New fish board member named, not divulged

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Tuesday, May 19, 2015 10:53pm
  • News

The deadline for Alaska Governor Bill Walker to appoint a third person to an open Board of Fisheries seat came and went Tuesday with no announcement, though staff in his office said he has made his appointment.

However, when reached late Tuesday retired Fish and Wildlife Trooper Robert “Bob” Mumford, of Anchorage, said he had been appointed to the open spot.

Mumford, who is currently finishing a three-year term on Alaska’s Board of Game, will not immediately be subject to the legislative confirmation process that tanked the last person Walker appointed to the position — Soldotna conservationist Robert Ruffner.

Walker’s office has yet to announce the appointment.

“We will make an announcement first thing tomorrow,” wrote Walker’s press secretary Grace Jang in an email Tuesday evening.

Alaska’s Board of Fisheries is a seven-member board that sets management plans and allocations among users of the state’s fisheries.

Mumford, who has also been on the Big Game Commercial Services Board, said he did not have one specific issue he was looking forward to tackling.

“Right now, it is going to be studying up on a lot of issues that are going on right now. It’ll take me a little bit to get up to speed, although I’ve tried to follow the politics of it,” he said.

The open seat has become the subject of intense scrutiny since former board chairman Karl Johnstone stepped down early upon learning that he would not be reappointed to the position.

Walker first appointed Roland Maw, a longtime Kenai Peninsula resident and commercial fishermen who resigned the position one month into the confirmation process. He was charged with illegally obtaining resident fishing and hunting permits in Montana shortly thereafter.

Walker then appointed Ruffner who was targeted by an intense lobbying effort by sport and personal-use fishing organizations seeking to frame him as sympathetic to commercial fishing interests. Ruffner narrowly failed to be confirmed by the Legislature in April.

Walker’s latest pick said he was looking forward to serving on the board.

“I’m very neutral and I know there’s a division between commercial fisheries interest and sport interests,” he said. “I’m very neutral on that and I think that’s probably a good thing for this board right now. I hope to bring some good common sense and reasonableness and just a fresh voice to the board.”

The upcoming Board of Fisheries cycle focuses on finfish, including salmon. The board has meetings scheduled for Bristol Bay, Arctic, Yukon, Kuskokwim, Alaska Peninsula, Bearing Sea, and the Aleutian Chain next year.  

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens.

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