Thirteen Applicants on Governor’s Desk for Two Possible Alaska Council Seats

SEAFOODNEWS.COM By Peggy Parker – February 12, 2016

There are eleven voting members on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, six of which represent Alaska. The majority bloc of Alaskan votes will see at least one new face this year because three-term member Duncan Fields will be stepping down in June.

Fields, from Kodiak, has served three consecutive three-year terms, the maximum allowed. David Long of Wasilla, whose first term also expires this year, could be reappointed. Long has worked in many Alaska fisheries as a skipper and fleet manager.

Whether Governor Walker has one or two new appointments to make, he will have more than a dozen applicants, from Sand Point to Sitka, to choose from.

Alan Austerman may be the most well known. Born and raised in Kodiak, he served as Majority Leader of the State House, and as a first-term Senator, before becoming the Fisheries Policy Advisory to Governor Frank Murkowksi.

Linda Behnken of Sitka has been the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association for 18 years and has been fishing for over 20. She was a Council member in the mid 1990s, has been appointed to fish management panels including the National Science Foundation’s IFQ Review Panel and was part of Governor Walkers’ Fisheries Transition Team.

Julie Bonney is the executive director of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank of Kodiak. She is intricately involved in management initiatives that have helped shape the current management structure in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska.

Ed Dersham, a former charter skipper who has worked on projects with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and served eight years of the Alaska Board of Fish, also served two terms on the Council. Dersham was replaced by Andy Mezirow in 2015. Even for members who have termed out, once they are off the council, they may reapply and serve again.

Theresa Peterson of Kodiak has served on the Council’s Advisory Panel for several years, and is the Kodiak Outreach Coordinator for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. She has a family owned and operated fishing business, in the commercial halibut and salmon fleet and as a set net operation on Kodiak Island.

Art Nelson is also on the Council’s Advisory Panel, appointed just last year. He is the executive director of the Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, based in Anchorage.

Buck Laukitis from Homer is a commercial fisherman and past president of the North Pacific Fisheries Association. He has also been on the Board of Trustees for the Homer Foundation since 2005.

Paul Gronholdt, of Sand Point, represents the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands on the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference. He is also a commercial fisherman. Both Gronholdt and Laukitis were named as alternates by Governor Walker when he reappointed Dan Hull for his third term; Hull now serves as Chairman of the Council.

Rhonda Olivia Pitka, is chief of Beaver, an Athabaskan village north of the Yukon River and just south of the Arctic Circle. Pitka participated in a roundtable discussion with President Obama during his visit to Alaska last year.

Jim Sepel is a retired Coast Guard commander and Juneau resident who owns a marine surveying firm. Sepel served on the Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council under former Governor Parnell.

Rebecca Skinner is an attorney from Kodiak who serves on the Borough Assembly and the Southwest Alaska Municipal Council.

Emilie Springer, a Homer native and longtime salmon fisherman, holds a bachelor’s from Stanford University and a master’s in marine affairs from the University of Washington. She was in the doctoral program at UAF department of anthropology.

Jed Whittaker has been active in Alaska’s Green Party and on various fishing and community-related programs.

The deadline for additional applicants is February 15, 2016. The Governor is expected to make his recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce in mid-March. The Secretary will announce the appointments no later than June 27.

Peggy Parker, Science and Sustainability Editor 1-781-861-1441
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Story Posted: 2/12/2016 2:16:47 AM
reprinted with permission

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