The fishing license obtained by U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka in 2019 was a one-day fishing license, something only sold to non-residents.
Or was it?
In one place on the license, it’s a one-day license, while in another place on the license it says it is a resident license. Those two classifications can’t coexist.
The tangled question came up this weekend as to whether Tshibaka, running against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, was entitled to fish on a resident license in the Kenai Classic invitational in 2019, as she had only returned to the state eight months prior, and a person must live in the state for 12 consecutive months before applying for a resident fishing license.
The mistakes on the license were spotted by a sharp-eyed Must Read Alaska reader, who noted that, “If you look at the bottom of the license there is a block for a date and time. Those are only used for non resident licenses. It is clear to me that that license was valid ONLY for August 23, 2019 beginning at 0600. Someone punched the incorrect box but that box is NEVER punched by the license holder.” He asked for a clarification in a followup story.
Indeed, at the top of the license, it appears that the wrong box was punched with the special fish-shaped punch. It says “RES $29 Sport Fish,” information that contradicts what the vendor had written at the bottom of the license, indicating only a single day of fishing was allowed on the permit.
The other information on the license, however, shows that Tshibaka’s residency was 15 years and 8 months, which is literally accurate, but since she didn’t live in Alaska consecutively for the prior 12 months, she made a mistake in filling out the permit to take part in the charitable event, which raises millions of dollars for fish habitat restoration and conservation on the Kenai River.
The intent of the residency permit is to distinguish those who live here and plan to stay from those who come from out of state and are only here to fish, and then leave.
As a rising political figure, such matters can become lightning rods for criticism. The media went after Joe Miller in 2010 for obtaining a resident hunting and fishing license shortly after he returned from college at Yale University. Miller ran against Murkowski and won in the primary, but lost after she launched a write-in campaign for the general. The mainstream media was merciless about that residency license.
On the online application, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game notes, “Alaska Resident per AS 16.05.415(a): “resident” means a person (including an alien) who is physically present in Alaska with the intent to remain indefinitely and make a home here, has maintained that person’s domicile in Alaska for the 12 consecutive months immediately preceding this application for a license, and is not claiming residency or obtaining benefits under a claim of residency in another state, territory, or country; a member of the military service or U.S. Coast Guard who has been stationed in Alaska for the 12 consecutive months immediately preceding this application for a license; or a dependent of a resident member of the military service or U.S. Coast Guard who has lived in Alaska for the 12 consecutive months immediately preceding this application for a license. A person who does not otherwise qualify as a resident may not qualify by virtue of an interest in an Alaska business.”
But those who get licenses in the field don’t typically see that description. Tshibaka was attending the classic as a state official, at the time the commissioner of the Department of Administration. Her main role there was to get educated on the conservation and other work being done by the Kenai River Sportsfishing Association, and to learn about the importance of the Kenai salmon runs to the communities of the Kenai Peninsula.
On the Fish and Game website, it states: “Short-term non-resident fishing licenses are valid for only 1, 3, 7, or 14 days.” That is arguably the license she had when she attended the charitable event in 2019, according to some sports fishing experts.