HB 354 Updates the Assessment System Used by Alaska’s Only Dive Fishery Association
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation to update the protocol used by the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association to charge an assessment to its members to help manage and support the geoduck, sea cucumber, and sea urchin fisheries. House Bill 354, sponsored by Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan), changes the assessment mechanism from a vote by a majority of permit holders to a three-quarters vote of the Board of Directors and a majority vote of permit holders participating in the election.
The current assessment method for the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association requires a vote by a majority of all permit holders to authorize an assessment change. This has made it difficult to make assessment changes because many permit holders no longer participate in the dive fisheries due to the permits being nontransferable.
“The current system is not working and had to be updated. Through the passage of House Bill 354 we recognize the difficulty of getting a majority of permit holders to participate in elections and make a simple change that recognizes the reality of who participates in these vital dive fisheries,” said Rep. Ortiz.
The Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association, which is Alaska’s only dive fisheries association, represents the participants in the geoduck, sea cucumber, and sea urchin fisheries. Under state law, the participants in the fisheries can tax themselves to support the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s management and research of the fisheries. The three fisheries have a combined ex-vessel value of approximately $10 million a year.
House Bill 354, which was carried on the Senate floor by Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), passed the Alaska State Senate today by a unanimous vote of 19-0. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives last month by a vote of 36-2. HB 354 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, please contact Caroline Hamp in Rep. Ortiz’s office at (907) 465-3824.