Hearing set, public comments sought on Board of Fisheries appointees
When Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his appointees of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in April, his choice of a current Pebble Partnership employ alarmed some fishermen, and the legislature ended session before hearings were held on the appointees.
Now, Rep. Louise Stutes, a Republican from Kodiak and chair of the House Special Committee on Fisheries, has scheduled a public hearing on the appointees for Sept. 3.
Gov. Dunleavy named Abe Williams of Anchorage and McKenzie Mitchell of Fairbanks to the board.
While controversy over Board of Fish appointees generally stems from their ties and perceived preference for either sportfishing or commercial fishing interests, Williams' appointment to the board has drawn criticism from both sport and commercial fishing groups because of his work advocating for the Pebble Mine.
Williams currently works as the Director of Regional Affairs for the Pebble Partnership and is the second Dunleavy appointment to the board to have worked for Pebble. Marit Carlson-Van Dort worked as Pebble's Director of Regional Affairs until 2018, and she was appointed to the Board of Fish in 2019.
Stutes says that in addition to having a current Pebble employee on the board, there should also be public input on the geographic make up of the board.
John Jensen of Petersburg is currently the only member of the board who lives in a coastal community.
"It's disappointing to me to see the lack of representation on such a significant board," Stutes said. "I think it's critically important that the public have the opportunity to weigh in."
The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Legislative Information Office in Anchorage on Sept. 3. Stutes says the public will be able to call in to voice their opinion, or send written comments.
Written comments can be emailed to email@example.com.
The Board of Fisheries next meeting is a work session in October. Even if they have not been confirmed by the legislature yet, appointees can still participate in board meetings.
The legislature has until the start of the 32nd Legislative Session to act on the Governor's appointments to state board and commissions.