Bycatch Review Task Force formed

Prince William Sound Science Center Board Member Tommy Sheridan wrangles a salmon at Holbrook Pond. (Oct. 2, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Tommy Sheridan wrangles a salmon at Holbrook Pond. (Oct. 2, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A bycatch review panel, chaired by a veteran fisherman who serves on both Alaska and federal fishery management entities, has been tasked with helping the state better understand the reasons behind why there is so much unintended incidental catch of untargeted species.

Their mandate is to evaluate and recommend policies informed by a better understanding of bycatch of high value fisheries, including halibut and salmon. Substantial bycatch of both species has been the subject of intense discussion on the state and federal level for many years.

John Jensen, of Petersburg, now serving his seventh term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, was named chairman by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, with Tommy Sheridan, of Cordova, a consulting firm owner who serves on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, named as vice chair.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel fills the seat for the mayor of a coastal Alaska community, with Raymond May of Port Lions in the salmon fisher seat, and Linda Kozak of Kodiak in the halibut fisher seat. May also serves on the council for the Native Village of Port Lions, and Kozak is a board member of United Fishermen of Alaska, the umbrella group for the state’s commercial fishing entities.

Erik Velsko, of Homer, a member of the NPFMC’s Advisory Panel, was named to the seat reserved for crab fishermen. He also serves on the board of the North Pacific Fishing Association.

Charter sport fishing businessman Mike Flores, of Ninilchik, fills the seat representing charter operators.

Others include Stephanie Madsen, executive director of At-Sea Processors, which represents groundfish fishermen engaged in the Alaska Pollock fishery; Ragnar Alstrom, executive director of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, a community development quota entity designed to boost the region’s economy through investment in groundfish and crab fisheries; Kevin Delaney, of Windsor, Colorado, former director of the Alaska Division of Sport Fishing, and now a fisheries consultant; and Duncan Fields, of Kodiak, an attorney representing two Alaska Native corporations.

Two voting members from the state will include Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang and Commerce, Community and Economic Commissioner Julie Anderson.