Fish Radio
Budget cuts; Fish Board actions
March 4, 2015

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A first look at fish related budget cuts, and the Board of Fish wraps up in Sitka. More after this –

Pots for catching black cod Credit: Neptune Marine Products

Pots for catching black cod
Credit: Neptune Marine Products

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 The Alaska Legislature is making its way through the budget process, and as the State faces major fiscal shortfalls, few items are safe from cuts.

 The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is facing a 40 percent cut in the $7.5 million it gets from the state. Juneau Resources Weekly reports that the cut is double what Governor Walker had proposed. A House subcommittee recommended that ASMI increase industry fees to support its global marketing efforts.

 Other proposed cuts include $600,000 for the Marine Exchange of Alaska to map vessel tracking gaps; and a nearly $190,000 grant to the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association.

 Also on the chopping block: the small Farm to School program that promotes local foods and fish to state schools. The total program budget is $181,000.

 Turning to the Board of Fisheries – at its Sitka meeting this week the board voted against allowing fishermen to use drones to spot schools of fish.

 It also unanimously opposed changes wanted by the Chum Trollers Association to the way in which hatchery salmon are allocated in Southeast.

 The Board also voted for no changes at the roe herring fishery at Sitka Sound.

 Finally, in an issue that will soon resurface, the Fish Board took no action on proposals to allow pots to be used in the Southeast black cod fishery. At issue is keeping whales away from the catch. Opponents argued that the huge pots that are 10 feet in diameter will pre-empt fishing grounds from longliners, and potentially drive out the small boat fleet.

 The issue will resurface Gulf -wide at the April North Pacific Council meeting. The Board of Fish holds its last meeting of this cycle March 17-20 in Anchorage with the focus on shellfish and miscellaneous issues.

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 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.