Lower-Interest Loans for Entry Permits to be Considered by Alaska Legislature

Legislation introduced in the second session of the 27th Alaska Legislature by Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D- Dillingham, would amend the state’s Commercial Fishing Loan Act to allow lower-interest loans for entry permits under section B of the revolving loan fund.

Edgmon said the purpose of the legislation, currently before the House Fisheries Committee, is to increase Alaskan ownership of Alaskan fisheries by enabling a larger number of state residents to purchase limited entry commercial fishing permits.

House Bill 261 would modify Section B of the Commercial Fishing Loan Act to allow loans for entry permits of two percent below the prime rate with an interest floor of three percent, Edgmon said. Additionally, to address the reality of today’s permit costs, the bill would increase the maximum loan amount for entry permits under section B from $100,000 to $200,000, he said.

These loans would only be available to Alaska resident borrowers who are not eligible for financing from commercial banks, so they would not put the state in competition with private sector lenders.

“This legislation holds special promise for young Alaskan entrepreneurs, who in recent years have found it more difficult to secure the large amounts of capital needed to launch gainful, life-long fisheries businesses,” Edgmon said. “By helping a larger number of young Alaskans pursue ownership-level careers in fisheries, HB 261 will contribute to efforts to reverse the ‘graying of the fleet’ – the worrying increase in the average age of resident skippers in commercial fisheries across Alaska.”

The Dillingham Democrat said that support of HB 261 would strengthen one of the Commercial Fishing Loan Act’s most important purposes, to develop predominantly resident fisheries in Alaska. “In turn, by helping to put a greater number of limited entry permits in residents’ hands and by keeping a greater proportion of fisheries earnings in the state, HB 261 will strengthen Alaska’s economy,” he said.

Also before the Alaska House Fisheries Committee are several other bills introduced in the first half of the 27th session of the Legislature, last winter, including House Bill 237, to declare June 10 of every year Alaska Wild Salmon Day.

That measure, introduced by Edgmon, has a number of sponsors, but has not moved out of committee yet. It would honor the enormous bounty that wild king, sockeye, coho, chum and pink salmon bring to the state year after year.