Two months after a heated meeting, trawlers are again accusing Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten of short-changing their industry.
Gov. Bill Walker submitted nominations to fill two seats of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 9, sending waves of dissatisfaction throughout an industry segment that claims Walker’s administration is forcing it out of the process at the worst time possible.
Walker nominated Buck Laukitis of Homer and Theresa Peterson of Kodiak to replace Duncan Fields and David Long among the 11 voting members of the council, one of eight regional councils established by the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act to oversee federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the coast.
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce ultimately selects each member, choosing either the governor’s stated preference or from his list of alternates.
Of 11 voting members, six seats are reserved for Alaskans, including the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, currently held by Cotten. The remaining seats are reserved for the fish and game officials from Washington and Oregon, as well as a designated seat for the National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Region.
Fields has served his maximum of three consecutive, three-year terms. Long only served one term after being appointed by former Gov. Sean Parnell in 2013.
Since Walker announced the nominations, trawl industry representatives have voiced a steadily building frustration with the his administration’s fisheries policy.
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