UFA Rallies to Defend Fisheries During State Budget Cuts

Falling oil prices are forcing Alaska’s government to make
deep budget cuts in all state agencies, and state legislators this week are
holding public hearings to gather testimony from Alaska residents on where to
make those cuts.
To that end, United Fishermen of Alaska is urging its
members to participate in person, by phone, or by email, in these House Finance
Committee hearings.
In an email to its membership on March 3, UFA urged its
members to contact legislators from their district about the importance of the
budgets for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Seafood
Marketing Institute.
Tell them, the email read, “that the seafood industry
creates economic opportunity for Alaskans. Deep budget cuts result in less time
and area for harvest, and reduced ability to market Alaska’s seafood.”
UFA officials note that 72 percent of active commercial
fishery permit holders are Alaska residents, and that the seafood industry is
Alaska’s top private employer, with over 63,000 direct jobs annually. The
estimated earnings of Alaska resident permit holders is $756.2 million. In
fact, UFA officials said, one of every seven Alaska residents is employed by
the seafood industry.
Budget reductions for ADF&G proposed by the department’s
budget subcommittee, and similar numbers adopted by the House Finance
Committee, said UFA, would allow the seafood industry to create economic
opportunity to benefit the state.
ASMI’s budget lies within the budget of the Alaska
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The proposed
reduction to the ASMI budget from the House Finance Committee represents $2.88
million, or a 39 percent reduction in general funds. That, notes UFA, is a deeper
cut than the 16 percent reduction proposed by Gov. Bill Walker.

UFA also asked its members to thank the Department of
Commerce, Community and Economic Development budget subcommittee for fully
restoring the governor’s cut to the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association.