Deadline for comments for BOF special meeting is July 9

Bowpickers head to the Copper River flats the night before the first commercial Copper River salmon opener on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

July 9 is the deadline for written comments for a special meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries on four emergency petitions, including one on hatchery production in Prince William Sound.

In a revised notice released on July 3, the state fisheries board said petitions to be addressed included one on hatchery issues from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association received on May 16.

That petition from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association urged limiting the number of pink salmon eggs allowed to be taken and incubated by private non-profit hatcheries in Prince William Sound, and specifically to deny an increase in the number of pink salmon eggs taken in 2018 by 20 million.

At the meeting the board will consider whether an emergency exists under start statute (5 AAC 96.625) and may consider whether to adopt emergency regulations. The meeting is open to the public and a live audio stream of the meeting is to be available on the board’s website, www.boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov

The board will take no written or oral comment during the meeting.

Commercial fishermen were hoping that the issue would be delayed until a meeting of the fisheries board this fall, when they were not out in their boats harvesting fish.

A commentary on the issue by Jerry McCune, president of Cordova District Fishermen United, also appears in this issue.

The Cordova City Council on June 27 opposes KRSA’s petition and said so on June 27 by passing a resolution in support of the Valdez Fisheries Development Association’ Solomon Gulch Hatchery for a permitted increase of 20 million pink salmon eggs.

The Cordova petition cites benefits to Prince William Sound salmon fisheries enhancement programs through hatchery propagation, including sustainable direct economic and social benefit to the community. The city council also cited creation of local seafood processing jobs, fisheries business tax, increased commerce and seafood industry investment in their community.

“…salmon hatchery programs like the ones at VFDA are permitted using a public process, they employ strong scientific methodology, and are built upon sound and sustainable fisheries policies intended to protect wild salmon populations, the city council resolution said.

The agenda and other meeting documents, including the emergency petitions, are available on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Board of Fisheries meeting webpage at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.

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Margaret Bauman is a veteran Alaska journalist focused on covering fisheries and environmental issues. Bauman has been writing for The Cordova Times since 2010. You can reach her at mbauman@thecordovatimes.com.