Assembly supports reciprocal licenses
The Haines Borough Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to state House Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, asking him to remove a bill from the legislature that would eliminate Alaska’s reciprocal fishing license arrangement with the Yukon Territory.
Kreiss-Tomkins introduced House Bill 368 in February as a placeholder to ensure it could be acted upon during this session, depending on the town’s wishes.
Mayor Stephanie Scott brought the bill to assembly members Tuesday, seeking direction. After hearing from more than a half-dozen residents, the assembly voted 5-0 to request the bill be removed.
Doug Olerud, manager of Olerud’s Market Center, said the reciprocal fishing license agreement “has done wonders for the Haines economy.”
Instead of eliminating the agreement, maybe Fish and Game should look at stepping up enforcement to weed out Yukoners who allegedly are exceeding bag limits, he said.
One of the main arguments voiced by supporters of rescinding the agreement – including Marlena Saupe, the only resident to speak in favor of the bill during Tuesday’s meeting – is Yukoners are finding loopholes to get around harvest regulations for fish, crab and shrimp.
Saupe also said Fish and Game would stand to increase its revenue considerably if it made Yukoners pay full price for fishing licenses.
Tourism director Tanya Carlson and executive assistant to the borough manager Darsie Culbeck also supported the existing arrangement.
Carlson said supporting the bill would contradict the tourism department’s “Good Neighbor” campaign, which encourages Yukoners to visit Haines. “That is not being a good neighbor,” she said.
In an email sent to Scott Wednesday, Kreiss-Tomkins said he wouldn’t have the bill heard in the Fisheries Committee. “For all intents and purposes, HB 368 is dead,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.
Kreiss-Tomkins brought the issue to the legislature after learning the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Council had voted last year to send letters to Fish and Game and the legislature asking the state to terminate the reciprocal fishing license agreement. Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell denied the request.
The reciprocal fishing license allows Yukon Territory residents to buy fishing licenses for the same price paid by Alaska residents.