Central Kenai Peninsula fishermen will get to stay at home for the 2020 Board of Fisheries meeting.
For the first time in 20 years, the Board of Fisheries agreed to hold a full Upper Cook Inlet finfish board meeting in the central peninsula area. It’s a longtime talking point for central peninsula governments and fishermen who have had to travel to Anchorage for the notoriously long and politically rife meetings since 1999. The board has held worksessions on the peninsula since then, most recently in 2016, but not a full deliberative board meeting.
The board approved the location in a 4-2 vote, with member Israel Payton absent, during its meeting Friday in Anchorage. The board had previously decided to continue holding its meetings in Anchorage but reopened the discussion after requests from Kenai Peninsula local governments and the public, said Board of Fisheries Chairman John Jensen.
“If I remember right, we’ve always discussed it twice or thrice every cycle, so this isn’t out of the ordinary,” he said.
Board member Al Cain proposed a system for rotating the meeting locations among the three major communities of Upper Cook Inlet — Anchorage, Palmer/Wasilla and Kenai/Soldotna. One of the goals was to help alleviate some of the political tension arriving every time the board members decide where to host a meeting, but the other has to do with accessibility to young people, Cain said at the meeting.
“All the times that we’ve gone to areas outside of Anchorage, we seem to have participation by young folk, and that is a tremendous reason for me to suggest what will probably be added expense and inconvenience, to make this meeting format available to young folk and hopefully interest them in participating,” he said.