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Board of Fish reverses decision to hold Kenai meeting


The state Board of Fish voted last week to hold its 2020 Upper Cook Inlet meetings in Anchorage. This reverses a decision the board made earlier this year to not just hold that meeting in Kenai for the first time since 1999, but to begin rotating the triennial, two week long meetings between the Peninsula, Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.

KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran spoke with Kenai mayor Brian Gabriel, who has been lobbying to get a meeting where the majority of those fish are caught each year.

“We’re disappointed the board reversed their decision to meet here on the central peninsula. It’s something I’ve been pushing for personally since 2014. The main meeting we’d like to have is the Upper Cook Inlet (finfish) meeting and they just seem unwilling to want to do that. They hold meetings that are relevant to other areas where they’re considering (proposals); Kodiak, Prince William Sound, Bristol Bay. In some respect, they’re not following some of their practice regarding where they hold meetings in relation to geographic areas of most of the proposals they’re considering. It’s disappointing. In my opinion, it’s politically driven and it’s sad.

“The Ombudsman recognizedthat they didn’t follow what they would consider past practice, which is the guidelines they should be following...I think she made the right decision, at least recognizing it. I didn’t have a whole lot of hope it would change the result of the vote. But they should at least meet a certain standard for transparency. I think that was the whole point of the Ombudsman’s decision.”

“You’re going to find that no matter where that meeing is, you’re going to have organizations representing their memberships there, but it sort of shuts out the person that doesn’t belong to an organization, (who) has something to say to the board. Looking down the line, I think there will be an effort to have the 2023 meeting on the central peninsula and we’ll hopefully be successful to get some meeting down here because after 20 years, you say if not after 20 years, when? That’s the next question.”

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