Legislature Confirms Board of Fisheries Appointees

Screen capture of Les Gara during joint session on Gavel to Gavel. Courtesy of 360 North

Screen capture of Les Gara during joint session on Gavel to Gavel. Courtesy of 360 North

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The state legislature confirmed the appointment of three members to the Board of Fisheries Tuesday at its joint session.

Board Chair John Jensen of Petersburg and member Reed Morisky of Fairbanks will both return to their seats, while former member Frederick “Fritz” Johnson of Dillingham replaces Kodiak’s Sue Jeffrey in her position of vice-chair. Jeffrey, who was appointed in 2011, chose not to return to the board this year.

Johnson is a commercial fisherman who also served on the Board of Fisheries between 2013 and 2016. He is currently the Director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

At the joint session, Jensen received multiple objections. At least one was from Representative Les Gara of Anchorage.

Gara later stood up and withdrew that objection. He said he supports Jensen, but wanted to make a statement on behalf of his constituents.

“I feel a number of actions this February endangered a whole run of fish, and I feel another decision made it clear that all fishermen, including the over 600,000 Alaskans who don’t own a commercial fishing permit, don’t have the same rights as others.”

No one else stood up to defend their objections, but several people spoke in support of Jensen’s reappointment, like Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak, who chairs the House Special Committee on Fisheries.

“We all know that fisheries is a pretty contentious issue in this state, and I don’t foresee it changing in the near future, but he’s done a remarkable job, and he certainly has worked well with his board, and he has a great respect from his board.”

The new terms start July 1.

The Board of Fisheries is currently meeting in Anchorage to focus on the Bering Sea Tanner Crab harvest strategy. The next meeting will be in October.

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