Fields withdraws name from fish board consideration

It was a quick dip into the state fisheries politics pool for Duncan Fields.

The Kodiak resident on Wednesday withdrew his name from consideration for the Board of Fisheries, a little less than two weeks after Gov. Bill Walker announced his nomination March 16, according to a press release from Walker’s office. Fields, a commercial salmon fisherman and former member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, had become a flashpoint of controversy among sportfishing groups because of his background in commercial fisheries.

Instead, Walker reappointed Anchorage resident Al Cain to the board. Austin Baird, Walker’s press secretary, said Cain had originally expressed an intent to step down but had come forward again in the past several weeks. Cain worked with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers for 25 years and for 10 years with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a criminal justice planner. He currently works as a contractor providing enforcement training and support.

Fields’ appointment drew the ire of a coterie of sportfishing groups, led by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, a Soldotna-based sportfishing advocacy nonprofit. In a letter send to the Legislature on March 19, a variety of groups — including the Alaska Outdoor Council and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission, expressed concern that Fields’ appointment would place too many people with commercial fishing interests on the board and would leave Anchorage without representation.

Kenai River Sportfishing Association sent out a call for support Wednesday morning, asking sportfishermen to oppose Fields’ nomination and write letters to the Legislature. According to a newsletter with the header “Fewer fish in the river if Gov’s appointment is confirmed,” the organization intended to travel to Juneau to ask legislators not to confirm Fields’ appointment.

Fields could not be reached for a comment by press time. Walker said in the press release he was grateful for Fields’ “willingness to joint the Board and for his graciousness in stepping aside.”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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