Members of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, meeting virtually in the midst of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, have voted to postpone further 2020/2021 meetings until the 2021/2022 meeting cycle.
During its virtual meeting on Jan. 25 the board determined it would attempt to conduct all of the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 meetings next year. But during a special meeting held on Monday, March 8 the board revisited that decision, deciding instead to conduct only the 2020-2021 meetings.
The entire board spoke in opposition to doubling up on meetings and withdrew support from their previous action.
The board also noted that doubling up on meetings would have been impossible under the flat funding included in Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget and would have put extreme pressure on staff of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
During the special session, the fisheries board made note of a number of public comments submitted by United Fishermen of Alaska, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association and over two dozen other entities, as well as a letter from members of the Alaska House of Representatives in opposition to doubling up on meetings. Board members also noted the importance of in-person meetings as part of the board’s public process.
Board meetings now scheduled for the coming year include: the Prince William Sound finfish meeting beginning on Nov. 30, 2021; the Southeast/Yakutat finfish meeting in January 2022; and the hatchery meeting and statewide shellfish meeting in March 2022.
According to Glenn Haight, executive director of the board, meetings originally planned for the 2021-2022 cycle will now take place in 2022/2023, meetings planned for 2022/2023 will occur in 2023-2024, and so forth.
The 2022/2023 meeting system will include the Alaska Peninsula, Bering Sea, Aleutian Island and Chignik areas Pacific cod; Bristol Bay area finfish; Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim areas finfish; Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Island and Chignik area finfish, and statewide provisions for finfish.