Bill Would Double Cost of Seven-Day Alaska Crewmember Licenses

Legislation introduced by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, would
double the cost of seven-day crewmember fishing licenses from $30 to $60 in Alaska.
Seaton said March 9 that there has been an explosive growth
in the number of non-resident fishermen purchasing more than one seven-day
license for a fishing season at $30 apiece rather than pay the $200 annual fee,
and legislators were looking at how to make the system work better.
Alaska residents may purchase an annual crewmember license
for $60.
Seaton said legislators considered restricting the number of
seven-day licenses an individual could purchase for a single year, but it was
too complicated to track because of the number of places where licenses can be
purchased. In late February, Seaton introduced the action as House Bill 143.
Thirty-nine percent of each license sold, up to a total of
$50, goes into the state’s Fishermen’s Fund, which is like a worker’s
compensation fund for fishermen. Given the increasing number of non-residents
purchasing two, three or more seven-day licenses for a single season, Seaton
said that fund is losing thousands of dollars annually.
Back in 2003, legislation was passed to allow crewmembers
the option of purchasing a seven-day license rather than one for the entire
season, to accommodate those only planning to participate in the commercial
fishery for a short time. For residents, that was a savings of $30 from the $60
fee for the year.
Nonresidents purchase the bulk of seven-day commercial
fishing licenses.
“It’s nothing critical, but it is an accelerating problem,”
said Seaton. If the measure passes, Seaton said, he did not expect the fee
change to be in effect for this year.