Panel talks to fish board nominees, asks about salmon plan

  • By Molly Dischner
  • Monday, April 13, 2015 10:41pm
  • News

JUNEAU — A Senate committee held a hearing Monday on the governor’s nominees for the state Board of Fisheries, but the panel held off on taking action.

State Affairs committee chair Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, said the panel’s members would likely sign paperwork to advance them on Tuesday, however.

Soldotna resident Robert Ruffner, who is currently the executive director of the nonprofit Kenai Watershed Forum, was appointed in March to a seat formerly held by Karl Johnstone. Committee members questioned him for about an hour before taking public testimony, asking him about his views on the management of Cook Inlet salmon.

Ruffner said he generally agreed with the current management efforts. He also said he supported several other actions by the board in recent years, including shutting down setnetters and changing other commercial regulations to try to ensure more salmon reach the Matanuska-Susitna valley streams.

But some lawmakers and members of the public said they don’t think current management practices are working, and they were concerned that he agreed with them.

Several fishing groups from around the state, along with guides and sport-, commercial, personal-use and subsistence fishing organizations, have supported Ruffner’s appointment in previous testimony and letters.

But two prominent organizations submitted letters opposing his confirmation on Saturday. Among other concerns, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and Southeast Alaska Guides Organization said they wanted to see a nominee who more strongly represented sport-fishing interests.

Ruffner told the committee he participates in personal-use and sport fisheries, and he sees them as important to Kenai Peninsula communities.

The committee also considered the governor’s other appointee, Orville Huntington.

Huntington, a Huslia resident, is generally considered a representative of subsistence-fishing interests and has served on the board since 2012. His hearing, including public testimony supporting his continued service, took less than 10 minutes.

The joint session of the House and Senate scheduled for Friday to vote on all of the governor’s appointments was canceled Monday.

More in News

Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. With less than two weeks to go before Alaska’s Aug. 16 election, the three candidates seeking to temporarily replace Congressman Don Young in Alaska’s U.S. House seat have made clear their positions on abortion. (Peninsula Clarion/Jake Dye)
Here’s where Alaska’s U.S. House candidates stand on access to abortion

Palin and Begich oppose congressional efforts to guarantee abortion rights, Peltola supports abortion access

The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020, near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Russian River Campground to be closed until June 2023 beginning next week

Resurfacing and reinforcement work will occur along about 1 mile of the Russian River Campground Road

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hikers rescued near Cooper Landing

They became trapped in a steep ravine after taking a canoe over Kenai Lake and climbing a mountain, troopers say

Vials of empty monkeypox vaccines sit at a table at Seattle Central College in Seattle, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (Daniel Kim/The Seattle Times via AP)
State announces two-tiered system for monkeypox vaccine

Due to low availability, the monkeypox vaccine is administered only in response to potential exposure

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, leads an informational town hall about ranked choice voting inside the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Carpenter holds forum on ranked choice voting

Don’t “overthink it,” representative says

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River dipnetting closed; Kasilof to close Sunday

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery is reportedly slow, but fish are being caught

Silver salmon hang in the Seward Boat Harbor during the 2018 Seward Silver Salmon Derby. (Photo courtesy of Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Seward Silver Salmon derby runs Aug. 13-21

Last year’s derby featured 1,800 contestants competing across eight days

Rayna Reynolds tends to her cow at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Animals take the stage at 4-H expo

Contestants were judged on the quality of the animal or showmanship of the handler

Emily Matthews and Andy Kowalczyk pose outside the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
AmeriCorps volunteers aid Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

The 10-month commitment pushed them outside of comfort zones

Most Read