Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee has chosen Becca Robbins Gisclair, senior director of Arctic Programs for the NGO Ocean Conservancy, as his first choice to serve on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC).

If approved by the US Secretary of Commerce, she would replace Anne Vanderhoeven, who is government affairs director for the Alaska pollock producer Arctic Storm.

The council plays a key role in managing US fisheries such as Alaska pollock under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law governing marine fisheries management in federal waters.

Council members are largely made up of US seafood industry representatives, representatives from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and state agencies in Alaska, Washington state and Oregon.

While council members are ultimately appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce, Washington's governor is responsible for sending a short list for consideration.

Inslee said in his nomination letter he wanted to appoint someone with "experience in the conservation and management of marine resources."

Robbins Gisclair's previous experience includes working on fishery management and Alaska Native rights for the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and in private practice with the law firm Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP.

In December, she told local Alaska news site KYUK she supported a lawsuit from Alaska Native groups against NOAA seeking to re-examine groundfish catch limits for Alaska's Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.

Alaska tribes are intensely scrutinizing the Alaska pollock fishery, asking about its role in critically low chum salmon counts on the Yukon River now for several years in a row and how Alaska pollock bycatch of salmon plays a role.

Bycatch is non-targeted fish caught while vessels are harvesting a different species.

The NPFMC has also been asked by Alaska fishing groups to limit fishing for other species in red king crab areas, but proposals have so far been shut down by the NPFMC.

Jamie Goen, executive director for Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, on Monday lauded Inslee's nomination.

“Commercial fishermen from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska, along with tribes and recreational fishermen, back Becca Robbins Gisclair and the much-needed conservation perspective she brings to the Council," Goen said.

"Three years ago, the Bering Sea crab fisheries collapsed in part due to climate change. We know firsthand how important it is to keep fisheries sustainable."

How the North Pacific Fishery management Council works

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has an important role in the management of marine resources off Alaska. The council prepares and amends fishery management plans and regulations for the fisheries occurring in federal waters. The council also works very closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board of Fisheries to coordinate management programs in federal and state waters.

The council is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976 to manage fisheries in the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, 3 miles off the coast of Alaska.

The council is made up of appointees from Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. The council, along with the advisory bodies, were formed so federal fishery management decisions could be made at a local level, emphasizing public input.

When reviewing potential rule changes, the council draws upon advisory bodies that include an Advisory Panel (AP), the Plan Teams, and other committees. The council will hear reports from the advisory bodies, and hear in-person public testimony at council meetings before taking final action on rule changes. NOAA prepares regulations based on council action.


  • The Council’s plan teams are standing advisory bodies whose membership includes scientists and managers who review the status of the Council’s Fishery Management Plans, Fishery Ecosystem Plans, and best available social science.
  • The NPFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) is composed of leading scientists in biology, economics, statistics, and social science. The SSC advises the full council on scientific and other technical matters. The SSC also recommends an acceptable biological catch (ABC).
  • The NPFMC Advisory Panel (AP) members represent major segments of the fishing industry; catching and processing, subsistence and commercial fishermen, observers, consumers, environmental/conservation, and sport fishermen. The advisory panel recommends total allowable catch (TAC) specifications to the full council.

The Council meets five times each year, usually in February, April, June, October, and December, with three of the meetings held in Anchorage, one in a fishing community in Alaska and one either in Portland or Seattle.

Source: NPFMC
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