JUNEAU – Legislators expressed their disappointment Friday following a meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries where they upheld their decision to keep the Southeast and Yakutat Finfish and Shellfish meeting in Anchorage, instead of the original location in Ketchikan. The decision will leave Southeast communities reliant on traveling to Anchorage to interface with the board as they make decisions that impact the Southeast.
“I’m deeply disappointed by the Fish Board’s decision to vary from their traditional process in determining their location for their meetings,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I- Ketchikan). “Based on the board members’ comments before their vote, it seems like their primary concerns with meeting in Ketchikan were based on lack of convenience with their own personal schedules rather than prioritizing the Board’s tradition of being accessible to the Alaskans who are most impacted by their decisions. I would certainly like to thank all the individual residents and entities of Ketchikan who bent over backwards to try and accommodate the needs of the Board in order to encourage them to decide to return their meetings back to the Southeast. While that effort ultimately did not succeed, folks in Ketchikan could not have done more.”
“Local input from key stakeholders is critical to the Board of Fisheries being able to make reasoned and well-thought out decisions,” said Speaker Louise Stutes (R- Kodiak, Yakutat). “I’m frustrated that this wasn’t observed in this case and hope it doesn’t become a pattern.”
“I understand there are many factors influencing the location of a Board of Fisheries meeting. I will always advocate for the Board to have their meetings in the region where the impacts of their decisions will be most heavily felt,” said Rep. Andi Story (D- Juneau).
“The Board of Fisheries decision to have a meeting about Southeast issues in Anchorage is an affront to Southeast residents and stakeholders,” added Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka).