Seemingly out of nowhere, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy last week named fly-fishing enthusiast John Wood to the state Board of Fisheries, to which industry stakeholders responded with a collective, “Who?”

“Most of the response I’ve heard from UFA members is, ‘Who is he?’ People are not familiar with him,” said United Fishermen of Alaska Executive Director Frances Leach in an interview with Alaska Public Media.

Wood, who is an attorney and local chairman of the Alaska Republican party, was a legislative staffer for then Sen. Dunleavy from 2012-14 and focused on northern Cook Inlet salmon allocation issues. Wood also has participated in the Mat-Su Fish and Game Advisory board, according to a press release.

“Since that point in time, I’ve served on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Board of Fish and Game as well. Between that and the amount of time I spent on it with Sen. Dunleavy’s office, I got pretty familiar with the issues as they pertain to this region,” Wood told Alaska Public Meda. “That doesn’t mean I’m up to snuff on other regions of the state, and that’s something I’ll have to work to catch up on.”

The timing of the appointment also raised eyebrows, because the Legislature won’t be able to confirm him until next year when the regular session resumes. Meanwhile, Wood will be making decisions starting this fall on Cook Inlet regulatory issues when the Board of Fisheries begins its meeting cycle in October.

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

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