Jul 25, 2009
Remember a while back we voiced skepticism when the NPFMC, in answer to waves of criticism for their lack of rural input in determining the salmon bycatch cap, announced the creation of a Rural Community Outreach Committee?
The committee will hold meetings in urban areas and invite tribal and Native leaders, he said. Council members and staff will also travel to predominantly Native rural Alaska to meet with people there.
So where do they kick it off? In Anchorage on August 12.
A group meant to inform rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives about federal fishery issues will meet for the first time in August.
The seven-member Rural Community Outreach Committee will serve as an advisory group to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
And what else that might be of interest to rural Alaskans is happening August 12? President Obama’s Rural Tour is making a stop in Bethel.
The August 12 visit to Bethel will include Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. They’ll be discussing rural infrastructure, green jobs and climate change, the White House said.
It seems that every time there’s a problem in Alaska they create a new committee, agency or board. Six months from now this will probably be the RCOC – a bland addition to Alaska’s recipe for alphabet soup. Will it be an improvement?
Starting off with the first meeting in Anchorage at a time when most rural dwellers are busy preparing for winter isn’t very sensitive, especially when the agenda for this meeting will set the stage for future meetings.
On the agenda:
Review purpose of the committee per Council direction:
1) to advise the Council on how to provide opportunities for better understanding and participation from AK Native and rural communities;
2) to provide feedback on community impacts sections of specific analyses; and
3) to provide recommendations regarding which proposed Council actions need a
specific outreach plan and prioritize multiple actions when necessary.
• Discuss how the meetings will be conducted (e.g., consensus vs. vote; no-host, etc.)
• Discuss frequency & location of meetings
• Budget information/considerations
Probably the most significant indicator that this will be a less than effective solution to the problems facing rural Alaskans is that the members of the committee are not struggling to feed their families and heat their homes come winter.
The committee is no-host, as are all Council committees, so members must pay for their own travel and accommodations.
The NPFMC newsletter states clearly what the committee isn’t:
Note that this committee is not intended as the primary mechanism for community input on specific Council actions, instead, it is intended to assist the Council in improving the overall outreach process and analyses relevant to community and Native concerns.
So here’s a list of committee members who have the means to serve on this committee – are they your neighbors?
Committee members are as follows: Eric Olson (Chair), Duncan Fields (Council member), Pete Probasco, Paula Cullenberg, Jennifer Hooper, Ole Olsen, and Tom Okleasik. The intent is to have a committee meeting over the summer and report back to the Council in the fall/winter.
Rural Alaskans, pool your money and send a delegation to Bethel on August 12. Once there, corner Ken Salazar and explain to him about bycatch and why he needs to look closely at the NPFMC bycatch cap before he approves it. The ROCO is not the answer!