The Wrangell Borough Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday to oppose a royalty tax on Alaska’s seafood industry.
Assembly Member Julie Decker asked the assembly to consider the resolution, which mirrors a resolution passed by the Southeast Conference.
“What’s been proposed by one of the senators is to treat seafood more like oil,” Decker said. “In other words, oil has a number of taxes: production taxes, royalty taxes. And so they have proposed to add a 12.5 percent royalty tax on seafood, which is basically a gross tax right off the top.”
That proposal came from Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy in the form of Senate Bill 198.
Decker said fishermen already pay a 3 percent raw fish tax to the state, plus other taxes for things like salmon enhancement.
“But 12.5 percent in addition to 3 percent is crazy. It’s such a huge increase. It’s a relative increase of over 500 percent,” Decker said. “It would be extremely harmful to the seafood industry. There are many years we don’t have 12.5 percent profits. I’m telling you, for small boat operators, that’s the truth.”
The legislature is also considering increased taxes and fees on seafood landings, motor fuel, permit and vessel licenses and individual income tax, which would all affect commercial fishermen.
The resolution passed by the assembly asks the legislature to “carefully analyze the cumulative impact of any additional taxes and fees levied on the seafood industry” to prevent an unfair tax burden and job losses.
Senator Dunleavy has said he is not working on pushing the bill this session, but introduced it because he wanted to start a discussion.