The North Pacific Fishery Management Council meets this week in Kodiak for one of its five annual meetings and there are a couple of advisory groups that also get together. One is called the Scientific and Statistical Committee and the other is called the Advisory Panel, or AP.
KMXT’s Kayla Desroches dropped by the Elk’s Lodge Tuesday morning to watch the advisory panel at work and find out how it contributes to the council process.
Advisory Panel member Theresa Peterson from Kodiak speaks during a discussion about the North Pacific Observer Program, which monitors fisheries activity and data.
Peterson says three observer program representatives are speaking to the advisory panel that morning.
“Each agenda item has very experienced analysts who present the discussion papers and are available for questions to help clarify the issues.”
Peterson, who is the Kodiak Outreach Coordinator with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and has been a panel member for seven years, says she applied because she wanted to engage more in the discussion at the table.
She says she also uses her position to encourage community involvement.
“I really think that this council process is structured to provide ample community industry input, and so that’s part of what I try to do is kind of make sure that I can serve as a conduit and communicate with folks in my community about what’s going on in the council arena and how they can participate.”
Peterson says 21 industry stakeholders from Alaska, Oregon, and Washington sit on the panel, and four are from Kodiak. She explains, in order to join, applicants send a letter of interest to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and council members decide who to appoint.
I stopped AP chairman Ernie Weiss to ask him about the panel and how it contributes to meetings.
Weiss is from Anchorage and works as the Natural Resources Director for the Aleutians East Borough.
“What is unique about the AP that makes it important for the process?” I ask.
“We are kind of a sounding board and kind of a pre-council for people to come talk to, and we hear them out and we get our take on it, and that might be a different take than the council gets, but for the most part the people on the AP are a little bit closer to the ground and to the people that are most affected by the decisions of the council.”
“And how much does the council take the advice and the feedback of the AP?”
“Well, we are real happy when they just take our decisions and run with it. They don’t always do that, but sometimes they do. It just depends on the topic of the day. A lot of times they’ll take our advice and sometimes they’ll ignore our advice. And sometimes we have competing advice. We have a minority and they might take the minority’s advice.”
The advisory panel meets from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through Saturday, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meets until Tuesday.