Editor’s note: This is the seventh in the Morris Communications series, “The case for conserving the Kenai king salmon.”
It’s a lesson every elected official in Alaska learns firsthand sooner or later, and Gov. Sean Parnell got a fresh reminder this past April in the waning days of the legislative session when his nomination of Vince Webster to a second term on the Board of Fisheries was rejected by a 30-29 vote.
“Fish politics is pretty brutal,” Parnell said of the campaign against Webster, who was the only one of his 88 nominations to not receive confirmation.
Webster, a commercial Bristol Bay setnetter from King Salmon, was the target of an intense lobbying effort by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association that swayed several members of Parnell’s party into voting against him with a few declaring their decisions to be a protest against fisheries management in Cook Inlet that they assert favors commercial over recreational interests.
Alongside his Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell at his Anchorage office Dec. 4, Parnell said in an interview with the Journal that he has ramped up outreach after Webster was defeated. At the time, Parnell called the vote “disappointing, discouraging and disheartening,” but he has also moved on.