"HB 118 simply provides an additional tool for fishermen to cut costs and increase quality while creating efficient and productive businesses."
- Rep. Paul Seaton
"An Act relating to the transportation and sale of certain commercially caught fish by an agent of a commercial fishing permit holder and to the sale of fish; and providing for an effective date."
In 1988, the value of Alaska's salmon was worth $800 million. This year salmon fisherman took home significantly less money, totaling $150 million. Municipal revenues have dwindled, jobs have been lost, and fishermen are going broke. The economic effects of a failing salmon industry on the rest of the state could be detrimental. The Joint Legislative Salmon Industry Task Force has recognized the plight of Alaska's Salmon fisherman by forwarding to the legislature fourteen different bills and resolutions; House Bill 118 is one of those bills. HB 118 is a tool to help the industry by adding an alternative to cut costs for fisherman. It also creates new possibilities for accessing fresh markets.
HB 118 allows commercial fisherman to transport fish caught by associates to market. Under current law, transporting another person's fish is illegal unless you are a licensed processor or act as a contractor for a licensed processor. HB 118 creates an opportunity for fisherman to work together and consolidate their product for shipment. This simple option may cut down on additional fuel costs and give fisherman the ability to get their fish to market when processors no longer provide tender services.
As aforementioned, current laws limit fishermen's marketing flexibility. Currently, processors buy fish at the dock or send tenders out to the fishing fleet in order to bring fish to market. These special arrangements between fisherman and processors can be costly. HB 118 changes the statute by allowing fisherman to hire their own tender or pool their resources on one boat and transport the fish to market. Under the bill, a person transporting fish would need to have a transporter permit in addition to the currently required fish ticket. Only the fish ticket is used for the final sale of the fish. This arrangement would allow for the fisherman to retain ownership of the fish, while authorizing his/her associate or another vessel to transport and sell his or her fish. In some areas of the state, processors are non-existent. In that case, the transporter flexibility created in this bill may be the only avenue to get fish to market.
HB 118 simply provides an additional tool for fishermen to cut costs and increase quality while creating efficient and productive businesses.