The Covid pandemic has derailed the AK Board of Fisheries meeting that planned to meet in-person from Jan.4-15 in Ketchikan. The Board oversees management of Alaska commercial, sport, subsistence and personal use fisheries in waters out to three miles.
The meeting has been “postponed to a future date and location to be determined” according to Doug Vincent-Lang, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner in a press release in which he expressed “great regret and disappointment.”
“The meeting will be postponed out of an abundance of caution due to the record-breaking rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States, and a concerning sharp rise in Southeast Alaska,” Glenn Haight, BOF Executive Director, said in the announcement.
“Cases in Southeast are increasing in almost every community. With the rise in cases post the holiday season, already key staff have contracted COVID-19 and are unable to participate. In addition, the nation and Alaska are facing serious transportation difficulties as weather and the pandemic are seriously hampering travel in the near-term,” Haight added.
The Board said it does to “finish its meeting cycle this year.” Last March, the BOF moved meetings originally scheduled for the 2021/2022 meeting cycle to 2022/2023.
Adding to the challenge is the resignation of newest BOF member, Indy Walton of Soldotna, who Gov. Dunleavy appointed last September. Walton named “medical issues and his busy business schedule as considerations in his decision,” reported the Cordova Times.
Indy Walton of Soldotna leaves BOF after three months
Walton was named to the BOF nearly three months beyond a legal deadline and was not yet approved by the Alaska legislature. He has fished for salmon commercially for nearly 40 years at Kodiak and Bristol Bay and also has owned a fishing lodge on the Kvichak River for three years.
Nominations for Walton’s seat will be be accepted until Dunleavy names his appointment, said deputy director of communications, Jeff Turner. .The appointee must then be approved by the Alaska Legislature.
Walton’s departure means only one person on the seven-member Fish Board hails from a coastal community – John Jensen of Petersburg.