Bristol Bay finfish convenes in Dillingham late next fall, but now is the time to work with staff and stakeholders to draft proposed changes to sport, subsistence, and commercial fishing regulations.
The state's Board of Fisheries has made a practice of holding every other meeting on Bristol Bay. This fall the board will host the triennial get-together in Dillingham.
“Every six years one would expect it to be out there – it was in Naknek in 2012," said Glenn Haight, the board's executive director. "I think it’s important for the board to hold these sessions in the locations where the fish are caught.”
The Bristol Bay finfish meeting is the time to address the rules and regulations governing commercial fishing for herring and salmon, subsistence fishing, and sport fishing in one of the premier spots in the world for all three activities.
The democratic process allows anyone to put together a new proposal, and the deadline to do so is April 10.
“We encourage anyone who’s looking at possibly changing a regulation or creating a new one that deals with Bristol Bay finfish to consider submitting a proposal by that deadline. There’s a proposal form that one can fill out online, or just a hard copy is fine as well," said Haight, who was speaking from the board meeting in Sitka.
Local Fish and Game Advisory Committees offer a good place to start lobbying for proposals. Most Bristol Bay AC's will meet next month ahead of the Board of Game meeting, but will meet again before the Board of Fish April deadline.
Working with or through the AC can be beneficial, said Haight.
“I think there’s merit to that, because you’ve got a group of folks that are engaged, they understand the process, they can provide good advice. They might not agree with the proposal, but at least you’ve got a sounding board there. And if they do agree with the proposal, they might go so far as to adopt it as their own.”
ADF&G biologists and board support staff can assist with looking up the regulations and discussing how to draft a proposal. While sport, commercial, and subsistence fishing regulatory changes eventually need to be written in proper form, Haight encourages people not to be dissuaded by that early on.
“There’s a part where you do that in the proposal, but there’s also a part where you explain what you’re trying to get to. What I would say to people is, submit that proposal in a simple form is fine, and that comes into us in April. Then as you approach that meeting you can send in additional written comments of up to 100 pages. That’s where you can really load it up with research that you may have, or other kinds of convincing arguments.”
The December 2015 Bristol Bay finfish meeting took up a number of perennial proposals regarding permit stacking and fishing extra gear, which the board continues to oppose. The board did approve removing the old “free week," imposing the 48 hour penalty for transferring districts from the beginning of the season. The board also adopted new escapement goal ranges, and fixed some individual set net site boundaries based on coastal erosion.
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