New Board Of Fisheries Appointee Is Pebble Partnership Director Of Regional Affairs

The Alaska Board of Fisheries appointed Abe Williams to its board. Williams is a fourth-generation commercial fisherman. He’s also the director of regional affairs for the Pebble Partnership, which wants to build a mine in the Bristol Bay region, which has been met with fierce opposition over fears about the impact on Bristol Bay’s salmon runs.

Needless to say, that potential conflict of interest has created some concern. Here’s KTUU with more:

“I recognize the concern out there, and many folks probably don’t necessarily agree with my position in regard to that project. But I’ve sat down with numerous fishermen in regard to regulation and or concerns that we’ve seen eye-to-eye on,” Williams told KTUU. “My job finds me in communities like Iliamna and other communities talking about the project itself and kind of what it means for the region. Does that preclude me from being appointed or sitting on the Board of Fisheries? I don’t think so. I think it just brings in a level of diversity in my background that really helps me be better positioned to sit in a coveted spot like this, if you will.”

Williams says that he became involved with the Pebble Project around 2010.

“I was still on the Paug-Vik board as president and coming out of some very poor years with regard to price-per-pound for sockeye and how that had certain effects on the region economically. It opened my eyes to different options to make sure we weren’t losing our population to out-migration,” Williams said. “So it’s really allowed me to just become well-informed on how we develop our resources and where we do that and how we do it responsibly.”

KTUU’s piece featured some of the opposition for the appointment of Williams, so it’s worth a read. Trout Unlimited of Alaska also sent out a release on Wednesday afternoon questioning the board’s appointment. Here’s the release:

In response to the appointment of Mr. Abe Williams to the Board of Fisheries, Nelli Williams, Alaska director of Trout Unlimited issued the following statement:

“Whether you are a commercial, sport, or subsistence fishermen, Abe Williams’ appointment to the Board of Fisheries is absurd and makes clear where Governor Dunleavy’s allegiances lie. Mr. Williams has been on the Pebble Partnership’s payroll for years and is a long-time advocate for the proposed Pebble mine without regard for the massive impacts it would have for Bristol Bay salmon. The Board of Fisheries is charged with conserving and developing our fisheries, but if the legislature confirms this appointment it will send the message that it’s okay to trade away a prized wild salmon and trout fishery.”

This is at least the second person with strong ties to the Pebble Partnership that has been appointed by the Governor to natural resource management positions.