The state Board of Fisheries has set the dates for meetings bumped from later this year to next spring due to Covid virus concerns. The dates for hatchery and shellfish meetings remain the same; Prince William Sound and Southeast fish issues are moved to spring. Board director, Glenn Haight, has the breakdown –
Current lineup is March 4 for the hatchery committee, March 5 – 10 statewide shellfish. Those are the same dates. The PWS meeting has been rescheduled to March 30-april 5– and SE/Yak April 17-29.
The plan is to hold in person meeting including at Cordova and Ketchikan, Haight says, while carefully monitoring Covid threats that could lead to unaccounted for costs.
“Probably the biggest unknown is what happens if we’re in the meetings and participants get sick. Certainly, the ones that we are accountable for- staff, board members, committee members. Those could lead to costs if a number of people are forced to quarantine in a hotel out of their own community. And it’s possible if an outbreak occurs, that the meeting is over. There are certain people we can’t conduct the meeting without and it could be that it’s all lost.”
While nothing can replace meeting face to face, Haight says the response to Zoom meetings has been positive and it is easy to bring in experts from far away to participate.
“It was kind of nice to see how easy it was to bring in subject matter experts out of nowhere. If you’re meeting in Anchorage, for instance, you’re not going to be able to bring in our regional subsistence expert from Fairbanks. But all of a sudden when we got to that point in the meeting, there she was available for questions if they came up. So it has some features that you can do a bit more with sometimes.”
Meanwhile, four fish board seats are being warmed by people not yet approved by the Alaska legislature. The same holds true for governor appointees to 137 boards and commissions.
“Our (Natural resources) attorney general Aaron Peterson provided an update. At this point they don’t have a solid answer and he was going to get back to the board on that. It’s top of mind – it’s not just BOF, it’s all of the boards and commissions appointments that have been made. It’s a lot of individuals. So it’s very concerning for the state and they are looking into it.”
Haight says the Fish Board will take up 275 proposals in its upcoming meeting cycle.
“Yeah, and you know what? We’re just going to see what happens with this year and hopefully things will settle down enough so we can get these proposals done.”