Assembly Urges Legislature to Pass Budget for Health of Fisheries

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly addressed a letter to the Alaska state legislature last week, urging legislators to pass the budget in light of impending commercial fishery openings.

In the letter, the assembly writes that the “salmon won’t stop and wait for a government budget solution.” The letter stresses the economic effect a potential government shutdown on July 1 would have on the fisheries, and states it would be “catastrophic.”

It asks the legislature to pass an operating budget in order to keep the fisheries going.

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly looked over the letter at its regular meeting last week.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner, who introduced the letter, pointed out how a shutdown could interrupt the normal function of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“As far as I understand it, none of the Fish and Game programs or staff are considered to be of the nature that would be funded under a government shutdown. That includes pretty much everything. So, there would be no fisheries, particularly salmon as a state fishery is going to be very hard hit.”

Members of the assembly voiced support for the letter, and Assemblyman Dave Townsend said they should send it even if the legislature does pass the budget.

“Just to reinforce the importance of keeping the state running. Even if it shuts down for a couple of days, everybody that works for Fish and Game would have to be pulled off of remote areas, and it’s extremely costly. I know people that work for Fish and Game and they’ve already gotten their pink slips, and it’s very serious, if the fishery even shuts down for a couple of days, the impact it’ll have.”

The Alaska State legislature entered its second session on June 16th. If it doesn’t settle on a budget, it risks a government shut down on July 1.

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