State lawmakers from the Kenai Peninsula have banded together to question a recent Board of Fisheries proceeding, according to a press release.
An unexpected vote by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, which took place with little notice, decided to move the 2020 regulatory meeting from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage. The meeting was originally going to be held in Anchorage, but a March 2018 vote moved the meeting to the Kenai-Soldotna area, the Clarion previously reported.
In a Wednesday letter, the peninsula delegation outlined concerns the “Alaska Board of Fisheries may have intentionally circumvented the public input process that is normally required when deliberations on meeting locations are made.”
“Transparency, integrity and process are imperative in the effort to restore public trust,” said Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) in the release. “The people of Alaska deserve better. The public process and the Board’s own procedures were circumvented and Kenai Peninsula officials were disrespectfully misled at the January 18th meeting. The request from the entire Kenai Peninsula Legislative delegation is simple and united: Rescind the actions to move the 2020 BoF Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting from the Kenai and reschedule a meeting following BoF procedures. Rebuilding trust must include facing and hearing from the Alaskans we serve.”
At the start of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim finfish meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Board chair Reed Moriskey mentioned that the Upper Cook Inlet meeting location would be discussed. On Friday, the board reversed their March 2018 decision with a 4-3 vote, bringing the 2020 meeting back to Anchorage, the Clarion previously reported.
“There are not enough words to express my disappointment and frustrations with the Board of Fisheries. It is completely disingenuous to tell people who have driven to Anchorage from the Kenai Peninsula to testify that there would be no action taken regarding the 2020 UCI BoF meeting location. Then, to turn around and have the issue addressed after their departure,” said Representative Gary Knopp (R-Kenai/Soldotna).
The letter requests that the board allows the public adequate notice to revisit the issue.