The Kodiak City Council stood apart from the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on a contract extension with their joint fisheries analyst.
The fisheries analyst serves Kodiak in part by representing it at North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings, and Heather McCarty has been under contract in the position now for two years.
The original motion before both governmental bodies was to extend that contract for a year, but not all borough assembly members supported that length of time. At its last regular meeting, the assembly agreed on a six month extension instead.
In contrast, the city voiced strong support of a year-long extension at its work session earlier this week and expressed the same thoughts at its regular meeting last night.
Councilman John Whiddon sits on the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group, which has representatives from both the city council and borough assembly, and has taken a strong stand on the issue. He stressed the fishery analyst’s importance to Kodiak’s involvement in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
“We have to stay engaged. It’s critical that the city stay engaged in this process not just for the next six months, but throughout the whole tenure of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council work piece on the trawl bycatch motion, which could go as for as long as two years. It could be longer. It moves at a very slow pace. But a lot of the main decisions are gonna be made in the next six months.”
Which is why, he said, it doesn’t make sense to extend the contract for only six months. He said instead they should extend it for a minimum of one year and, if the borough disagrees, the city of Kodiak should consider funding the entire contract and reforming the fisheries work group. He said up until now the work group has been able to focus on the issues at hand.
“We have never – until very recently – never dealt with internal politics, and where we find ourselves now is in a situation where there’s internal politics within the group and, as a result, we have a failure to collaborate, and there’s an unwillingness to collaborate and a failure to communicate amongst members which is rendering us to a certain degree dysfunctional at a time when we can ill afford to be dysfunctional.”
Councilman Charlie Davidson said he is hopeful the borough assembly will agree to the one-year extension.
“If there’s any political decisions need to be made, it’s best that they be made on pertinent information and the most recent information, and I feel that our contractor has performed those jobs adequately, and I know that a lot of us are probably not that strong on the intricacies of the fisheries policy, so I find her input and her reports very helpful.”
Councilmembers had expressed interest in holding a joint work session with the Kodiak Island Borough to discuss the contract, and at the council’s last work session, Mayor Pat Branson suggested February 24 for that meeting.