The Alaska Legislature kicked off a new session this week, and lawmakers already have filed some bills of interest to the fishing industry.
House Bill 56 raises limits on certain state commercial fishing loans. The sponsor is Rep. Dan Ortiz, of Ketchikan.
House Bill 29 would prohibit the sale of genetically modified fish in Alaska. The sponsor is Rep. Geran Tarr, of Anchorage.
The major concern for legislators this session will be the same as last year — a multibillion-dollar budget deficit resulting from the decline in oil revenue. This could lead to new or higher taxes for industry and individuals.
For background, here's a news item from the November 2016 issue of Pacific Fishing magazine:
Cook Inlet salmon ruling The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 ruled in favor of United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) and Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund in a case concerning Cook Inlet salmon management. The two groups sued the federal government in 2013 and appealed after a loss in the district court. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has jurisdiction over the federal waters of Cook Inlet, the 9th Circuit opinion said. In 2010, the council began a comprehensive review of the salmon fishery management plan (FMP), and the next year voted unanimously to remove Cook Inlet from the salmon FMP. The government argued in court that the removal amounted to delegation of Cook Inlet to the state of Alaska, which had long managed the inlet’s salmon fisheries. UCIDA and its co-plaintiff opposed implementation of the council’s action. They have problems with the state’s management of Cook Inlet salmon, saying commercial sockeye catches have suffered over the years. The 9th Circuit remanded the case to the district court.