House panel hears from fish board nominees

The House Fisheries Committee held a short hearing on Gov. Sean Parnell’s appointees to the Board of Fisheries on Tuesday, and public testimony on the incumbents was mixed.

Parnell appointed Sue Jeffrey of Kodiak, John Jensen of Petersburg and Reed Morisky of Fairbanks to the board April 2.

The committee heard briefly from the appointees and the public, including several fishing organizations. The hearing was somewhat rushed as the representatives had been called to the floor shortly after.

Jeffrey and Jensen fish commercially and are generally considered commercial representatives on the board; Morisky is a guide and is considered a sport representative.

Current Board of Fisheries chair Karl Johnstone supported all three incumbents, praising Jeffrey’s work ethic and availability to the public, Morisky’s focus on the resource and Jensen’s long history on the board and in an array of Alaska fisheries.

Certain other groups also supported all three, including the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission and Kenai River Sportfishing Association, or KRSA.

KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease praised Jeffrey for being accessible.

“She is open to anybody who wants to come up and ask her questions, she makes herself available to the public,” he said.

Others offered mixed reports on the three.

Paul Shadura supported Jeffrey and Jensen on behalf of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, but said he spoke for the South KBeach Independent Fishermen’s Association when he opposed Morisky serving another term.

Shadura said Jeffrey’s commitment and skills improved the board process, and praised Jensen for listening to stakeholders and working to understand the complexities of fisheries management.

Ninilchik fisherman John McCombs said he attended the full board meeting in Anchorage and didn’t appreciate how the board generated and passed proposals without enough public input, or the push to make Cook Inlet management more closely mirror Bristol Bay.

As a result, he opposed offering the incumbents — including the commercial representatives — another term.

Chris Garcia, also participating from Kenai, said he also wanted to see new blood on the board.

The Alaska State House and Senate are scheduled to meet in a joint session to confirm the appointments April 17.

The committee sent the nominees forward for the hearing, but Rep. Paul Seaton noted that the motion to do so did not indicate support or opposition to any of the three individuals.

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