A letter drafted by Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby taking a stand regarding a tanner crab bycatch issue coming up before the federal fisheries council has created quite a bit of stir because of what some call a lack of input from the assembly or residents of the borough.
In the letter, which Selby says is "on behalf of the borough and its residents," he writes that the borough "is opposed to any seasonal or annual closure areas proposed in the Gulf of Alaska Tanner crab bycatch alternatives," which are before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council this week.
He agrees that there should have been more input, but disagrees that he acted on his own.
— (Crab 1 46 sec "I didn’t do it unilaterally … marine fisheries folks.")
The letter is dated September 27th. However, two assembly members – Chris Lynch and Louise Stutes – say they did not get the letter until Wednesday. Lynch says communications of that type are usually sent to the borough clerk’s office, which then sends it to the individual assembly members, so there is no chance of them conducting business through e-mail. Lynch says she received Selby’s letter in an e-mail on Wednesday from Borough Clerk Nova Javier reminding the assembly of Thursday’s work session.
Stutes says Selby mentioned the letter at Thursday’s work session, but the assembly did not discuss it. That’s something Stutes would like to see changed in the future:
— (Crab 2 36 sec "I believe it should have … as opposed to another.")
Selby defends this letter, though, saying the timeline was such that he felt he had to act as he did:
— (Crab 3 32 sec "We can either sit and … into Kodiak for processing.")
Selby also calls for expanded observer coverage on fishing vessels in the gulf, and federal funding for the program. A letter drafted by the City of Kodiak, after a well-attended special meeting last Wednesday, also calls for additional observers in the fleet and for the North Pacific Council to take into consideration Kodiak’s economy when deciding on the Tanner crab bycatch issue.
The controversy over Selby’s letter and how it was created and sent may not die down immediately, but the letter itself is likely not going to have any affect at the fishery meeting. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Trevor Brown, who represents both the city and borough on fisheries issues, says too many assembly members objected, and so he will not be delivering the letter later this week when he goes to Anchorage for the meeting. E-mailed submissions are not accepted into the public record at the fishery meetings.
Selby says at tomorrow night’s regular assembly meeting he will bring forward the issue of getting more input before he writes letters on behalf of the borough. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m., and will be broadcast here on KMXT. ###