Check here for United Fishermen of Alaska’s Fishing Facts for every AK town, plus WA, OR, CA  

The proposed budget for Alaska’s commercial fisheries division is just under $69.5 million, a drop of about $3 million, according to the House fisheries committee.

Will fishermen be forced to pick up the slack with more ‘test fishing’? Will positions, research programs or salmon weirs be cut causing foregone harvest?

Who knows, due to the governor’s gag order…

                     March 28-30 in Kodiak

A newly energized House fisheries committee is set to keep those issues in the spotlight, chaired by Representative Louise Stutes of Kodiak. The committee also includes Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham; Geran Tarr, Chuck Copp and Lance Pruitt of Anchorage, ise Sarah Vance of Homer and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka.  Louise Stutes —

 “We are going to focus on fish, fish and more fish, and how important and critical it is that we sustain our fisheries in a healthy manner.  And part of that equation is making sure that the Department of Fish and Game is fully funded.”

The fish committee has some new faces from fishing towns and gets a thumbs up from Fishermen of Alaska, says director Frances Leach.

“We’re really excited about the new fish committee – some new faces on there from coastal communities and I think that’s going to be a great benefit, and Stutes is the chair and she really knows how to run the show. I think it’s’ going to be a great committee.”

UFA and the fisheries committee also support a bill relating to participation on the Boards of Fisheries that resolves conflicts of interest.   Louise Stutes –

 “This bill will ensure that people who are sitting on the boards have an opportunity to participate in the discussion even if they can’t vote.  That’s why they are there, because of their expertise, and right now they are conflicted out.”

Advancing shellfish and seaweed mariculture also is a focus, says Frances Leach.

“We’re really excited about that because if all goes through we are forecasting in 20 years to have it be a $100 million industry.”    

UFA opposes Dunleavy’s plan to divert fish taxes from communities to state coffers.

“We’re very concerned for our coastal communities and believe it will cause a lot of hardship for the communities that support the industry. And not just for the fishermen – for the towns that use that money for education and infrastructure and that concerns us because it starts impacting everybody.”

Leach says UFA will be working the halls to make sure policy makers realize the importance of the seafood industry to all Alaskans.

UFA is proud of the fact that commercial fishing is the number one private sector employer in the state of Alaska and we employ over 60,000 men and women and I think that’s often forgotten. So it is important reminder that we are working hard to bring in money to the state and help our economy.

UFA is the nation’s largest commercial fishing trade organization with 35 diverse member groups.