The contract for the Kodiak Island Borough and City of Kodiak’s fisheries analyst and consultant was on the table at the Kodiak Island Borough assembly’s regular meeting last night, but not all assembly members could agree on whether to extend the contract or not. Part of the fisheries analyst’s job is to represent Kodiak’s interests at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings and to interpret what happens within the industry’s governing bodies, especially with regard to fisheries policy.
The current contract with Heather McCarty of McCarty and Associates expires on February 6 and Assemblyman Mel Stephens spoke against the one year extension.
“I’m not suggesting that Heather McCarty is not knowledgeable of fisheries regulations. I am suggesting that I have not seen any concrete benefits of this contract. I have not seen a quarterly report. I have not seen a genuine analysis, and therefore I will vote against extending it.”
Assemblyman Larry LeDoux made a motion for postponement so that the assembly could discuss the issue with the city and give the two absent assembly members – Kyle Crow and Frank Peterson – an opportunity to vote.
Stephens said he was not in favor of postponement due to absences, because it could lead to varying results depending on who is absent and who supports the motion. The motion to postpone failed.
The vote on the main motion was three yes and two no, but since it did not receive the four votes needed to pass, the contract extension failed. Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner joined Stephens in dissenting. After the votes were tallied, Assemblyman Dan Rohrer, who had voted yes, changed his vote to no, to be on the prevailing side, with intent to ask for a reconsideration vote.
Assembly members took the opportunity during their comments at the end of the regular meeting to explain their thoughts. LeDoux said he sees the importance of the fisheries analyst.
“I certainly appreciate all the calls I’ve been getting in support of that. As I said earlier, it’s a very critical time in our community, and the decisions made by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council could devastate our fisheries, and we need to be at the table and informed and ready to respond with regard to the effects of their decision on our community.”
Skinner pointed out that in order to have a voice at the council, the borough has to know what it’s going to say and direct its fisheries analyst to express that.
“I have never heard the borough undertake the discussion of its comfort level in being involved in fisheries policy, what that involvement should be. Should we be engaging in more of an informational level, should we be advocating? And I think those questions do need to be resolved before we engage or extend a contract.”
She said if they don’t know what their involvement is, they don’t know what kind of person they need to help them accomplish their goal. Rohrer made a similar statement. He said over the last 14 or so months, the assembly has had a number of discussions about the effectiveness of the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group and the Kodiak Fisheries Advisory Committee. He said that he’d like the assembly to go into more depth on that before they move ahead on the fisheries consultant contract.
“After the borough has made a decision about what we believe the borough’s role in fisheries policy should be, then we do need to have a discussion with the city, if in fact we desire to continue to work together with them. I believe that just going ahead and deciding to cancel the contract for example – or not cancel, just not continue it – that effectively, what that says to the city is we’re no longer interested in working together with you.”
He said he’s not sure how he’ll vote, but he’ll have the next two weeks to make an informed decision. The assembly’s next work session is scheduled for January 28.