***There is an important update to this story at: King Goal Reversed 5-2***
Fish Board Member Tom Kluberton will move to reconsider yesterday’s decision to raise the late run Kenai King goal.
The slim 4-3 vote (with Kluberton, Johnstone, Huntington, and Morisky in favor) raised the goal from 15,000-30,000 to 16,600-30,000. Kluberton said he’s since learned that the Department has been acting more conservatively than he first thought, which makes him more comfortable with the lower escapement goal.
Kluberton: “I think at this point, it’s convinced myself it’s too soon in the mix to intervene as a Board in that, so I’m going to live with the SEG. I’m content to move forward with the SEG as it stands, and don’t see the need for the OEG.”
Kluberton said he also underestimated the economic impact that the change would have on the fisheries on the Kenai Peninsula.
The goal was lowered last year, based on a recommendation from the Department, after a new method of counting kings was introduced in 2012.
Board Member Orville Huntington said he agreed with Kluberton’s reversal of position, and said he doesn’t agree with making decisions outside of ADF&G models, which was what happened yesterday while he was “tired” and gave in to pressure.
Huntington: “I think Tom’s right. I agree with him. Not only that, but I don’t feel it’s right to go outside the [Department] model that was presented. When you change that data, then you’re not even looking at the same model, and I tried to emphasize that before I got tired and I kind of gave up. But one of the things you do is you violate the assumptions of those models, and I don’t think that was the intent I had. I just was up since earlier than I normally get up for a meeting and then I went all day and that affected my decision-making yesterday. I think in Kodiak I accused the Department of making some pretty silly mistakes and in this case, I think I made a mistake.”
Board Chair Karl Johnstone said he doesn’t feel it’s good for the process to reverse decisions this way, but since Board Members feel they have discovered new information, they are permitted to make a motion to reconsider.
Johnstone: “When all of a sudden the forecast came out and it showed there weren’t as many kings as we all hoped there’d be, at that point it became apparent to them [the letter writers] if this 20,000 was put into regulation, it very likely would result in no fishing in the river, or for others as well. And at that time, it wasn’t as convenient to have to have this proposal on the table, and so the support dwindled in my opinion.”
Board Members Karl Johnstone and Reed Morisky were the only ones to oppose reconsideration.