Alaska’s Board of Fisheries has postponed its 2020-2021 meetings until 2021-2022, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but will hold a web conference on March 8 to address several expiring sunset dates of fishery management plans.
During the March 9 session, the board will also work to reschedule this year’s statewide shellfish, Prince William Sound finfish and shellfish, and Southeast and Yakutat finfish and shellfish meetings.
The Prince William Sound and Southeast /Yakutat meetings were already rescheduled once already and are now postponed, said Glenn Haight, executive director of the fisheries board.
Under board actions taken on Jan. 25, five 2021-2022 cycle meetings will keep their current schedules. These include the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Island, Bering Sea and Chignik Pacific Cod meeting Oct. 22-23, 2021; the Bristol Bay finfish meeting, Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2021; the Arctic/Yukon/Kuskokwim finfish meeting, Jan. 8-12, 2022; Alaska Peninsula/Aleutian Island/Chignik finfish meeting, Feb. 18-23, 2022; and the statewide finfish and supplemental issues meeting, March 11-14, 2022.
Haight noted in a memo to board members that given the status of the pandemic and rate of vaccinations that there is a growing likelihood that in-person meetings of the board would not happen during the 2020-2021 meeting cycle. The Department of Fish and Game recommends, Haight said, that the board reschedule the 2020-2021 meetings to 2021-2022 at the same locations and double up on meetings next year to get back on schedule. Still, in order to do this, ADF&G will need increased funding from the Legislature, which is already struggling with statewide budget issues.
During a meeting of the Joint Boards of Fish and Game on Jan. 19, options for meetings during the pandemic were reviewed. The Board of Game has also opted to move all meetings in its current cycle to 2021-2022.