Shellfish first, finfish second at Sitka meeting of Board of Fish

A gillnetter fishes in Frederick Sound near Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of Cindi Lagoudakis)

Changes to fisheries for crab, shrimp and other shellfish will be first on the agenda for a meeting of the Board of Fish in Sitka in January.

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The Board decides changes to commercial, sport and personal-use fisheries around the state. Proposals to change fisheries in Southeast Alaska come before the board every three years. This winter the meeting is January 11th through the 23rd and will include both shellfish and finfish proposals.

Glenn Haight is executive director for the board. He said for the past two board cycles, Southeast finfish and shellfish meetings have been separate.

“So for instance three years ago we had the shellfish meeting in Wrangell and the finfish meeting in Sitka and it just, in Wrangell the Board went through the shellfish proposal really fast,” Haight said. “I mean it was a quick meeting. In reviewing that, of course with budget issues, we thought it might make sense to bring ‘em together and save some money and bring all the same folks together at one time.”

With that said, the nine-day meeting will be split into two sessions. In late December the board released a meeting agenda and road map for addressing the more than 150 proposed changes. Shellfish proposals, public testimony and deliberation by the board will be in session one, January 11th through the 14th. Finfish, which includes salmon and herring, will be addressed with a new round of public testimony and deliberations January 15th through the 23rd.

“We always will do public testimony before board meetings,” Haight explained. “In this case we are going have two separate sets of public testimony. So if you’re just focused on finfish for instance, coming the 15th is great, you don’t need to be there on the 11th to give your public testimony. We will do public testimony again on the 15th.”

Shellfish proposals this year include changes to Dungeness, Tanner and king crab fisheries along with shrimp and dive fisheries. The finfish meeting will include competing proposals over the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, along with plans for curtailing the region’s catch of king salmon.

Other proposals would address changes for black cod, ling cod and rockfish, allocation of hatchery salmon and proposed new fisheries for squid and dogfish.

The deadline for written comments on proposals is Thursday December 28th.