BOF votes to hold PWS, Southeast Alaska sessions in spring

Two-day work session now set for October 15-16 via Zoom

Board of Fisheries members have voted to postpone until spring deliberations on Prince William Sound finfish and shellfish issues that were to be decided in December, a precautionary move because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

During its teleconferenced work session of Sept. 16, board members also postponed until spring the January 2021 meeting on Southeast and Yakutat finfish and shellfish.

The Prince William Sound meeting was to have been held Dec. 11-17 at the Cordova Center, and the Southeast and Yakutat finfish and shellfish meeting Jan. 4-16 at the Ted Ferry Civic Center in Ketchikan.

The board also voted during the work session to determine if there are certain issues before the board that must be addressed in a timelier manner. The board will meet Oct. 15-16 via Zoom. Written comment for that work session may be submitted until Sept. 30. A live audio stream is intended to be available at boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov.

During the September work session, the board heard from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on its findings related to holding in-person meetings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. ADF&G officials recommended to the board cancellation of the December meeting on Prince William Sound issues and moving it to the 2021-22 meeting cycle, or until there are adequate treatments to assure the safety of the public, the board and staff.

ADF&G also recommended that the board identify any issues that must be addressed this year, and initiate drafting of an action plan for postponing the January and March 2021 meeting to the 2021-22 meeting cycle.

Board officials said that no regulatory action will be taken during the October work session.

Also, while the work session is open to the public, no oral testimony will be taken. Written comments due by Sept. 30 may be mailed to Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526, emailed to dfg.bof.comments@alaska.gov, submitted on the board’s webpage at boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov, or faxed to 907-465-6094. After Sept. 30, written public comments are limited to 10 single-sided or five double-sided pages in length from any one individual or group. Those comments will be accepted as record copies and inserted in board member workbooks at the start of the board meeting.

Agenda topics may include election of officers, agenda change requests, petitions, meeting organization and establishment of committees for the 2020-21 meeting cycle, location and date selection for the 2022-23 meeting cycle, informational reports, creation of board generated proposals, approval of the 2021-22 call for proposals, and/or administrative issues that may come before the board. The board may choose to go into executive session. The board will also take up items under a miscellaneous business agenda.

The board’s 2020 agenda change requests are available for review on the board’s website. ACRs may be submitted by the public, advisory committees, and agencies seeking regulatory change for regions and species not up for review in the current meeting cycle. The board is accepting ACRs as proposals for the 2020-21 meeting cycle based on state statue guidelines.

They may include ACRs for a fishery conservation purpose or reason, to correct an error in a regulation and to correct an effect on a fishery that was unforeseen when a regulation was adopted.

The fisheries board’s 2020-21 proposal book, which was already in print, still contains the original dates for both meeting, plus 275 proposals.

Proposals may be downloaded at adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.proposalbook. Given reductions to state budgets, proposal books will not be published for hard copy distribution.