Home » News » I’m just a proposal: How the Alaska Board of Fisheries forges regulations

I’m just a proposal: How the Alaska Board of Fisheries forges regulations

The 'Board of Fish,' sets regulations that govern Alaska fishing and involves 100s of residents. Learn how to become part of the process.

by | March 29, 2024

Alaska Board of Fisheries

Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting participants gather at the Cordova Center on Dec. 1, 2021. File photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith for the Cordova Times. Used by permission of The Cordova Times.

If you are a certain age, you may remember Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill,” with a catchy cartoon character singing about the steps involved in how a bill becomes law. You can easily imagine a similar cartoon describing the Alaska Board of Fisheries process for establishing regulations from the idea stage to final approval. 

The regulatory process is considered one of the most open regulatory processes in Alaska. There are lots of opportunities for the public to weigh in on the management of Alaska’s fishery resources. Anyone can bring concerns and ideas (i.e proposals) to the Board of Fisheries (BOF). The process, however, is set up to encourage collaboration. 

First step: Ideas and proposals 

Ideas for fishing regulations are usually expressed as proposals, which can cover concerns with existing regulations or ideas for new regulations. 

The public can take their ideas directly to BOF, or what we affectionately call the Board of Fish. A great first step is to take them to their local advisory committee. These advisory committees discuss fish and wildlife issues and make recommendations to the Alaska boards of fisheries and game. Currently there are more than 700 Alaskans serving on 84 advisory committees throughout Alaska. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) can also develop their own proposals to submit to the BOF for consideration.

Second step: Discussion and information

As mentioned above, you don’t need to go through an advisory committee to submit a proposal. But going through an advisory committee is a fantastic way to get your ideas discussed and vetted before proceeding in the process. If an advisory committee submits your idea as a committee proposal, it demonstrates broader support for the proposal.

The advisory committee will also discuss and provide comments and recommendations to the BOF on other proposals that would impact local resources.

ADF&G biologists play a role in the advisory committees by providing information related to ideas brought forth and to help with the crafting of proposals.

Third step: BOF considers proposals

The BOF is made up of seven people appointed by Alaska’s governor and approved by the legislature. Each member serves a three-year term. The BOF’s main duty is to pass regulations to conserve and develop Alaska’s fisheries resources including making allocative and regulatory decisions. 

The BOF meets four to six times a year in different communities around the state. Proposals from each major region are usually considered once every three years, with statewide proposals considered once a year. 

At BOF meetings, each proposal is introduced and discussed, with participation from the public encouraged. At a typical meeting, you may hear from the author of the proposal, the local advisory committee, the regional ADF&G biologist, and members from the public. The BOF also relies on guidance from the Alaska Department of Public Safety and Alaska Department of Law.

The public and advisory committees may make comments, both in writing and via oral testimony. The BOF members often have additional questions that they will bring up at the meetings. It is a structured, yet open process to encourage public participation. You can also watch the meetings live via links provided on the ADF&G website, making meetings accessible to anyone in the state with decent internet access. 

As you can imagine, people get passionate talking about their livelihoods and general ways of life including opportunities to harvest fish in subsistence, commercial, personal use, and recreational fisheries.  

The BOF reaches decisions by a majority vote of the board. At the end of a BOF meeting, a Summary of Actions is shared with the public via the BOF pages on the ADF&G website. 

This summary includes the status of every proposal considered: carried, carried as amended, failed, failed as amended, or no action, as well as links to the BOF meeting recordings. The BOF just concluded its Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting, and you can already find all the information related to that meeting.

Once the BOF makes its decisions, they are given a legal review and made official by the lieutenant governor. 

Intersection of aquaculture and BOF

There are a couple of ways that CIAA intersects with the BOF process. First, we provide our main conference room free of charge for the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee meetings. Providing the use of our conference room for this advisory committee is one of the services we provide to the natural resource community. 

And as a side note, several CIAA board members serve as volunteers on various advisory committees as part of their own service to the community.

Second, we participate in salmon aquaculture proposal development as well as provide information and testimony on proposals submitted that would impact salmon aquaculture operations (positively and negatively). 

At the recent Upper Cook Inlet meeting, the BOF heard a lot of testimony against a proposal that would have lowered hatchery production levels. After hearing the testimony and information provided by ADF&G, the BOF decided against the proposal (recorded as “Failed”).

Go Deeper

Learn more about Alaska’s fisheries regulation process from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

You May Also Like

Upcoming Events

See Full Calendar →

STAY IN TOUCH WITH CIAA

Follow CIAA's monthly newsletter to learn more about local aquaculture.

We promise we’ll never spam! Take a look at our Privacy Policy for more info.

Follow CIAA on Facebook