Category Archives: Press Release

Press Release: Dunleavy Administration Supports Allocative Decisions in Facebook Post on Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries Meeting

    Governor Dunleavy’s state-run Facebook Page recently published a message from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner speaking to a clear allocative preference for sport and personal use fishery users over others – particularly commercial fishermen. 

    While the Board of Fisheries is tasked with making allocative decisions, the State of Alaska manages and conserves a vibrant diversity of fisheries for the benefit and well-being of all Alaskans – whether they are subsistence harvesters, recreational users, commercial harvesters, seafood consumers or personal use fishermen. United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), Alaska’s statewide commercial fishing trade association, is disappointed at this recent departure from the Department’s longstanding policy of remaining neutral on allocative decisions. 

    The lead-in text of the post reads, “Alaskans in southcentral had some big wins from the recent Board of Fisheries meeting” but failed to note that such “wins” are allocative, as was described by Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner, Doug Vincent-Lang. The posted video lauded Board of Fisheries decisions that would decrease harvest opportunities for Alaskan commercial fishermen in the Cook Inlet Region in order to create a new personal use fishery in the Susitna River and increase sockeye and king salmon escapements to the Kenai River. 

    UFA supports Alaskans’ ability to put food on their plates in a variety of ways. For those Alaskans who don’t have the time, money, desire, or ability to sport or personal-use fish, the commercial fishing industry is their access to Cook Inlet’s shared sustainable salmon resource. In Cook Inlet, 82% of drift and setnet salmon permit holders are Alaska residents who provide local salmon to thousands of Alaskans. All told, in 2019 Cook Inlet commercial fishermen and three local processors provided over 2.6 million pounds of seafood to markets and restaurants on the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and communities in the Valley for Alaskan’s consumption. Additionally, 258 Alaskan commercial fishermen, many of whom fish in Cook Inlet, provide seafood access for individual residents — their families, friends and neighbors in Alaskan communities across the state. With only 160,000 resident sport fishing licenses sold across the state each year, Alaskans best access to seafood resources is through the commercial fishing industry. 

    Alaska’s seafood industry employs nearly 60,000 workers annually in Alaska making it the state’s largest private sector employer. It further contributes $2.1 billion in labor income, second only to oil and gas among private sector industries. There are 6,600 resident-owned fishing vessels in the state with each fishing operation representing a business that is generating income from a 100% renewable resource. 

    The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner stated in his recorded remarks, “All in all this was a win for recreational fishermen and personal fishermen in the state – and a win for conservation because we ended up not only providing some additional harvest opportunities, but we took some real solid steps in conserving these fish stocks for future generations.” 

    UFA is disappointed the Commissioner chose to celebrate through a state-sponsored communication platform the positive outcomes for recreational and personal use fishermen, without even acknowledging the associated cost to other user groups. The remarks communicate a blatant disregard for the losers in this scenario, namely Alaskan residents who depend on commercial fisheries in the Cook Inlet Region, and the individual Alaskans who access the resource by purchasing commercially harvested fish. Alaskans trust that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is providing the Board of Fisheries the best available fishery science while remaining neutral on allocative issues so the Board of Fisheries can make the best possible decision for all Alaskans. The Board of Fisheries is a public process; statements from the department that indicate they favor one user group over another erodes the trust of the public. 

    “The celebration of allocative decisions that result in winners or losers is an inappropriate response for the Governor’s office and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner to declare, especially when it is their responsibility as state officials to represent all Alaskans, which includes many user groups and economies,” said Matt Alward, President of UFA. “There are winners and losers at virtually every Board of Fisheries meeting… it is imperative that the Department remains neutral on allocative issues while providing the best available science and advocates for the resource, not individual user groups.” 

    Alaska’s commercial fishing industry is as committed to sustainable wild runs and conservation efforts as their sports and personal use fishing counterparts. The implication of this statement, and the use of a state-sponsored platform, suggests a strong preference towards certain user groups, agendas, and regions and sends a message that Alaska is not “open for business” for commercial fishing. 

    Press Release: United Fishermen of Alaska Announces Selection of Scott Kelley as Executive Administrator

      For Immediate Release

      Contact: Frances Leach, Executive Director
      Office (907)586-2820

      United Fishermen of Alaska Announces Selection of Scott Kelley as Executive Administrator

      United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), Alaska’s statewide commercial fishing trade association, is pleased to announce the hiring of Scott Kelley as its Executive Administrator effective June, Mr. Kelley, a Juneau resident, brings vast experience in commercial fisheries as the former Director of Commercial Fisheries for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

      “Scott’s immense knowledge of commercial fisheries in Alaska is well-respected and his relationship with commercial fishermen is extremely valuable. We are very lucky to have him join our organization,” said UFA Executive Director Frances Leach.

      Mr. Kelley is replacing retiring UFA employee Mark Vinsel who has worked for UFA for 18 years in several capacities, including Executive Director.

      UFA is the statewide commercial fishing umbrella association, representing 35 member organizations from fisheries throughout Alaska and its offshore waters.

      Press Release: UFA Welcomes At-Large Board Members and Executive Committee

        For Immediate Release 

        Contact:  Frances Leach, Executive Director,  (907) 586-2820

        UFA Welcomes At-Large Board Members and Executive Committee

        United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) is pleased to announce the re-election of Bruce Schactler and the election of Tyson Fick, Melanie Brown, and Cynthia Wallesz to the UFA board of directors as at-large members. UFA’s individual and lifetime members elect four at-large directors every two years to represent the more than 450 individual, lifetime, and crew members on the organization’s board. The at-large directors will serve two-year terms beginning April 15, 2019 on the UFA Board of Directors. Also taking effect on April 15 is the return of Duncan Fields to the UFA Executive Committee as Administrative Chair.

        UFA welcomes the return of Tyson Fick and Cynthia Wallesz to the board, now as elected at-large members. Fick represented the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers group from 2017 to 2018 and Wallesz represented United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters on the UFA board from 2015 to 2018.

        Tyson Fick previously worked as communications director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute as well as executive director at ABSC. Based in Juneau, he now fishes Southeast salmon gillnet, salmon handtroll, and Dungeness crab, and is a co-owner of Taku River Reds.

        Cynthia Wallesz of Petersburg, Alaska and Boise Idaho has been a Southeast salmon drift gillnetter for 25 years and direct marketing her family’s salmon since 1999. She has also longlined for halibut, and fished Dungeness crab in Washington, and has been active in the Petersburg Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, and Southeast Alaska Rainforest Wild. Since earning a Master’s degree in Sustainable Business in 2012, she has consulted with small businesses and nonprofits to help them strategize their futures, work efficiently and meet their goals.

        Melanie Brown of Juneau has been fishing since 1979 in her family’s Bristol Bay setnet operation and as a crew member in Togiak herring, Kotzebue Sound and Norton Sound setnet fisheries. She is an alternate member of the Juneau Douglas Advisory Committee and in her second term on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Salmon Species Committee, and a board member of Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

        Bruce Schactler of Kodiak, has fished salmon seining in Southeast and Kodiak, Tanner crab in Kodiak and Togiak, longlining for cod and halibut, and herring throughout the state. He also is the Director of the Alaska Global Food Aid Program with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and National Director for the National Seafood Marketing Coalition. He co-authored the UFA Marketing Plan in 2001 which led to USDA Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for seafood, USDA Trade Adjustment Assistance eligibility for fishermen, and inclusion of Alaska salmon and herring in food aid programs. Mr. Schactler has served as an at-large board member since 1993 and received the 2013 UFA Fisherman of the Year award, and will continue in his role on the executive committee as UFA Marketing chair.

        The UFA Executive committee was elected at the spring meeting in February with seats taking effect on April 15. Changes for 2019 include Jerry McCune as chairman of UFA’s Environmental Issues committee, and the return of Duncan Fields as chairman of the UFA Admin committee, which he previously held from 2011 to 2015. UFA’s officers Matt Alward (President), Bob Kehoe (Vice President), and Chad See (Secretary) were each re-elected to serve another one year term.

        United Fishermen of Alaska is the statewide commercial fishing trade association, representing 35 Alaska commercial fishing organizations participating in fisheries throughout the state and adjacent offshore federal waters. More information is online at .