Alaska Bycatch Task Force Members Named

Alaska state seal
The Alaska state seal. Image via State of Alaska.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has released a list of 11 Alaskans who will serve on the state’s Bycatch Review Task Force, which has been given the job of better understanding the unintended bycatch of fish such as halibut and salmon caught in state and federal waters.

Bycatch is defined as fish that are harvested in a fishery but are not sold or kept.

The state revealed the 11 appointees on January 7. Members of the Alaska legislature will fill two other non-voting seats on the task force.

“While Alaska’s healthy and sustainable fisheries are an example for the entire world to follow, bycatch has remained a contentious issue of concern of all Alaskans,” Dunleavy said. “The 11 Alaskans who stepped forward to serve on the Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force represent key stakeholder groups and are recognized for not only their knowledge of fisheries, but their commitment to sustaining the resource for generations of Alaskans to come.”

The 11 appointees are:

  • John Jensen, Chair – Jensen has over a half century of experience in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. He is serving his seventh term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries and was appointed to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in 2018.
  • Tommy Sheridan, Vice-chair – Sheridan, who will hold the public-member seat on the task force, fills the role of vice-chair. He is the owner of Sheridan Consulting and is a member of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.
  • Brian Gabriel – is the mayor of the City of Kenai since 2016 and a city council member for six years.
  • Linda Kozak – will occupy the halibut fisher seat. She runs a fisheries consulting service and also serves on the board of United Fishermen of Alaska.
  • Raymond May – fills the salmon fisher seat. He owns and operates a commercial fishing vessel out of Kodiak Island and is a council member for the Native Village of Port Lions.
  • Erik Velsko – occupies the seat reserved for a crab fisherman. He has worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska since 1997 and is a member of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Advisory Panel.
  • Mike Flores – has owned and operated a sportfishing charter business in Ninilchik since 1994. He is also a board member on the State of Alaska’s Big Game Commercial Services Board.
  • Stephanie Madsen – is the Executive Director for the At-Sea Processors Association.
  • Ragnar Alstrom – holds the Community Development Quota (CDQ) representative seat on the task force, and is the executive director for the Yukon Delta Development Association.
  • Kevin Delaney – is the founder of Delaney Outdoors, a fisheries consulting firm he opened in 2010. He was a division director for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from 2005 to 2010.
  • Duncan Fields – fills the seat reserved for an organization representing Alaska Natives. He is a long-time resident of Kodiak Island and owns a consulting firm that represents two Native corporations.

Dunleavy has tasked the group to study four areas: impacts that bycatch has on fisheries; policies informed by a better understanding of bycatch of high-value Alaska fishery resources; leveraging available resources to better understand the issue of bycatch, and utilizing the best available science to inform policy makers and the public about the issues.

“Alaskans of all backgrounds want to better understand the issue of bycatch,” Dunleavy said. “I look forward to the work and recommendations of the task force on ways we can better understand the issues and impacts of bycatch to further protect our state’s incredible fishery resources.”