On Thursday night, the University of Alaska College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences is hosting a forum in Kenai about salmon habitat protection policy. The panelists are representatives of state government and advocates from the industries most affected, such as sportfish guiding, oil and gas development and mining.
Milo Adkison is a professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska.
"Our moderator is going to be Laine Welch. Most of you have heard her on Fish Radio. We've got Valerie Brown from Trustees for Alaska, Deantha Crockett — Alaska Miners Association, Josh Kindred — Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Ricky Gease — Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Peter Micciche is senator from your neck of the woods, Louise Stutes is representative from Kodiak, Jim Butler is with the Alaska Salmon Alliance, Sue Mauger is with CookInlet Keeper, Bob King wears a variety of hats but he's here in his role as fish historian, and Ron Benkhert is with the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game," Adkison said. "So I think it's a great group of people with a wide variety of perspectives."
The question before each panelist to start with asks if they believe Alaska's current habitat protections for salmon are adequate.
"Number one, I think people are taking positions for or against on proposed legislation or the Stand for Salmon initiative, and that's not as helpful to the general public. You know, I think there's a lot of science on how to get people to come to a compromise or come to a consensus, and asking their position on a particular proposal is not the right way to start," Adkison said. "The right way to start is to get people to talk about what they want and what problems they're having and what would help them out. And if we can get a diverse group of stakeholders in the room, I'm hoping we can get that more fruitful discussion about what each group needs and what each group could live with."
Adkison said there will be an opportunity for audience participation, as well.
"We are very definitely reserving a fair bit of time for questions and answers between the public and our panelists," he said.
The salmon habitat forum begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building on K-Beach Road and ends at 8 p.m. Adkison said the array of salmon appetizers alone might be reason enough to attend.