“Relating to an examination of fisheries-related programs to facilitate the entry of young Alaskans into commercial fisheries careers and to collaboration with the University of Alaska fisheries, seafood, and maritime initiative.”
Posted: March 10, 2012 : v27-LS0838-I.A
Bill Version: CSHCR 18(FSH) AM
Status: Legis Resolve 36 : 2012-08-08
CSHCR 18 recognizes there are many fine programs and agencies in the state whose goals include promoting strong resident commercial fisheries and aiding younger Alaskans' success in them. The resolution urges the legislature to examine such efforts in order to determine how best they can be strengthened to further the aspirations of young Alaskan fisheries entrepreneurs.
The seafood industry is Alaska's largest private-sector employer and has been the economic mainstay in dozens of our communities for more than a century. The financial and societal contributions resident fishers make to their home ports and hometowns are considerable; Alaska should do all it can to increase resident ownership of businesses harvesting fish in its waters.
In recent decades, the mean age of commercial fishing entry permit owners in Alaska has increased from just more than 40 years to nearly 50 years. This "graying of the fleet" is happening in part because younger Alaskans confront ever more daunting obstacles to acquiring fish harvesting operations.
Nowadays, the cost of entry into commercial fisheries on a diversified level sufficient to provide a satisfactory income for a skipper and crew is often more than $350,000. Such amounts are beyond the reach of most young Alaskans, who frequently lack the considerable credit histories necessary to secure large bank loans. Moreover, with the increase in limited-entry and rationalized fisheries in recent decades, running a successful fishing operation requires sharp business skills and the savvy to navigate complex state and federal regulatory systems.
After HCR 18 was introduced in April, 2011, the University of Alaska launched a major initiative "to assess and enhance the development and delivery of programs, courses, research and information that meet the employment needs of the fisheries, seafood, and maritime industries." The goals of this initiative include "to support Alaskans, particularly young Alaskans, in discovering and preparing for the wide range of employment opportunities in the fishing, seafood, and maritime industries." The university's enterprise has evolved to include industry, Community Development Quota groups, and the continued participation of The Rasmuson Foundation.
Given the close alignment of the university's initiative with the goals of HCR 18, the Fisheries Committee adopted a committee substitute that endorses and encourages the University of Alaska Fisheries, Seafood, and Maritime Initiative. In addition, the CS would have the Senate President and House Speaker each appoint one member from their respective bodies to act as liaisons to the university's initiative and report to the legislature on its progress. The liaisons' participation would culminate with a report to the legislaturedue by January 30th, 2013that would include recommendations on ways lawmakers may effectively contribute to any action plan developed by the University of Alaska Fisheries, Seafood, and Maritime Initiative.
Support for CSHCR 18 will help to fortify one of Alaska's most important industries and the many communities, rural and urban alike, that benefit from it.