House lawmakers are resisting the governor’s cost-cutting plan that would shutter Wrangell’s branch office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and cancel several fisheries research projects.
“I fully recognize the importance of the office to the gillnet fishery in Wrangell as well as the crab fishery,” says Ketchikan independent Rep. Dan Ortiz. He says Fish and Game has already had its budget cut over the past five years.
“I’m just not comfortable with any more reductions to the commercial side of the fish and game budget,” Ortiz says.
Closing Wrangell’s Fish and Game office would eliminate one job — saving a projected $66,000. Another would be relocated to Petersburg. That’s been unpopular in Wrangell.
The House Fisheries subcommittee also restored more than $700,000 in funding for several research projects. Ortiz says that includes a Red King Crab study for Southeast; salmon research in the Bering Sea. It would also restore a program to track hatchery fish straying into Prince William Sound.
“Every dollar that’s invested into commercial fishing does bring significant returns to the economy,” Ortiz says.
This recommendation will go to the House Finance committee. It requires passage in both chambers but could be eliminated if the governor uses his line item veto.