Walker picks Homer man to fill seat on NPFMC

Homer fisherman Buck Laukitis is one of two Alaskans chosen by Gov. Bill Walker to fill two seats being vacated on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The other is Kodiak resident Theresa Peterson.

The council has 11 voting members, and oversees federal fisheries from 3 to 200 miles from shore.

Laukitis and Peterson both bring coastal community and small boat mentality to the council, which is otherwise largely populated with trawler and CDQ big boat experience.

“I think there’s plenty of balance on the council overall,” Laukitis said. “Everybody is governed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the National Standards. You’re put on there to be open-minded and analytical.”

He said a new council member has to be involved in a lot of things they are not necessarily experts at.

Laukitis is no stranger to the workings of the council. He said he has been attending meetings for 10 or 15 years.

“I’ve been pretty involved in some issues, raised issues and followed issues.”

He said that when he looks at the council’s agenda for the next year or two, there are some things he is keenly interested in.

“There’s a lot of halibut issues, including the Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch, which is a big issue.”

One concern he has is how the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the National Marine Fisheries Service and council systems are not exactly compatible.

“IPHC does the science and sets the directed quotas, but NMFS manages the bycatch amounts, and those two systems don’t always work well together, so that’s going to be an issue coming up.”

He said the latest 10-year review for halibut and sablefish also is coming up, as well as the one for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands crab fisheries.

“It’s such a wide array of agenda items, I don’t know exactly what I’ll get accomplished. It’s federal fisheries policy, but you bring your own lens, being an Alaskan.”

One issue that the council deals with that Laukitis has been heavily involved in is the federal observer program and its expansion to the 40-foot and up small boat fleet, and efforts to get electronic monitoring on smaller vessels that do not necessarily have room for an extra person.

He said his main goal in being on the council is “more accountability.”

His and Peterson’s nominations go to the Secretary of Commerce for confirmation in June. There are two alternate nominees for each seat.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.