Friday, June 25, 2010

New laws aid injured fishermen, salmon industry

Gov. Sean Parnell was in Petersburg today and signed into law two pieces of legislation important to fish folk:

Senate Bill 163 revises the Fishermen's Fund, a kind of state insurance program for commercial fishermen who are injured or fall ill on the job. The new law increases the claim allowance from $2,500 to $10,000. The Fishermen's Fund is what's known as a "payer of last resort." That means, for example, that the fund can pay for care in the case of an injured fisherman who is underinsured. The prime sponsor of SB 163 was Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks.

House Bill 344 extends the salmon product development tax credit by four years, through 2015. This tax break has been around since 2003. It was among steps the state took to help the depressed salmon industry better compete with fish farmers. The goal is to encourage processors to add value to the salmon. Equipment for filleting fish, removing pinbones and packing salmon in convenient pop-top cans are examples of investments eligible for the tax credit. The new law adds ice machines to the list of qualified investments. Processors already have earned several million dollars in credits, the Department of Revenue says. The prime sponsor of HB 344 was Haines Republican Rep. Bill Thomas, himself a commercial fisherman.

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