Alaska’s Board of Fisheries is considering moving its Southeast meeting back to Ketchikan, and it’s asking the public to weigh in.
The board — which sets the state’s subsistence, commercial and sport fishing rules — plans to discuss more than 150 proposed changes to Southeast Alaska finfish and shellfish regulations at the meeting, which was originally slated to be held in Ketchikan this month but was postponed due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the region.
The meeting was moved to Anchorage and pushed back two months, to early March. That ignited a firestorm of criticism from fishermen and subsistence harvesters, who said they were concerned their input would not be adequately heard. Some also pointed out that the postponed meeting could cut into commercial and subsistence harvesting seasons in Southeast.
But now, the Board of Fish says it’s mulling a do-over for the meeting’s location. In a statement released Monday, Board of Fish Executive Director Glenn Haight wrote that Ketchikan Rep. Dan Ortiz, who represents southern Southeast Alaska, worked with the city of Ketchikan to make the Ted Ferry Civic Center available in March.
Southeast Alaska’s Board of Fish meeting usually runs for 13 days, but the Ted Ferry Civic Center is only available for 11 days. If the meeting is moved back to Ketchikan, some of the 153 proposals set to be considered might need to be tabled until a statewide meeting of the board later in the spring.
The Board of Fish is asking for public comment on whether to hold the meeting in Ketchikan. The deadline to submit letters is Wednesday, Jan. 26, a day before the board is scheduled to meet to consider the location.
Comments can be emailed to board staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (907) 465-6094. Oral testimony will not be taken. The meeting will be streamed on the Board of Fisheries’ website at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27.