I introduced legislation this week to adjust the way members of the Alaska Board of Fisheries are selected. Alaska’s Constitution mandates our state’s natural resources be managed for a sustainable yield to benefit Alaskans. To achieve this goal, state law grants the Board of Fisheries wide authority to open or close fisheries and implement management plans. Alaska’s fisheries are world renowned and we need to keep politics out of management decisions; and nominate a diverse group of qualified individuals to the board.
Senate Bill 268 would require the membership on the Board to consist of:
-three members from the commercial fishing industry
-three members from the sport fishing industry
-one member representing subsistence fisherman
Currently the board’s seven members serve staggered three-year terms. Each Governor has the opportunity to appoint multiple members of the board. Governors that serve two terms can appoint everyone on the board. The problem with this system of appointments is obvious. Depending on the Governor’s political affiliations, the Board of Fisheries can be stacked with people who support a specific political agenda. Too many people on the board who support one fishery over another is bad for the resource regardless of whether you are a commercial fisherman, a sport fisherman or a subsistence fisherman.
This bill will ensure a more balanced board and ensure that those in control of our fishery resource are not unfairly biased in favor of one industry over another. I will work with colleagues in the coming weeks to advance the bill through the legislative process.