Fish Radio
Kodiak leads charge to protect fishing budget
December 22, 2016

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch. Kodiak leads the charge to protect the state’s fishing budget. More after this –

Kodiak is home to more seafood processing plants than any port in AK Credit: Kodiak Maritime Museum

Kodiak is home to more seafood processing plants than any port in AK
Credit: Kodiak Maritime Museum

Alaskan Quota & Permits in Petersburg works hard for fishermen so they can do what they do best – fish! Visit www.alaskabroker.com

ASMI’s Can Do and Cook It Frozen campaigns are designed to keep people eating Alaska seafood all year round. Learn more about the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute at www.alaskaseafood.org

Kodiak is leading the charge to protect the state’s fishing budget from further cuts and other regions are also on board. The commercial fishing division within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been slashed by 30 percent over the past two years.

That’s resulted in no funds to cover many surveys, field stations and data collections necessary to open and manage fisheries in season. A prime example – Alaska’s largest herring fishery at Togiak in Bristol Bay –

“The allowable catch for that fishery was reduced in order to build in a buffer for uncertainty because the surveys that would assess how many herring were available to catch those surveys couldn’t be done. So in order to make sure the resource was protected, the limit of what fishermen were allowed to catch had to be lowered.”

Rebecca Skinner sits on the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and co-authored a resolution asking Alaska lawmakers to not make further cuts to the commercial fishing budget. The resolution also includes a provision that any fees or taxes levied on fishing be directed back to fisheries management.

“It just made sense – if you’re’ going to raise taxes and fees but you have to have to have Inseason management to allow the fullest harvest is there a way to direct those funds back into commercial fishing.”

The resolution, minus language dedicating of fisheries fees back to management, was unanimously passed this month by the Alaska Municipal League, a group of 164 cities, boroughs, and municipalities representing a unified voice for over 97 percent of the state’s residents. Skinner says the resolution also has the strong support of the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference.

“The southwest region obviously has a lot of fishing communities and dependency on commercial fishing so I think there is just a general understanding that our communities in the southwest region rely on fisheries and we understand that with management you have to have the commercial fishing management funded to a point that allows you to prosecute the fisheries”.

The Kodiak Borough and City also are joining to compile a letter that includes data on things like employment and tax revenues generated by commercial fishing, targeted especially to lawmakers who live far from the coast.

“There’s a plan on the part of the city and the borough to make sure we are being proactive in getting this information out to all of the Alaska legislators.”

Many lawmakers don’t grasp the fact that fully half of the revenues from fishery taxes each year go into the state’s general fund and the other half to the ports where the fish was landed.

Skinner points out that for Kodiak, the nation’s 32 fishing port for landings and value, it adds up to a big chunk of change.

“About 50 percent of the revenue comes from fish related taxes – there’s the severance tax, business taxes that come through on a sharing basis with the state of Alaska. If you add those two together, they’re about 50 percent. Looking at the 2017 budget it was budgeted to over 52 percent.”
The Alaska Legislature convenes on January 17.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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