Kenai | Executive Director, Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA)
“Boom and bust cycles are thematic across regions and eras of Alaskan history. Feast or famine is common to salmon. Today’s dialogues are not prologue, but coda.”
“It is difficult to envision a meaningful conversation of Alaska's future without discussing the central importance of salmon in the everyday lives of Alaskans,” explains Ricky Gease, the Executive Director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) in Soldotna. “Across the state, salmon are woven tightly into the personal, social, cultural, artistic, recreational, and economic lives of people and communities. Salmon are of indispensable importance in our subsistence and personal use fisheries, the most popular species in our sport fisheries, and a primary driver in our commercial fisheries. Our future health and wellbeing as a state is intricately tied to the future sustainability of salmon.”
Gease has been hooked on salmon since his childhood summers spent fishing for Chinook on the shores of Lake Michigan. He came to Alaska in 1992 and has “led a salmon infused lifestyle” ever since. He and his wife Bunny put up between 100 - 200 salmon each summer, “some smoked, some canned, some frozen, all of it cherished and cared for with love.” Gease will fish and fillet up to 12 hours per day in the summer, dipnetting, sport angling, or at the Kenaitze Tribe’s educational fish net with Bunny, while she works tirelessly tending the smoke house and kitchen canning operations.
Prior to his current position at KRSA, where he has worked for 14 years, Gease held roles as Executive Director at Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, Museum Manager at Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, Park Ranger at Kenai Fjords National Park, and as a K-12 Science Educator at schools in New York and California. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Stanford University and a Foraker Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Gease is deeply engagement in the Kenai area community, serving on a number of commissions, boards, and committees. He is currently a Regulatory Member of the Southcentral Alaska Regional Advisory Council - Federal Subsistence Board, the Alaska Resource Development Council, Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board, and the Legislative Outdoor Heritage Caucus Advisory Council. He participates as a committee member with the American Sportfishing Association Government Affairs (GA), Center for Sportfishing Policy GA, Alaska State Chamber GA, and North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) Halibut Charter Recreational Quota Entity Implementation.
“As a national commissioner for the Morris Deal report, I understand the necessary steps to formulate and communicate a coherent, broad based vision of fisheries in an 18-month timeframe. As a fisheries regulator on the Southcentral Regional Advisory Council, I understand and support the importance of subsistence fisheries in rural Alaska. As a primary advocacy spokesperson for the largest sport and personal use fisheries in Alaska, I understand what it means to be a principal at the epicenter of the Cook Inlet ‘fish wars’ searching for fair and equitable solutions, so that the complex web of commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence fisheries can coexist in a healthy, sustainable manner.”