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This is a day of hope as the second regular session of the 30th Alaska State...

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12/19/2017
Public participation

An extraordinary aspect of fishery management in Alaska is our Alaska Board of Fisheries process.

Comprising seven individuals appointed by Alaska’s governor and confirmed by the state Legislature, the Alaska Board of Fisheries is the state’s regulatory authority that makes allocative and regulatory decisions about state commercial, sport and personal use fisheries.

A key aspect of the board process is the participation by the public. The Board of Fisheries considers proposals for fishery management changes submitted by individual citizens, in addition to those by gear groups, advisory committees and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It obtains recommendations regarding specific proposals from local advisory committees — of which the state has more than 80.

Also, the Alaska Board of Fisheries conducts its meetings in the areas affected by its decisions, instead of meeting in a single location such as Anchorage or Juneau. Meeting outside of those cities allow more people to be involved with the process when it affects them.

In January, the Alaska Board of Fisheries will meet to discuss proposals for changes to the state-managed shellfish and finfish fisheries in Southeast Alaska. These are topics discussed by the board every three years, in locations that rotate in the region. The 2018 Southeast Alaska finfish and shellfish meeting will be in Sitka.

It will be a busy meeting. The board is scheduled to consider a total of 153 proposals during the 13-day meeting that’s set to start on Jan. 11 and conclude by Jan. 23.

Proposals on the agenda touch upon the full suite of state-managed fisheries in Southeast Alaska — ranging from commercial salmon trolling, purse seining and sea cucumber harvesting to the sport fisheries for Dungeness crab, salmon and rockfish. There’s even a proposal to start a commercial purse seine fishery for squid in Southeast Alaska.

The Board of Fisheries process allows for public comment on the proposals. These comments can occur in written form before and during the meeting, and via public testimony during the meeting itself.

We encourage folks in the Ketchikan area to look through the proposals, which are available online at: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.

The proposals that would affect local livelihoods and harvest opportunities — in either positive or negative ways — should draw comments from the local community.

We should be making good use of an Alaska Board of Fisheries process that’s been established with public participation in mind.