Frances Leach says she’s always had a passion for fisheries sustainability and environmental issues, and now she plans to use that motivation as a lobbyist.
Leach will be stepping down at the end of 2021 after four years as executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska, the umbrella group for several dozen commercial fishing entities, to take on a new mandate as the owner of Capitol Compass, her own Juneau lobbying firm.
While she is already signing up clients, her work for them will not begin until after Jan. 1.
“I like being able to advocate, especially for things I am really passionate about,” she said.
“I have always had an interest in politics. Since I was a kid, I was politically engaged but never wanted to be an actual politician.”
Leach grew up in a commercial fishing family in Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island. She has crewed on commercial fishing boats and worked in a cannery. “Also in my time commercial fishing I watched our environment change rapidly and have seen climate change,” she said.
Leach earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Oregon State University and a master’s in art from George Washington University. She spent about seven years with the Alaska Board of Fisheries, as a regulations specialist and also as a publications specialist and regional coordinator, handling publications correspondence and meeting set-ups before joining UFA.
It’s untrue that you can’t be both pro-commercial-fishing and pro-environment, she said. Fishermen should work toward recognizing that climate change is an actual phenomenon, and should work together to protect resources rather than fighting with one another over such an issue, she said.
Leach said that, as a lobbyist, she will look for a balance between using Alaska’s rich seafood resources and working to keep them sustainable.