Legislature confirms fish board incumbents

Three incumbent members of Alaska’s Board of Fisheries were unanimously confirmed after a Chugiak representative withdraw his objection to the two commercial fishers on the board.

Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, said he objected to the confirmation of Sue Jeffrey, board member from Kodiak, and John Jensen, of Petersburg, because he had heard that someone was going to object to the third appointee — sportfishing guide Reed Morisky of Fairbanks.

“There was a package deal, Mr. Morisky and Mr. (Fritz) Johnson are very good appointees who had broad support, the other appointees had much more lukewarm support,” Stoltze said. “But, this was packaged as a deal by the administration.”

Johnson, of Dillingham, was appointed last year after the legislature did not confirm former member Vince Webster. He was confirmed earlier this legislative session.

Jensen has been on the Board of Fisheries since 2003, Jeffrey since 2011 and Morisky since 2013.

The three incumbents were confirmed unanimously today in a joint session of the state House and Senate, during which the bodies considered Gov. Sean Parnell’s appointees to several boards and commissions.

Sport fishing and personal users in the Matanuska-Susitna borough area were not happy with Jeffrey’s appointment, Stoltze said.

“Many interest groups, including my Mat-Su Fish and Game Advisory (committee) … are kind of boxed in, but that’s the way the system works.”

There is no Mat-Su Advisory Committee. There is, however a Matanuska Advisory Committee and a separate Susitna Advisory Committee. There’s also a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission, which supported reappointing all three incumbents.

In the process of withdrawing his objections, Stoltze said Jensen and Jeffrey were not qualified for their positions.

“Kodiak is full of some of the most intelligent people in commercial fisheries issues, there’s such a breadth of knowledge. I’m just very surprised that this is the best person they could find from Kodiak,” Stoltze said, of Jeffrey’s position.

Stoltze said that people he held in high regard were unhappy with the re-appointments of Jeffrey and Jensen.

“The Mat-Su Fish and Game Advisory Committee groups are stalwart proponents for fairness for all Alaskans,” he said. “This was the best deal we could get.”

• Rashah McChesney is city editor for the Peninsula Clarion. Contact her at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

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