House Finance approves seafood branding tax bill

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Fishermen could tax themselves to pay for development and marketing of regional brands of seafood under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Finance Committee.

Fishermen in several areas of the state have begun marketing some of their fish under regional brand names, such as "Kenai Wild," caught by Cook Inlet fishermen.

But Rep. Dan Ogg, R-Kodiak, who is sponsoring the bill, said the regional branding groups currently depend on a mix of state and federal grants for funding.

Jerry McCune of United Fishermen of Alaska said that funding is drying up.

Under House Bill 419, fishermen could vote to form regional seafood development associations and tax themselves to provide marketing and development dollars. The tax could range from .5 to 2 percent of what fishermen are paid for their catch.

All the fishermen in a region could participate in an association, or it could be limited to a specific species or gear type.

Permit holders would be eligible to vote on the tax, which would require approval by 51 percent of those voting, Ogg said.

The money could be used on facilities to improve quality of the branded fish, such as cold storage, as well as marketing, Ogg said.

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