Group criticizes Walker on fisheries policy

JUNEAU — Fishermen, Alaska Native tribal members and clean water advocates on Wednesday criticized Gov. Bill Walker’s administration over its handling of fisheries and water issues.

The group held a teleconference to discuss concerns and call on the administration to prioritize “fish first” policies.

Chief among their criticisms was a bill that Walker proposed to give the state Legislature deciding power over which waters in the state could be classified as so-called outstanding natural resource waters and offered special protections. Alaska must establish a process for designating such waters under the federal Clean Water Act, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has said.

Yakutat Tlingit Tribal Council member Raymond Sensmeier said legislative involvement will make it “a totally political process rather than a scientific one.”

In a letter accompanying the bill, Walker wrote that a designation has the potential “to permanently limit development” and that given the far-reaching consequences the final authority should rest with the Legislature.

No waters in Alaska carry the designation, but there are pending nominations.

Bristol Bay fisherman Melanie Brown, of Juneau, said she disagrees with the governor’s message. She said she’s concerned that members of the Legislature would not allow nominations for protected water systems to succeed because they could limit industrial development.

“Lieutenant Governor Mallott and I remain committed to ensuring safe and sustainable fisheries and protecting the waterways throughout Alaska,” the governor said in a statement. “We want to make sure that the voices of all stakeholders are heard as we work with the legislature, per the Constitution, to establish sound fish policy.”

More in News

Two snowmachine-triggered snow slabs are seen below the weather station of Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Chris Flowers and the Chugach Avalanche Center)
Multiple avalanches in Turnagain Pass reported Friday

The center reported Saturday that current avalanche danger was considerable above 1,000 feet and moderate below 1,000 feet.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School district changes COVID policy for close contacts

The policy went into effect on Nov. 29

This 2010 photo shows the soon-to-be-replaced Tustumena come into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Saturday the state would be replacing the ferry. The replacement vessel has not yet been named, and a statewide contest will be held to name the new vessel, Dunleavy said. (Homer News File)
State moves ahead with replacement of Tustumena

The state has other plans for updating the marine highway.

A sign urging COVID-19 mitigation measures hangs at a free vaccination clinic at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways, on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Omicron variant spurs travel restrictions locally, nationally

It’s still unclear if the omicron strain is more dangerous than other COVID variants.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Something for everyone’

Library holds art and book sale fundraiser

Danny Dommek takes photos with Santa at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘And to all a good night’

Soldotna celebrates Christmas in the Park

The badge for the Kenai Police Department (Clarion file)
Walmart briefly evacuated after bomb threat

The investigation is ongoing.

The new Homer Police Station, as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. Members of the Homer Police Department officially moved into the building on Thursday. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
K-9 trooper team finds lost girl

A 12-year-old girl, poorly dressed for the elements, ran away from her downtown Homer home.

Most Read