Walker nominates two fishermen to Alaska fish management, defends Fields

Published: Mar. 21, 2018 at 3:34 PM AKDT
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Alaska sport fishing groups are opposing one of Gov. Bill Walker's picks for the state Board of Fisheries.

The groups say Walker is trying to break an unwritten rule about the balance of power between commercial and sports fishing interests with his nomination of Duncan Fields of Kodiak.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that 16 outdoor sporting organizations have urged state legislators to reject Fields' nomination, saying it matters where someone is from and what that person's experience is.

Walker picked Fields to replace Alan Cain, a retired Alaska Wildlife Trooper who lives in Anchorage. If Fields were confirmed, Alaska's largest city wouldn't have a board representative.

Fields has worked in commercial fishing and fisheries policy. And in an interview with Kodiak radio station KMXT, he pushed back against the criticism.

On Wednesday, Gov. Walker offered a statement on his recent appointment of Fields:

“Finding high-quality Alaskans to serve on the Board of Fisheries is critical, and that is why I was pleased to nominate Duncan Fields of Kodiak to fill the vacant seat on the Board. At the same time, Duncan’s appointment underscores the constant struggle to achieve balance on the Board. Not only is there an array of user groups – from commercial and sportfish to subsistence and personal use – there are also distinct regions which deserve representation when management issues are considered. It is not always possible to balance every need every year. This is why I believe the Board should be expanded to include nine members. While I continue to support Duncan’s appointment, I am working to promptly address the concern of balance between user groups.”

Walker also announced his nomination of two men to fill North Pacific Fishery Management Council openings: Andrew Mezirow and John Jensen. Both are reportedly longtime Alaska fishermen.

According to the press release, Mezirow participated in "numerous" fisheries and owns Gray Light Sportfishing. In the 1990s, he was chief officer of the University of Alaska Research Vessel Alpha Helix. And he "has served on the council since 2015."

Meanwhile, Jensen has "more than 50 years of experience" fishing in Alaska. According to the release, he owns and operates a seasonal skiff rental business in Petersburg.

Channel 2's Sidney Sullivan contributed to the report.