Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Bill would eliminate reciprocal fish license

 


House Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate a regulation allowing Yukon Territory residents to buy fishing licenses for the same fee as Alaska residents.

House Bill 368, which Kreiss-Tomkins introduced in late February, would also prohibit Yukoners from buying king salmon tags at the same rate as Alaska residents.

The Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee voted unanimously at its Feb. 22, 2013, meeting to write letters to the boards of Fish and Game and the Alaska Legislature asking the state to terminate its reciprocal fishing license agreement with the Yukon Territory.

Several months later, Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell sent a letter to the advisory committee denying its request.

Kreiss-Tomkins’ bill, as written, would revoke the commissioner’s authority to establish reciprocal fishing license agreements with the Yukon Territory.

Kreiss-Tomkins said in an interview Tuesday he introduced the bill just before a Feb. 24 deadline for introducing personal legislation to ensure it could be acted upon during this session, if that is what Haines residents want.

As far as the issue goes, Kreiss-Tomkins said he is “agnostic.”

“This is like the ultimate issue of local control. If Haines wants this change, then we will work to get it changed. But I’m not sure what Haines wants,” he said.

Kreiss-Tomkins, who said he has heard from advisory committee chair Tim McDonough and several private citizens, contacted Haines Borough Mayor Stephanie Scott last week to ask the borough’s stance on the issue.

In his email to Scott, Kreiss-Tomkins included a letter his office received from Haines resident Marlena Saupe asking the legislature to consider repealing the law. Saupe claimed the reciprocal fishing license agreement is taxing local resources and giving an undue financial break to Yukoners.

“(Yukoners) bring generators to run their freezers to freeze their catch. They limit out, clean their fish, then freeze it. They go back out the same day and fish some more,” Saupe wrote. “Under Alaska law, once a fish has been processed and frozen, it is no longer considered your limit for the day. I’ve seen them fill their freezers with plenty of salmon and crab and shrimp.”

As of Tuesday night, Scott hadn’t responded to Kreiss-Tomkins’ email, but said in an interview with the CVN that she doesn’t think the community wants reciprocal fishing licenses to be rescinded.

“I don’t think it’s the sense of the community that it’s a good thing to do,” Scott said.

Kreiss-Tomkins said the bill is waiting for its first committee meeting, which hasn’t yet been requested. “I’m still not sure if it’s a good bill or not,” he said.

Scott said she would contact Kreiss-Tomkins and ask what kind of direction he is looking for. She also said she would “be happy to bring it forward” to the assembly.