The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced nominees for two seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commision, and a Homer man and a consultant for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association are among the candidates.
Kevin Delaney, a sportfishing representative for the recently concluded Upper Cook Inlet Task Force, and Donald Lane, a Homer-based halibut fishermen and owner-operator of the fishing vessel Predator, are two of 13 nominees for the U.S. seats on the commission.
A call for nominations was originally put out early last year. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service decided to reissue the call for nominations in February.
According to the call for nominations in the federal register, heightened interest by diverse user groups, the lapse of time since the original nominees expressed interest in appointment and consideration of balanced representation on the commission played a role in the decision to begin the process again.
Lane has been involved in halibut issues as a commercial and sport fisherman for more than 30 years.
"I'm very aware of how important the halibut resource is to coastal Alaskan
communities and what it means to the economies and ... all the user groups, subsistence, recreational sport users, sport charter industry and the commercial industry," Lane said.
Lane said he has been attending halibut commission meetings for more than 15 years has done research charter work for the commission as well.
"My strength is my relationship with the coastal Alaskan communities, I think I have a good understanding of the importance of the halibut resource and making sure that resource is sustainable," Lane said.
Delaney, who retired from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as the director of the Division of Sportfish, is a Colorado resident who has been involved in Alaska's fisheries for decades.
"I have a history of fisheries management, I'm probably considered an expert in fisheries management, I am well versed in fisheries science and I have a lot of experience in the process of crafting policy," Delaney said.
While he said he did not think of the seats on the commission were there to "represent only one point of view" Delaney said the halibut commission has not had a voice that "represents and understands the sportfishing industry."
Delaney said he is up for the "non-Alaskan" seat on the commission and said he was interested in the halibut commission's focus on the science of halibut biology rather than specific allocation issues.
"The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council does more of the management of the halibut fishery, there is some crossover in terms of recommendations but clearly the halibut commission has a very proud history of sticking with the science," Delaney said.
No deadline has been established for the positions to be filled as the process for final nomination has to make its way to the president's office.
"There's no way to nail down a date," said Julie Speegle, spokesperson for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"We at the regional level go through the nominations and then forward the list to the Department of Commerce, then the State Department also reviews all the nominees, there's congressional input ... then the recommendations will be sent to the White House," she said.
Public comments on the nominees will be accepted until March 18 and can be emailed to IPHC2013comments@noaa.gov.