Gov. Bill Walker’s nomination of a Kodiak resident to the Board of Fisheries has hit a strong tide of opposition.
A letter to Alaska legislators opposing Duncan Fields was signed by 16 sports and outdoor groups this week. They object because Fields, a Kodiak commercial fisherman, would replace an Anchorage sports fisher on the board that they want to be balanced between competing uses for a treasured resource.
The groups said the seven-member board should balance not only regional representation but also have three members who have interests in commercial fishing, with three who have interest in sport and personal use fishing. One board member should represent the interests of subsistence users.
“This balanced approach has worked well for Alaska,” the groups wrote. “The appointment of Mr. Fields alters that balance and threatens a return to earlier times when commercial fishing interests dominated the Board with little regard for sport, personal use subsistence fishers.”
“With respect to Alaska Board of Fisheries appointments, it matters where people are from and where their experience lies. We urge you to keep the Board fair, equitable and balanced by Voting No on the confirmation of Mr. Fields to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.”
Those signing the letter of opposition included a wide swath of Alaskans that the governor and the Legislature will heed at their own political peril. They are the heads of the Alaska chapter of Safari Club International, the Alaska Outdoor Council, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Association, Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Council, Kenai River Professional Guide Association, Matanuska Valley Sportsmen, Southeast Alaska Guides Organization, Tanana Valley Sportsmen, Alaska Charter Association, Alaska Sportfishing Association, Chitina Dipnetters Association, Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Mat-Su Fish and Wildlife Commission, Southcentral Alaska Dipnetters Association, Territorial Sportsmen, and Tsiu River Coalition.
The Kenai River Sportfishing Association posted a link and sample letter that Alaskans can send to legislators directly from the organization’s web site.