22nd Alaska State Legislature
Mariculture Regulations Under Scrutiny
For Immediate Release: February 8, 2001
Contact: Jim Pound from Rep. Lesil McGuire's Office at (907) 465-5446
(JUNEAU) -- Staff from the department of Fish and Game found themselves answering some tough questions Thursday from members of the Administrative Regulation Review Committee. At issue was a January 8, 2001 public hearing on proposed mariculture regulations. At that meeting Mariculture Supervisor Ken Imamura verified that because of security measures at the Anchorage Fish & Game Building the outside doors to the building were locked. Arrangements had been made to have a security guard on hand, but that individual failed to show up. Members of the Department started and continued the meeting even though the doors were locked. Around the state several teleconference locations were also not permitted to testify at the meeting adding to the Committee's concern over public access.
After several complaints were filed, Committee Chair, Representative Lesil McGuire (R) Anchorage called the meeting to allow the public to comment. Representative McGuire opened the meeting explaining that it was called to find out what happened January 8, and what the Department was doing to correct the problem. She added that it is her intent as the Chair to take a cooperative rather than an adversarial approach with the departments to attempt to reach an awareness of regulations and the process utilized to approve them.
While the meeting was not aimed at the specific regulations, concerns by members of the Mariculture Community about the regs were also referenced in public testimony. Senator Georgianna Lincoln (D) Rampart, asked Commercial fisheries Director Doug Mecum why the regulations could not be put on hold? Mecum responded that delaying the regulations is an option available to Fish & Game. Representative McGuire reemphasized the Committee's desire to see the regulations delayed, possibly re-written and the sent back out to the public process.
Representative Jeannette James (R) North Pole stressed her concern that these regulations were written without first being discussed with the people they affected. She added that the legislature has passed law that allows agencies to first discuss the idea of regulations with the stakeholders before any proposed regulations are released for public comment. Mecum says the department plans on holding a panel discussion on February 7, 2001 to discuss the regulations and decide then how to proceed.
There are currently regulations in place that would allow current shellfish farmers to operate this coming year. That according to some would be the best way for the department to manage the 2001 season.
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