KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The Alaska Marine Highway Reshaping Work Group held a two-hour teleconference meeting on Thursday afternoon with Alaska Native tribal representatives.

The work group has been tasked with submitting recommendations to the governor regarding operation of the Marine Highway. According to the work group website, "recommendations from the Work Group may include ports of call; levels of service; tariffs; contracting options; fleet size, type, maintenance, and replacement; governance and labor contract requirements."

Group members revisited discussions about structural changes that could be made to how the marine highway is funded so that it might service communities more reliably.

Meeting participants suggested that forward funding could help reduce some of the system's budget uncertainty, as marine highway funds can vary each year based on the attitudes of the Legislature and the governor.

A new, independent body to manage marine highway funds could also help, some participants suggested. During a previous meeting, group member Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak suggested that having a board or similar nonpolitical entity could help marine highway administrators better plan future operations.

Participants expressed an interest in exploring issues related to vessel maintenance in the future.

The next work group meeting will be held on Thursday at 2 p.m., according to the agenda. More information and resources regarding the work group can be found at its website,