The rationale was sound for postponing the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting that was scheduled to start this past Tuesday in Ketchikan.

With travel schedules in disarray and COVID-19 case counts rising fast — including among key personnel who, as a result, would have been unable to participate — the board and Alaska Department of Fish and Game were absolutely correct to postpone the in-person event that was anticipated to involve more than 200 people from around Alaska over a 12-day period at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

It couldn’t have been an easy decision.

The meeting, which will be focused on proposed changes to state management policies regarding finfish and shellfish in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat, already had been postponed from a year earlier because of COVID-19 concerns.

That means important fishery-management decisions for Southeast Alaska are being delayed again. It’s not yet known when or where the meeting will occur, although the postponement announcement noted that the board fully intends to finish its current meeting cycle in 2022.

We would hope that the Southeast Alaska meeting be rescheduled in a time and location that most, if not all, of the stakeholders who would have attended a January meeting in Ketchikan can participate in. Board of Fisheries meetings are very much in-person events, traditionally scheduled to accommodate stakeholder participation in the process.

Aside from the official business, a Board of Fisheries meeting benefits the host community, too. Lodging, meals, transportation and incidental spending assists the local economy. Attendees from other areas get to know Ketchikan a bit. Local residents who might not be able to attend if the event were elsewhere have a chance to participate, listen in and learn about the species and fisheries that are so important to our region.

We encourage the Alaska Board of Fisheries and Alaska Department of Fish and Game to reschedule the Southeast Alaska finfish and shellfish meeting in Ketchikan. The community was prepared to be hosting the meeting now, and certainly would look forward to fulfilling that host role at a later time in 2022.