The Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting on Southeast regulatory changes is in full swing in Anchorage, but there’s still a vacancy on the board, 40 days after the governor was supposed to appoint a successor.
That may pose issues at the two-week meeting, where the only coastal member of the board, Petersburg’s John Jensen, says he will likely have to recuse himself from more than a third of the 150-odd proposals due to conflicts of interest.
Passing a proposal requires four votes on the seven-person board. As KFSK reports, if Jensen or another member has to sit out, or a board member is sick, the board will be down to five voting members. Proponents of a change would have to convince four of the five remaining, or 80 percent, to pass a proposal.
The vacant Board of Fisheries seat was left open after board member Indy Walton resigned early this year, citing personal commitments and a spate of bad health. He sat on the board for four months and was never formally confirmed to the position by the state legislature.
With Walton’s seat still unfilled more than 70 days after it was vacated, it’s the second time in a row the seat has gone unfilled past the legal 30-day deadline for appointing a replacement. Before Walton was nominated to the board, the position sat open for 115 days, even though Walton had applied for the seat soon after the legislature rejected a controversial nominee, Abe Williams, from the position.
Board of Fish members are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the legislature. A spokesperson for Governor Mike Dunleavy said in an email Thursday (March 10) that the administration is still taking applications for the vacancy and that the governor intends to pick a qualified nominee “as soon as possible.”
Dunleavy’s office has not responded to a request for information about applicants to the open Board of Fisheries seat submitted March 10.
After the Southeast Board of Fisheries meeting wraps up on March 22, the board is scheduled to begin a statewide meeting on shellfish and salmon on March 26.
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