The governor's picks for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council have advocated for coastal communities in the past.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will have two new faces next fall, and the governor’s picks for the seat could push the council toward decisions favorable to small-boat fishermen and coastal communities.
Governor Bill Walker announced his nominations for the two seats opening up. Theresa Peterson of Kodiak and Buck Laukitis of Homer were tapped to replace Duncan Fields and David Long, whose three-year terms expire in August.
Fields, of Kodiak, has served the maximum three consecutive terms; Long, of Wasilla, simply isn’t being re-appointed.
A spokeswoman for the governor, Katie Marquette, said in an email that he did a good job and was considered for re-appointment.
“We ultimately decided to go with an active gulf fisherman who will also do a great job,” she wrote.
Long had worked as a fisherman previously, including in Bristol Bay, and is also involved in the Bering Sea fisheries, and worked for Glacier Fish Co.
His replacement, Buck Laukitis, is a commercial fisherman and owner of Magic Fish Company and Compass Rose properties. Laukitis helped develop the Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan in 2014.
Theresa Peterson replaces Fields in a seat that's typically been held by a Kodiak resident. She is a 30-year commercial fisherman, an outreach coordinator for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and currently serves on the council’s advisory panel.
Both of the governor's picks have been vocal regarding issues like limiting halibut bycatch by those targeting other species, preserving coastal communities’ access to fisheries and providing opportunities for small boat fishermen to target a wide-range of species. They have generally supported many of the ideas that the current commissioner of Fish and Game, Sam Cotten, has advocated for as the state's representative on the council.
In an email, Laukitis said he’s looking forward to being part of the Council process, and represent Alaskan interests.
“I’m excited to work on important issues that affect Alaskan coastal communities and fishermen,” he said. “Living in a small coastal community in Southwest Alaska (False Pass) for many years and fishing out of King Cove, Akutan, Dutch Harbor and Adak gives me a somewhat unique perspective on the council.”
Walker’s nominees are not the final word. The decision is up to the Secretary of Commerce, who is expected to name his choices in June. Walker’s alternates for the two seats are Eric Olson, Paul Gronholdt, Linda Behnken, and Art Nelson.
The new members will be seated in August, and their first regularly scheduled council meeting is in October. The agenda for that meeting includes a discussion of several halibut issues, including a possible leasing program in the Bering Sea and a ten-year review of the individual fishing quota program.