Board of Fisheries Chairman Resigns

Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Karl Johnstone resigned Tuesday after Gov. Bill Walker said he would not submit his name to the legislature for reappointment.

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Rather than wait for his term to expire in June, Johnstone resigned immediately.

His resignation came after the Board of Fisheries blocked a candidate for Fish and Game commissioner from being interviewed for the position.

Gov. Walker’s press secretary, Grace Jang, said only one of four job candidates was interviewed by the Board of Fisheries and Board of Game.

“Well, Governor Walker was very disappointed that the process wasn’t allowed to play out and that only one name was advanced to him,” Jang said. “While he’s very confident that Sam Cotten will make an excellent commissioner and has been doing an excellent job in the past couple of months, he wanted to make sure that the public process was respected.”

Gov. Walker’s office also announced Tuesday that it appointed Cotten as Department of Fish and Game commissioner.

Jang said the governor wants to make sure the public is involved in all processes.

“Gov. Walker thanks Mr. Johnstone for his service. He wants new ideas on the board, essentially,” Jang said.

Johnstone could not be reached for comment.

His resignation is effective Jan. 27, after the Board of Fisheries finishes a meeting in Wrangell to consider Southeast shellfish proposals.

Governor Walker nominated Roland Maw, the candidate rejected by the Board of Fisheries, to fill the vacancy left by Johnstone. Maw’s appointment must be approved by the state legislature.

Johnstone has served on the Board of Fisheries since 2008.