Update: Link to agenda and meeting added.

The 13-member bycatch task force (members listed below) created by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in November will hold its first two-hour online meeting on Friday, Jan. 28, starting at 9 am. An agenda and link for the public to either view or participate was published on Tuesday, Jan.25.

The task force includes a mix of state officials, fishery managers, commercial and sport fishermen, and other fisheries stakeholders. Their mission through Nov. 30 is to “study what impacts bycatch has on Alaska fisheries” and “make valuable recommendations to help better understand and address the issues of bycatch.”

A note on the content of the first meeting this week, according to a task force member: “The first meeting will be to determine future meeting dates and introduce ourselves to each other. I’m not sure we’ll discuss any substantive issues.”

Meanwhile, the “pre-approved” 2022 bycatch numbers for the Bering Sea trawl fleet set by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council are as follows:

  • King salmon: 45,700 fish (there is no hard cap for chums or other salmon)
  • Halibut: 5.48 million pounds (for the Gulf of Alaska: 3.76 million pounds)
  • Herring: 6 million pounds
  • Snow Crab (opilio): 5.99 million individuals (equal to 7.8 million pounds; the catch for crabbers is 5.6 million pounds)
  • Tanner Crab (bairdi): 3.07 million individuals (6,140,000 pounds; crabbers can take 1 million pounds)
  • Red King Crab: 80,160 individuals (520,000 pounds; the fishery is closed to crabbers for the first time in 25 years)
  • There is no bycatch cap for sablefish (blackcod) in the Bering Sea or gulf. The gulf also does not have any bycatch caps for any species of crab.

The first 11 members of the task force to be named publicly are:

John Jensen, Chair – Jensen has more than a half-century of experience in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. He is serving his seventh term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries and was appointed to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in 2018.

Tommy Sheridan, Vice-chair – Sheridan will hold the public member seat on the task force and fills the role of vice-chair. He is the owner of Sheridan Consulting and is a member of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.

Brian Gabriel – Gabriel has served as mayor of Kenai since 2016 and previously held a seat on the city council for six years.

Linda Kozak – Kozak occupies the halibut fisher seat in addition to running a fisheries consulting service. She also serves on the board of United Fishermen of Alaska.

Raymond May – May fills the salmon fisher seat. He owns and operates a commercial fishing vessel out of Kodiak Island, and is a council member for the Native Village of Port Lions.

Erik Velsko – Velsko will occupy the seat reserved for a crab fisherman. He has worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska since 1997 and is a member of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Advisory Panel.

Mike Flores – Flores has owned and operated a sport-fishing charter business in Ninilchik since 1994. He is also a board member on the state of Alaska’s Big Game Commercial Services Board.

Stephanie Madsen – Madsen is the executive director for the At-Sea Processors Association.

Ragnar Alstrom – Alstrom holds the Community Development Quota representative seat on the task force. He is the executive director for the Yukon Delta Development Association.

Kevin Delaney – Delaney is the founder of Delaney Outdoors, a fisheries consulting firm he opened in 2010. He was the director for the Division of Sport Fish, Alaska Department of Fish and Game from 2005 to 2010.

Duncan Fields – Fields fills the seat reserved for an organization representing Alaska Natives. He is a long-time resident of Kodiak Island and owns a consulting firm that represents two Native corporations.

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Laine Welch is an independent Kodiak, Alaska-based fisheries journalist. Click here to send her an email.

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