Sportfishermen aren’t too keen on Gov. Sarah Palin’s choice of Cook Inlet commercial salmon gillnetter Brent Johnson for a seat on the Board of Fisheries.
He’s a press release from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association:
Kenai River Sportfishing Association
April 2, 2009
Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) Opposes Johnson’s Appointment to Alaska Board of Fisheries
SOLDOTNA – Members of Alaska’s largest sportfishing advocacy organization in the state, Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA), are opposing the appointment of Brent Johnson to the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF). With the appointment of Johnson – an Upper Cook Inlet east side set netter – to replace Bonnie Williams on the BOF, Gov. Sarah Palin removed the only subsistence/personal use and Fairbanks seat from the Board and has tipped the balance toward commercial fishermen.
The second set netter appointed by the Governor to the Board, Johnson’s appointment also leaves the BOF with no Alaska Native or female representation in their management of Alaska’s subsistence, sport, personal use and commercial fisheries.
“Anyone who believes in Alaskan’s subsistence, sport and personal use fishing rights should be appalled by this appointment,” said KRSA executive director Ricky Gease. “Johnson is unable to see other points of view and has shown in his past interactions with the Board that he is not able to take a fair and balanced approach to fish allocation decisions.”
Johnson is past president of Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association (KPFA), a set netter trade association of Cook Inlet commercial fishing interests that has consistently claimed priority rights to the public fisheries of the region. KPFA aligned itself with past failed legal challenges in state courts that sought to grant exclusive private property rights to the State’s public fishery resources as guaranteed in the Alaska constitution. These efforts have led to new legal challenges in Federal court that seek to invalidate every personal use fishery in the state of Alaska. More than 30,000 Alaskan households participated in the personal use fisheries last year. According to the 2007 report on the economic impacts and contributions of sportfishing in Alaska, there were more than $700 million in angler expenditures in Cook Inlet alone, a region that sees a quarter million people fish more than a million angler days each year.
“Johnson is no friend to those who believe that Alaska’s fishing resources should be managed for all of the people of Alaska and not just for commercial fishermen,” said Gease.
KRSA also contends that the appointment of Johnson is inappropriate because it means the Interior of Alaska is no longer represented on the Board. This large area contains not only the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, but also many other important watersheds that are critical to subsistence, sport, personal use and commercial interests. The current Board also lacks any Alaska Native representation, so they will not have that cultural aspect represented in their deliberations.
KRSA urges Alaskans to contact their Legislators to ask them to oppose confirmation of Brent Johnson to the Board of Fisheries.
KRSA is in support of the reappointment of Karl Johnstone to the Board of Fisheries.
“Johnstone has commercial and sportfishing experience that allows him to make fair and balanced decisions, and his experience as a Superior Court judge, a mediator and arbitrator makes him the perfect person for this tough job.”
Kenai River Sportfishing Association is a 501(c) (3) non-profit, membership-based educational and conservation organization of sport anglers, conservationists and others whose primary goal is preservation and improvement of salmon habitat while promoting responsible sportfishing on the Kenai River and Alaska. Learn more at www.kenairiversportfishing.com.