from Bristol Bay, where there are a lot of fishing interests that have no representation, said Jason Hooley, state director of boards and commissions.

As of late April, seven people had put in their applications, to be considered along with other past applicants for the board, Hooley said.

Whoever is selected will begin their service on July 1, and then pending approval by the Legislature when it begins its next session in January, continue on the board, he said.
Legislators in early April voted down Parnell’s reappointment of Webster to the Board of Fisheries, while approving the reappointment of Thomas Kluberton, Talkeetna.

Parnell said it was “disappointing, discouraging and disheartening when bad information or politics prevent a qualified Alaskan from serving our state.”

The governor had urged legislators to contact Webster personally and listen to his responses to allegations from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association regarding the new late-run Kenai River Chinook salmon escapement goal, which angered KRSA. In fact, the board’s vote on lower escapement goals for Kenai River Chinook salmon was unanimous.
Parnell said he personally phoned Webster after the vote to thank him for volunteering six years of service on the board.

KRSA had been critical of Webster’s reappointment and lobbied heavily against it, urging its members to contact their legislators to oppose legislative confirmation of the governor’s reappointment.

KRSA was angered when the Board of Fisheries moved in March to lower escapement goals for Kenai River late run Chinook salmon. Webster, who works for Katmai National Park, and fishes commercially, had the support of most rural and coastal legislators, but was opposed mostly by legislators from the Anchorage area and Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

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