Legislators School Up to Address Fish Issues
For Immediate Release: January 26, 2001
Senator Alan Austerman at (907) 465-2487
(JUNEAU) -- With commercial fishing serving as the lifeblood of many Alaska communities, legislators from coastal districts met for the first time today in a Fish Caucus established to provide a forum for discussion of the seafood industry's interests in the Capitol.
"Seafood is Alaska's original renewable resource, and it continues today as the state's second-largest industry in terms of employment," said Rep. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) "Fishing is the economic foundation of my community and many others in Alaska, and the Fish Caucus will ensure that their concerns are well-represented here in the Juneau."
The meeting drew representatives of many statewide fishing organizations, and several legislators whose home districts are involved in the seafood industry. Representatives attending included Reps. Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River), John Harris (R-Valdez), Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), Joe Green (R-Anchorage), Bill Hudson (R-Juneau), Drew Scalzi (R-Homer), and Peggy Wilson (R-Wrangell). Senators attending included Senate President Rick Halford (R-Chugiak) and Sen. Jerry Ward (R-Anchorage).
As a first order of business, the caucus elected Sen. Alan Austerman (R-Kodiak) to serve as chairman. Austerman said the caucus will take up a wide range of issues as the session progresses, but added he first wants to ensure all caucus members appreciate each other's perspectives and concerns.
"My first emphasis will be to educate each member of the group on all segments of the fishing industry - commercial, sport and subsistence - and then we can move on to actually working on the issues associated with each one," Austerman said. "We'll get the best outcome from the Fish Caucus if we have an educated group of people participating."
Such a foundation will prepare the caucus to address issues ranging from the real relationship between Stellar sea lions and pollock, to Yukon-Kuskokwim salmon stocks, to the impact of federal subsistence control of fisheries, he said.
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Audio comments are available on the Majority Actuality line:
= Gary Stevens, 81 K