Fish Radio

Fish bill updates with Rep. Stutes

April 6, 2016

Rep. Louise Stutes, (R) Kodiak, chairs the AK House Fisheries Committee

Rep. Louise Stutes, (R) Kodiak, chairs the AK House Fisheries Committee

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – The status of fishing bills in the Alaska legislature. That’s up after this —

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With just 10 days left in the Alaska legislative session fish bills have taken a back seat to the state budget.  Representative Louise Stutes of Kodiak chairs the House Fisheries Committee and gave a status report on several measures.

A bill dubbed the Alaskans-First Fishing Act, introduced seven times by Senator Bill Stoltz of Chugiak, aims to give personal-use fisheries a priority over sport and commercial users whenever fishing restrictions are imposed by managers.     Does that have a chance of moving?


Stutes was as straight forward on another loser – HB 220 by Healy Republican David Talerico. That would  give “enhancement permits” to  Alaskans to let them grow fish and  release them wherever they want into the wild.

 I told him it’s got problems. It’s creating problems.  It’s dead.   

Likewise, a bill that would boost fisheries taxes by 12.5 percent won’t see the light of day.

Dunleavy’s bill.  DOA  

One bill getting legs is creating community permit banks to keep more fishing privileges in the hands of Alaskans.  HB 366 by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka gets a hearing on Thursday. Stutes says it has some issues –

There’s going to be no public testimony but we are going to hear it so he can get more input. That is his objective to get more input because he knows there is a lot of push back. There is a lot of concern about current permit holders and what’s going to happen to the value of their permits. When it started out you had to live in this area to get a permit from the banking area. That is unconstitutional. You can’t do that.     Any Alaskan can have access  to any permit in any permit bank but you have to fish it in the area where the permit bank is.  

Also in the Fish Committee is Governor Walker’s proposal for a one percent fisheries tax increase across the board.   Stutes wants to give half of the tax to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which is being axed from the state budget.

Which in fact takes ASMI off the general fund, it funds them, the better they market our seafood, the higher price it is, the more money comes back to the state.  So I’m going to put it in as an amendment and all I have to do is get it through Senate finance. Ya know, we’ve got some senators that are just anti commercial fishing. It’s really bad.            

Stutes, who is in her second year in the state house, says she is floored by the legislature’s lack of regard for Alaska’s fishing industry.

It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. It is so apparent. What do you think held this state up before we had oil?   I think they would prefer not to think about it.  

But with oil tanking, that tide might be turning –

It’s increasing since we no longer have oil. People are understanding. I think it is going to be good for the Dept. of Fish and Game too because this is our number one resource now. This is a renewable resource and oil is not. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We need a department   that is going to maintain our renewable sustainable healthy resource. I think they are beginning to hear it.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.    In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.