Fish board wants review of fish habitat permit process

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is preparing to move forward on a formal motion asking the Legislature to review the state’s fish habitat permitting process at the request of 13 Cook Inlet-area stakeholders.

The group, who made the formal request when the fish board met in Homer earlier this month, wants the board to ask the Legislature to update Title 16, the section of Alaska statute that covers the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s responsibilities.

Currently, Alaska statute states that the commissioner of Fish and Game shall issue a permit unless the activity is “determined to be insufficient” for the protection of fish and game resources.

That phrase is the crux of the problem, being fairly vague.

The subject first came up at October’s fish board work session in Soldotna. At that meeting, dozens of people testified in favor of the proposal to have the board ask the Legislature to clarify the language.

Several wanted ADF&G to assume a stream contains anadromous fish even if it is not listed in the state’s Anadromous Waters Catalog, which only contains about half of documented streams.

The discussion continued at a joint meeting of the fish board’s legislative and habitat committees that took place before the regular meeting in Homer, where additional supportive testimony was taken.

Three board members drafted a letter to the Legislature, including Robert Ruffner, former director of the Kenai Watershed Forum.

The draft letter was submitted to the board at the Homer meeting, outlining three basic ideas, which were improving the public notification and public comment process, the presumption of anadromous waters and the need for better defined enforceable standards.

“The board recognizes the broad responsibilities of the Legislature to promote economic development and the wise stewardship of resources for all Alaskans,” the draft letter states. “The board finds that clear delineation of Alaska’s unwavering promise to protect salmon and fisheries habitat establishes a consistent and predictable business environment that will help all individuals and corporations wishing to do business in Alaska.”

While it is not directly stated, the last several years of controversy over PacRim Corporation’s plans to destroy several miles of salmon habitat in the Chuitna River drainage to mine coal, plans which were not dismissed outright by the state in an ongoing legal dispute, undoubtedly played a role in the effort.

The board meets again in Kodiak in January.

Cristy Fry can be reached at


More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for Oct. 21, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Tillion was a visionary public servant Former State Sen. Clem Tillion, who… Continue reading

Claudia Haines
Point of View: Honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October

Pink flags show support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for Oct. 14, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Foundation support for Pier One appreciated In June of 2021, Pier One Theatre… Continue reading

Les Gara, who represented Anchorage in the Alaska House of Representatives from 2003-2018, is running as a Democrat to unseat Gov. Mike Dunleavy in the 2022 general election. He told the Empire in an interview he wanted to ensure oppportunities were available in Alaska in the future. (Courtesy photo / Les Gara)
Point of View: We can still work together to end COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, I assumed we would come together to… Continue reading

Larry Persily
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for Oct. 7, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Freight alternative Mayor Ken Castner and the Homer City Council were right… Continue reading

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this year it is important… Continue reading

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for Sept. 30, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Dogs in public places The City of Homer Parks, Arts, Recreation and… Continue reading

Most Read