As mentioned last week, I committed to learning more about Alaska’s Board of Fisheries (BOF) as it works through proposals at its 2017 meeting. The meeting is not everyone’s cup of tea, as many of my sport fishing friends have given up on the BOF due to the political nature of managing our fisheries.
You see, the BOF is made up of seven members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature. While the BOF’s website states board members are appointed “on the basis of interest in public affairs, good judgment, knowledge, and ability in the field of action of the board, with a view to providing diversity of interest and points of view in the membership”, many believe that the outcomes of BOF meetings are determine on election night, not at the BOF meetings.
In front of the 2017 board was Proposal 85, asking the BOF to throw out the existing Central District Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan. While the BOF didn’t adopt this proposal, it did throw the drift fleet a bone by passing Record Copy 146, giving the drift fleet an additional 12-hour opening area wide during the peak of the mixed stock salmon movement through the Central District. In 12-hours, the drift fleet has the potential to catch 50,000 sockeye and 5,000 coho salmon, many of them headed to the Susitna River.
Howard Delo is an outdoor writer for the Mat-Su Valley’s local paper, The Frontiersman, and also sits on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission (MSBFWC). The MSBFWC represents the interests of the Borough in the conservation and allocation of fish, wildlife and habitat. Mr. Delo attended the BOF meeting and wrote an excellent piece explaining how Record Copy 146 came to be and the impact it will have on the Susitna Valley’s salmon stocks. Check out Mr. Delo’s article here.
Another great resource I came across during the BOF meeting is a MSBFWC document titled It Takes fish to Make Fish: Keep the Corridor Open. The document was created in defense of the Cook Inlet’s Conservation Corridor and is full a detailed maps and interesting charts regarding salmon runs in the Susitna and Knik Rivers. I wish I had seen this prior to the BOF meetings.
While I have learned much from news stories, I feel there is so much that could be learned, and accomplished, by attending the meetings in person. But that, my friends, is a post for a later day – one that may fire up some sport anglers.
Do you have an opinion on the outcomes of this year’s Board of Fisheries meeting? Let me know by sharing it in the comments below.
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