Governor sinks fisheries entry commission

With an executive order Tuesday, Gov. Bill Walker has merged the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The move, suggested by cost-cutters for several years, is estimated to save the state $1.33 million per year in administrative costs, the governor said by email Tuesday. The two commissioners for the entry commission and legal staff will continue to be an independent agency despite the merger. 

“With a $3.5 billion budget deficit, we are leaving no stone unturned as we look for efficiencies in state government,” Walker wrote in a statement. “By moving administrative functions of the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to the Department of Fish and Game, we will save over $1.3 million a year. While that alone will not solve our budget challenges, it is another step towards streamlining government and getting the most out of our public dollars.”

The CFEC, established in 1974, was intended to regulate the ebb and flow of fishing permits in Alaska’s state-waters fisheries, which extend to three miles offshore.

In February last year, an analysis of the CFEC found it helpful but crippled by a glacial pace. At the time of the report, the CFEC had a backlog of 28 cases; most had been in the CFEC adjudication process for at least 15 years.

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, introduced House Bill 112 last year to abolish the CFEC and transfer its duties to Fish and Game. That bill passed out of the House Fisheries Committee and on to the resources committee, where it was awaiting a hearing when Walker signed the order.

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