The State House Special Committee on Fisheries has forwarded a resolution to the House Rules Committee that would designate seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to sport and subsistence interests. House Concurrent Resolution 13 would not carry the weight of a bill, but would send a message to the governor.
Fairbanks Representative Steve Thompson is the chair of the Fisheries Committee. In his sponsor statement he says sportfishing and subsistence users have expressed frustration at the lack of opportunity to meaningfully participate in the North Pacific Council process and a lack of representation of their interests on the Council. He says actions taken by the Council regulating commercial fishing directly affect the quantity of fish available for sportsfishermen and subsistence users.
Kodiak Representative Alan Austerman also sits on the Fisheries Committee. He had no recommendation on the resolution while his four colleagues voted to move it out of committee. He said it’s not unusual for governors to nominate sport and subsistence representatives to the Council.
Dillingham Representative Bryce Edgmon pointed out that while the governor submits names for the North Pacific Council, it is ultimately the U.S. Secretary of Commerce who makes the final appointment. He said he has constituents on both sides of the issue.
The Alaska governor nominates five public members to the 11-member Council, while Washington State appoints two. The four other seats are designated to the Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner, Alaska Regional Administrator for NOAA, and Washington and Oregon state fishery officials.
The House Rules Committee will now schedule House Concurrent Resolution 13 for hearings in other State House committees.