Marit Carlson-Van Dort faces strong opposition to reappointment to the Board of Fisheries 

 

Alaskans can finally weigh on unconfirmed Board of Fish appointees. A joint hearing by the House Fisheries and Resource committees is set for Saturday, April 10 at 1pm to discuss controversial appointments made by Governor Dunleavy last year. They were unable to be vetted by the Legislature or the public when Covid derailed the 2020 session early, and confirmations were not made according to a specific time frame.

Members up for reappointment are: John Jensen of Petersburg, John Wood of Willow and Marit Carlson-Van Dort of Anchorage. United Fishermen of Alaska has come out strongly against Carlson-Van Dort, claiming that she did not disclose conflicts of interest at past Fish Board meetings.

In an Action alert, UFA states that the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) is bombarding legislator’s inboxes with form letters from around the country supporting Märit Carlson-Van Dort for the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

If Ms. Carlson-Van Dort is truly a “comfish” representative on the Board of Fish, UFA asks, then why is KRSA working so hard and pouring money into a campaign to keep her on the board? The answer is because she votes with KRSA and not commercial fishermen. (See other UFA objections outlined below.)

Representative Louise Stutes said she agrees.

“Members of this office along with UFA have taken a strong opposition to Marit Carlson-Van Dort.  There is a lot of opposition to her. And frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if possibly she even withdraws because of the amount of opposition to her appointment.”

Carlson-Van Dort was  a former Pebble Partnership director as recently as 2018 along with another controversial three-year appointee, Abe Williams of Anchorage, who is currently a regional affairs director for the Pebble Mine.

Another unknown appointee, McKenzie Mitchell of Fairbanks, is a sportfish guide from Fairbanks with no experience in Alaska commercial fisheries.

Of the seven board members, only one – John Jensen – hails from a coastal community. Meanwhile, Dunleavy has taken the matter to court, saying his appointees can stand without Legislative vetting or confirmation. Representative Stutes has a big problem with that.

 “Currently we have four sitting members, new members, and one old member, that have not been confirmed and they are making decisions and some of them just don’t have the experience. And they have the opportunity to make monumental decisions affecting people’s livelihoods.”

Emails can be sent in advance of Saturday’s Board of Fisheries confirmation hearing and call-in testimony is encouraged.

housefisheries@akleg.gov and houseresources@akleg.gov

To listen in or testify through the following numbers – call & ask for the specific committee hearing:

From Anchorage based phones call 907-563-9085;

From Juneau based phones or outside Alaska call 907-586-9085;

From other areas of Alaska, call toll-free 844-586-9085

Other UFA Talking Points against Carlson-Van Dort:

  • Ms. Carlson-Van Dort was placed in her current position on the board to fill a comfish seat, yet she has consistently voted against proposals that would benefit commercial fishermen, unless they were Chignik commercial fishermen of which she has family participants.
  • At the Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2020, Ms. Carlson-Van Dort did not provide valid justification for her support of sportfish proposals over comfish. It appeared as though she had come to the meeting with her mind already made up how she was going to vote.
  • Many commercial fishermen have expressed frustration that she will not engage with them, and when she does engage, she is complacent and appears sympathetic to their concerns, yet votes against them with no justification.
  • In Kodiak, Ms. Carlson-Van Dort voted strictly for Chignik fishermen that are also shareholders and directors of the Chignik Village Corporation, Far West, Inc. of which she is President.
  • Ms. Carlson-Van Dort, with the help of a first cousin that had submitted several proposals to the Board, encouraged her uncle to transfer his Chignik salmon permit a couple of weeks before the Board meeting so that she did not technically have an economic conflict of interest and could vote in favor of her cousin’s proposals, hurting Kodiak fishermen.
  • At the Kodiak meeting, in comments regarding the board’s action, she read comments obviously written by a third party and said on the record “we” indicating her and Chignik rather than speaking as a board of fish member.
  • Ms. Carlson-Van Dort should be replaced with a non-biased, open-minded board member- not a sport advocate pretending to be a commercial fishing supporter.

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