Editor’s note: A call to the Kenai River Sportfishing Association office in Soldotna seeking comment was referred to Eldon Mulder, chair of KRSA. Mulder was unavailable for comment on this story by press time Tuesday.
By Jenny Neyman
United Fishermen of Alaska leadership says the organization is prepared to see the process through as it awaits response in pursuit of recourse to its allegations that someone at the Kenai River Sportfishing Association eavesdropped on a teleconference of a UFA board of directors meeting.
“We intend to follow it through to some sort of logical and final conclusion,” said Bruce Wallace, interim president of UFA, a commercial fishing trade association representing 34 member organizations in Alaska.
In a Feb. 12 press release, UFA announced that on Feb. 8 it “began the process of turning over information to the authorities with the expectation that a full investigation would be initiated.”
Wallace said that UFA’s lawyer has been in contact with the district attorney’s office in Juneau and was awaiting a response, with the realization that patience might be required as the DA’s office has a plate full of other matters.
“All I know for sure is it’s in an investigative phase,” Wallace said. “I expect this will take awhile to go through the office.”
UFA held a board of directors teleconference Jan. 17, with members calling in from around the state to discuss appointments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, particularly recommendations for a vacancy which Gov. Sean Parnell filled Feb. 6 with the appointment of Fairbanks guide and charter operator Reed Morisky.
In a Jan. 31 letter to KRSA board members and chair, Eldon Mulder, also copied to the governor, Wallace alleges that, “We have since learned that about 20 minutes into our meeting, someone at the offices of Kenai River Sportfishing Association surreptitiously and without authorization joined the call and listened in on our discussion for approximately 70 minutes.”
Further, “We have also learned that information about the substance of our discussion during the teleconference was transmitted to the chair of the Board of Fisheries, who has since confirmed that he received ‘detailed information’ concerning the substance of our teleconference.”
In its Feb. 12 press release, UFA states that the teleconference vendor provided a phone log of the teleconference, which included a number registered to the KRSA headquarters in Soldotna. No one from that office or organization was invited to participate in the call, nor did anyone uninvited announce his or her entry to the teleconference.
“KRSA is not affiliated with UFA in any way. KRSA is not a member of UFA. KRSA was not invited by UFA to join the teleconference. The person or persons who listened in on UFA’s meeting from the KRSA offices did not acknowledge their presence when joining the teleconference,” the release states.
The teleconference phone number is sent to board members a few days before a meeting, Wallace said. Upon calling the number, participants enter a code to be connected to the teleconference.
“Clearly (KRSA) knew when the conference call was, knew what the phone number was and, more importantly than anything, knew what the conference access code was. It was obviously not as secure as it should have been,” Wallace said.