Mumford tapped for fish board

Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced May 20 that Robert Mumford has been appointed to the vacant seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

“I am pleased to announce Bob Mumford as my appointee to the Board of Fish,” Walker said. “His vast range of experience in multiple fields — as a commercial pilot, hunting instructor and fish and game State Trooper — has taken him all over the state.”

Mumford is making a lateral move from one board to another after being denied a reappointment by Walker earlier this year. He currently serves on the Board of Game, and his term is set to expire June 30. Kip Fanning was confirmed by the Legislature to replace Mumford on April 19.

According to a Boards and Commissions applicant listing, Mumford submitted his application for the Board of Fisheries appointment April 22, three days after the Legislature confirmed Fanning and rejected previous Board of Fisheries nominee Robert Ruffner on April 19.

Mumford told the Peninsula Clarion May 19 he did not have one specific issue he was looking forward to tackling.

“Right now, it is going to be studying up on a lot of issues that are going on right now. It’ll take me a little bit to get up to speed, although I’ve tried to follow the politics of it,” he said.

Mumford, an Anchorage resident, became an Alaska State Trooper in 1982 and served in the Fish Wildlife Protection Division from 1984 through 2002. Since then, he has served as a security contractor for Alaska Native regional corporation subsidiary Doyon Universal Services and on the Big Game Commercial Services Board as a liaison to Wildlife Troopers.

Walker’s latest pick said he was looking forward to serving on the board. He will not be subject to a confirmation vote until the 2016 session of the Legislature, meaning he will serve through the 2015-16 meeting cycle.

The upcoming Board of Fisheries cycle focuses on finfish, including salmon. The board has meetings scheduled for Bristol Bay, Arctic, Yukon, Kuskokwim, Alaska Peninsula, Bering Sea and the Aleutian Chain next year. 

The next Cook Inlet meeting isn’t until 2017.

 “I’m very neutral and I know there’s a division between commercial fisheries interest and sport interests,” he told the Clarion. “I’m very neutral on that and I think that’s probably a good thing for this board right now. I hope to bring some good common sense and reasonableness and just a fresh voice to the board.”

The open seat has become the subject of intense scrutiny since former board chairman Karl Johnstone stepped down in January before his term was over upon learning that he would not be reappointed to the position.

Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, said his organization is happy with Mumford’s appointment.

“KRSA supports the governor’s decision for the appointment of Robert Mumford to the Alaska Board of Fisheries,” said Gease. “The new appointee is from Anchorage. He’s a retired Alaska State Trooper. We understand he had a good reputation there at the Board of Game. He’s thorough, he listens to everybody, he makes decisions based on the resource first. We support that and look forward to working with Mumford on the Board of Fisheries.”

Walker first appointed Roland Maw, a longtime Kenai Peninsula resident, commercial fisherman and former executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association who withdrew his name from consideration Feb. 20 just one month into the confirmation process. He was charged with illegally obtaining resident fishing and hunting permits in Montana shortly thereafter.

Walker then appointed Ruffner, who was targeted for defeat by an intense lobbying effort by sport and personal-use fishing organizations seeking to frame him as sympathetic to commercial fishing interests. Ruffner failed to be confirmed by the joint Legislature by a 30-29 vote.

DJ Summers is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce. Peninsula Clarion City Editor Rashah McChesney contributed to this article.