FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2018
House Passes Legislation to Support Dive Fisheries in Southeast Alaska
HB 354 Updates the Assessment System Used by Alaska’s Only Dive Fishery Association
Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives 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 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 requiring a vote by a majority of all permit holders to authorize an assessment change has proven unfeasible because many permit holders no longer participate in the dive fisheries because the permits are nontransferable.
“The current system to change the assessment is not working because of the difficulty of getting a majority of permit holders to participate in elections. The simple change to the system called for in House Bill 354 recognizes the reality of who participates in these vital dive fisheries and makes the needed changes to allow the annual assessment to be adjusted in a reasonable manner,” said HB 354 sponsor Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan).
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 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 36-2. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Caroline Hamp in Rep. Ortiz’s office at (907) 465-3824.