Daily Sitka Sentinel

Fish Board Meets; Sitka Issue on List

    Some rock bands might travel with less gear than the Alaska Board of Fisheries, judging by the stacks of boxes and totes that got hauled into Ketchikan’s Ted Ferry Civic Center on Thursday.
    That’s when State of Alaska and City of Ketchikan staff members were busy readying the center for the 8:30 a.m. Friday start of the Board of Fisheries meeting on proposed changes to state management of salmon, herring and other finfish species in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat.
    The meeting opened this morning with Chairman Karl Johnstone ruling that member John Jensen had conflicts of interest on most of the Sitka herring proposals. The motion to overrule failed to pass on a 3-3 vote. The ruling was based on the fact that Jensen skippered a tender in the 2011 fishery and earned about $3,500, and plans to skipper the same boat in 2012.
    Jensen will still be allowed to participate in the net-length proposals for Sitka.
    The Board of Fisheries has a three-year cycle for considering proposed changes to a finfish or shellfish fisheries in a given region.
    The board’s most recent meeting regarding Southeast Alaska finfish management occurred in 2009 at Sitka.
    A total of 145 proposals have been submitted for the 2012 meeting by private individuals, fishing groups and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
    Topics range from the Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery and the allowable length of commercial seine boats to revising aspects of the gillnet and troll fisheries and the use of bait in the Klawock River.
    Three controversial proposals related to the Sitka sac roe fishery that are on the Board of Fish agenda failed to gain the support of Sitka’s Fish and Game Advisory Committee at a meeting in December. Two proposals would create a subsistence-only fishing area for herring in Sitka Sound. The third proposal would require subsistence users to get a permit to harvest herring eggs on branches in Sitka Sound.
    The meeting is scheduled to last 10 days and conclude March 5, according to the tentative agenda — which itself notes that it’s subject to change.
    “It is provided to give a general idea to the public of the board’s anticipated schedule,” it states. “The board will attempt to hold to this schedule; however, the board is not constrained by this tentative agenda.”
    Be that as it may, the Ketchikan meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries was set to start this morning at the Ted Ferry Civic Center with the introduction of the board’s seven members and staff.
    Fish and Game staff reports about the region’s fish stocks and fisheries are set today, followed by the start of testimony by members of the public and fish and game advisory committees.
    The board has set a sign-up deadline of 2 p.m. Saturday for individuals wanting to testify before the board. Testimony is anticipated to be limited to three minutes for individuals, and 10 minutes for representatives of advisory committees.
    Further information about the meeting – including the tentative agenda, proposals, Fish and Game staff and public comments – is available on the Alaska Board of Fisheries website at: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.

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