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Subsistence board won’t release Angoon decision

Bert Adams of the Regional Advisory Committee, Pete Probasco of the subsistence management office and Federal Subsistence Board Chairman Tim Towarak during Wednesday's meeting.

The Federal Subsistence Board for Alaska will not release its position on a village Native corporation’s petition to change management of nearby state fisheries.

The board is considering what’s called an extraterritorial jurisdiction petition from Angoon’s Kootznoowoo Incorporated.

The corporation says state managers have allowed purse seiners to take too many sockeyes, lowering the village’s catch. It wants the federal government to claim jurisdiction over the western Admiralty Island fishery and give subsistence a higher priority.

The board began hearing about the issue Wednesday at its meeting in Juneau.

Peter Probasco is assistant regional director of the federal Office of Subsistence Management. He said the board will send its recommendation to Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar. But he said federal policy prohibits releasing it to the public.

“Secretary Salazar and Secretary Vilsack have retained the authority for where that regulation resides to themselves. And so because of that, and it hasn’t been delegated to the board, all the board can do is make a recommendation that’s confidential, which the secretary will consider along with whatever information he collects from the public, etc,” Probasco said

Probasco said the secretaries usually respond to such recommendations within four to six weeks. He said recommendations have been kept secret in other petition considerations.

Some at the meeting were unhappy the decision will be kept secret. But they said it was not unexpected. Julianne Curry is executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association.

“It’s definitely not ideal. I think it’s definitely something that we’d be looking forward to working on in the future. But for right here, right now, this is the process we have,” Curry said.

The subsistence board will make its decision during an executive session at the end of the public portion of its meeting Friday.

Before that, it will hear from its Southeast Regional Advisory Council. Members are also participating in this week’s meeting.

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