JUNEAU — After receiving an influx of written public comments asking it to hold an upcoming meeting in Kenai, the Board of Fisheries has scheduled a day of public comment during a work session. The board will meet in the Kenai and Soldotna area for its work session from Oct. 18-20, 2016, it decided at its Thursday work session at Centennial Hall.
The board voted to approve the meeting location 6-1, with board member Fritz Johnson of Dillingham voting against the measure.
Residents of the Kenai Peninsula had asked for a chance to speak before the board during its upcoming meeting cycle, which focuses on upper and lower Cook Inlet fisheries. The current cycle is Southeast-focused and the meetings are located in Southeast communities.
The board decided to add a day of public testimony to its normal work session procedures for the Kenai meeting, which board Chairman Karl Johnstone said was “unprecedented.” Work sessions are meetings in which the public can watch the board perform its functions, but typically does not get an opportunity to speak.
Board member Reed Morisky of Fairbanks was first to suggest the board hold the meeting in Kenai.
“Based on the comments we’ve read … I believe having a work session would go a long way for access to the board,” he said, adding that holding a meeting in Kenai would provide an economic boost to the region in the fishing off-season.
Board member Sue Jeffrey of Kodiak asked if the board could do Kenai one better and hold a special public comment period at the work session.
After some discussion, the board decided to allow it.
The other meetings in the board’s next cycle also were scheduled. The lower Cook Inlet meeting will be held in Homer from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2016.
The Upper Cook Inlet meeting will be held from Feb. 15 to 28, 2017, in Anchorage.