Concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted the Alaska Board of Fisheries to reschedule for Anchorage a meeting previously intended to be held in Southeast Alaska, and postpone a second meeting, already scheduled for Anchorage, to a later date.
The first is the Southeast and Yakutat shellfish and finfish meeting, which is now set for March 10-22; the second is the statewide shellfish meeting, which was rescheduled for March 26-April 2. The board rescheduled the statewide shellfish meeting to follow just a few days after the first session in order to handle proposals related to upcoming Southeast fisheries.
Board of Fisheries officials said that while holding these meetings in Anchorage is not a preferred choice, it is part of a balancing act between allowing the COVID-19 surge to peak, a limited budget, logistics, fishery timing, additional board meetings and other factors.
The board said it will allow remote public testimony for the first meeting at select Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices in Southeast Alaska in order to support public participation by impacted residents. All committee work at that meeting is to be held in person in Anchorage.
A number of temporary COVID-19 mitigation measures are to be taken at both sessions, including a registration requirement, in order to get contact information in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at either meeting, so tracers can notify all participants.
Proposals up for consideration at the March 10-22 meeting include 16 on king salmon, 14 on enhancement and special harvest areas, 16 on commercial salmon, 15 on herring, 25 on crab, 19 on groundfish and 21 on shrimp and miscellaneous issues, plus 32 others related to personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries.
On March 26 the board takes up Cook Inlet, Kodiak, Westward, Arctic shellfish and shellfish general provisions, plus Prince William Sound shrimp.
Proposals up for consideration include 18 on shrimp, 16 on commercial and subsistence issues, three on supplemental issues, five on sport and personal use issue and three on miscellaneous sport.
Meeting agendas and all proposals for both meetings are already posted online at the board’s meeting website, https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.