Heather Bauscher works the gear aboard the troller I Gotta in Sitka Sound. Bauscher led the Sitka Advisory Committee through over 20 meetings as it vetted dozens of fisheries management proposals for the area — a critical part of the state’s management process. (Eric Jordan photo)

Sitka’s Fish & Game Advisory Committee has been recognized by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, for exceptional service, especially on the part of its chair, Heather Bauscher.

Board chair Märit Carlson-Van Dort made the presentation Sunday morning (3-13-21), midway through the Board’s 14-day 2022 Southeast Finfish and Shellfish meeting in Anchorage.

“Before we break for lunch, I wanted to take a minute to recognize some exemplary service on an advisory committee,” said Carlson-Van Dort. “Heather Bauscher is the chair of the Sitka Advisory Committee. She was elected in the fall of 2020, following the resignation of a long serving chairman. In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, she embraced the new Zoom meeting format, and created additional opportunities for members of the public to participate in the AC process through web conferencing technology. The Sitka AC held more than 20 meetings to address the Board of Fisheries Southeast finfish and shellfish proposals. And under Heather’s direction, the Sitka AC held weekly meetings, and sometimes, as she mentioned earlier, meeting twice, and even three times a week to weigh in on local proposals and topics relevant beyond Southeast Alaska. As chair, Heather uses her position to facilitate constructive dialogue between members and helps focus the advisory committee activity into tangible formats, including letters, resolutions, and comments to governing bodies. And Heather, we just want to thank you so much for your service and your exemplary leadership on the Sitka AC. Thank you. Well done.”

Sitka Advisory Committee chair Heather Bauscher (c.) with Alaska Fish & Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang, and Alaska Board of Fisheries chair Märit Carlson-Van Dort. (Photo provided.)

At her next appearance before the board, which came shortly after lunch, Bauscher credited her fellow committee members – 17 of them, all volunteers – and the many Fish & Game biologists who contribute to AC, for making the process in Sitka exceptional.

“I want to say thank you earlier for that award,” Bauscher said. “I was completely shocked and caught off guard and really appreciate it and want to express so much gratitude to the whole Advisory Committee because this wouldn’t have gone this well without all their support and mentorship, and I’m grateful to all the people in the community for working through us on all those meetings.”

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is the regulatory body in the state. It meets every two years to consider dozens of proposals for management of Southeast Alaska’s fisheries – every one of which is vetted by a local advisory committee – or “AC”– like the one in Sitka.