In Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings beginning this fall and for the next three years, Cordova’s own Tom Carpenter, a veteran commercial harvester, will be on board to give the board a fresh perspective on an area that the board hasn’t had in decades.
“It’s a real honor to represent Cordova,” said Carpenter, whose appointment by Gov. Mike Dunleavy was recently approved by the Legislature. His term begins on July 1, so he will be participating when the board holds a work session in Anchorage Oct. 25-26, followed by the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands Bering Sea and Chignik Pacific cod meeting Oct. 27-28 and the Bristol Bay finfish meeting, also in Anchorage, Nov. 29-Dec. 3.
“The resource is the most important thing,” said Carpenter, who is retired in Cordova, where he arrived in the early 1990s as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. “I live in Cordova year-round,” Carpenter said. “I have participated in different fisheries. I understand the concerns of people upriver and downriver. That gives a perspective to the board that hasn’t been seen in many years. I think it probably will be a helpful tool to members of the board who may not be as familiar with that area.”
Carpenter said he views his appointment as a fairly full-time job.
“That’s why I waited until this time of my life,” he said. “Being retired now I can devote my efforts in one direction, which will be very helpful. Most of the work takes place between October and May. It’s a tremendous amount of reading which takes up most of your time. I’ll have to take more time than someone who is a speed reader.”
Carpenter has a broad-based background in fisheries. After his stint in Cordova with the Coast Guard he got a job as a crewman on a seiner, then a gillnetter, then bought his own boat. He also purchased and operated a sporting goods store in Cordova.
“I did a little bit of everything,” he said. “Alaska has been very good to me. I felt it was my obligation to give back to the state and this is how I’m trying to do that.” Carpenter acknowledged that being on the Board of Fisheries can be very political, “but I enjoy the management and science-based aspect of it,” he said. “I’m grateful to the governor for giving me the opportunity.”
Carpenter offered kudos to Speaker of the House Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, who represents Cordova in the House. “She was instrumental in helping me throughout this process,” he said.
Going before the House and Senate recourses committee to answer a lot of questions was an interesting process, “but for the most part people were very kind and I had a lot of support around the state,” he said.
Through his work as a fleet manager for Copper River Seafoods, serving on the Copper River/Prince William Sound Advisory Committee, involvement with the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. and other fisheries related entities, he has talked fisheries with commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence harvesters, listening to their thoughts on many issues. “There have been a lot of changes over the past 20 years,” he said. “You have to make sure the fish are getting past the sonar, that the needs of all user groups are satisfied. All the user groups have their opinion on how they want things managed, (but) sustainable fisheries management is the most important thing,” he said.