The head of United Fishermen of Alaska — the state’s broadest fishing industry group — is stepping down at the end of the year to become a full-time Juneau lobbyist.
Frances Leach says she’ll be starting her own firm — Capitol Compass — so she can take on more clients than the fishing industry group she’d represented in the state Capitol over the past four years.
“I’m really excited to continue lobbying for an industry that I really have a lot of respect for,” she said Wednesday. “But then also be able to lobby for other things that I care about greatly like environmental issues, and nonprofits.”
UFA is one of Alaska’s largest commercial fishing industry groups. It’s a big tent organization that includes a variety of gear groups and vessel types.
Leach says commercial fishermen needed more advocates they could call upon to represent them in state government.
“After having a presence up at the legislature, I recognized that the commercial fishing industry needed some other voices, helping them out up there,” she said.
Leach has worked as UFA’s executive director since 2018. Before that she worked for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s as a staffer to the Board of Fisheries.
As executive director, Leach was outspoken against the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay and threats posed to Southeast Alaska’s salmon runs from Canadian mines.
UFA has posted a job ad on its website seeking a new executive director, with an application deadline for September 24. Lobbying records show her most recent UFA salary was $95,000.