Alaska/Pacific Coast

Bering Sea winter fisheries underway
KDLG by Molly Dischner – February 16, 2016
Salmon season may be a ways off, but winter fisheries like pollock and snow crab are underway in the Bering Sea.
http://kdlg.org/post/bering-sea-winter-fisheries-underway

Walker moves most CFEC duties to Fish and Game
KDLG by Lisa Phu – February 17, 2016
Gov. Bill Walker issued an administrative order Tuesday that transfers most functions of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission into the Department of Fish and Game. A governor’s press release says the reorganization will save the state more than $1.3 million a year.
http://kdlg.org/post/walker-moves-most-cfec-duties-fish-and-game

Alaska Seafood Processors and Harvesters Face 20-30% Higher Business, Landings Taxes This Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – February 17, 2016
The Alaska Legislature is so focused on the state’s massive budget problem that they have suspended action on all other issues. They have less than seventy days to find ways to reduce spending and increase revenue to fill a $3.8 billion hole in the state’s annual budget.

Legislators are looking at scores of bills including one motivational one recommending that members will forego their salaries and per diem if they don’t get a “fully funded budget” passed during the session’s 90 days.

Fisheries, mining, tourism and other businesses are feeling the pinch with proposed increases in taxes from these industries to the state.

House Bill 251, introduced by the Rules Committee by request of the Governor, would increase the fisheries business tax and the landing tax by 20-30 percent.

The current rate for the business tax ranges from 1 percent for developing shore-based processing operations to 5 percent for developed floating processors. The new tax would keep the lowest rate at 1 percent, but raise developed fisheries across the board.  Shore-based operations that currently pay a 3 percent rate would go to 4 percent; salmon canneries business tax would increase from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent, and floaters would go from 5 percent to 6 percent.

The fisheries landing tax, which is paid at 3 percent for established fisheries throughout the state and 1 percent for developing fisheries, would increase to 4 percent for established fisheries and remain the same for developing fisheries.

The governor’s letter to House Speaker Mike Chenault describes these increases as “one percent across the board”, a misleading phrase as a change in a tax rate from 3 to 4 reflects a 33 percent jump, from 4.5 to 5.5 is a 22 percent increase, and from 5 to 6 a 20 percent rise.

It’s estimated the bill would generate $18 million per year additional revenue to the state.

The landings tax is collected by processors, but is split 50/50 between processors and harvesters.  The tax is deducted from processor fish payments to harvesters.  The business tax is paid by processors only.

In 2013, Alaska’s fisheries business tax totaled more than $44.2 million. The landing tax generated another $13.4 million. Half of these taxes are returned to the communities and boroughs in a revenue sharing agreement. HB 251’s estimated additional 18.1 million would go directly to state coffers and not be shared shared with coastal communities.

A hearing on HB251 will be held on Thursday, February 18 to get public testimony and is expected to draw many of the state’s processor and fishermen’s groups.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1008992/Alaska-Seafood-Processors-and-Harvesters-Face-20-30-percent-Higher-Business-Landings-Taxes-This-Year

Winter Crab Commercial Fishery Opens for Norton Sound
KNOM by Laura Kraegel – February 15, 2016
NOME, Alaska — Norton Sound’s winter crab fishery finally opened Monday after poor sea ice delayed commercial crabbers for about a month.
http://www.knom.org/wp/blog/2016/02/15/winter-crab-commercial-fishery-opens-for-norton-sound/

Tanner crab fishermen receive OK to catch quota
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – February 13, 2016
It’s official. Tanner crab fishermen can catch their whole quota, and not leave 1.4 million pounds unharvested at the bottom of the Bering Sea because of a surprising provision in the federal rules governing the crab rationalization program that blindsided fishermen and processors late last year. That oversight nearly cost the industry some $5 million.
http://www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1606tanner_crab_fishermen_receive_ok_to_catch

FYI’s

Beluga whales will go to any depths to get a sizable meal
Dispatch Tribunal by Ravi Mandalia – February 14, 2016
When it comes to getting a mouthful of meal, beluga whales will go to any depths, a new study has revealed. Sometimes they could even dive to over 900 meters in deep oceans to find their primary food source – the Arctic cod.
http://www.dispatchtribunal.com/beluga-whales-dive-deep-for-sizable-meals-study-reveals/14724/

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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February 17, 2016