With an administrative order signed on Feb. 16, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has transferred administrative and research functions of the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to the state’s Department of Fish and Game.
It is the latest move by the state to combat a $3.5 billion budget deficit.
This reorganization alone will save the state more than $1.3 million a year, while continuing to provide the CFEC’s core functions, Walker said.
ADF&G Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brooks noted that there has been a lot of talk in recent years about reorganizing the CFEC, including discussions with United Fishermen of Alaska, about streamlining to save money, because those savings will go to ADF&G. Brooks said the state spoke with the seafood industry about the need to reorganize after the outcome of a legislative audit published in October.
Brooks said there will be some staff reductions and that the plan is to have the two commissioners work full time through Dec. 31 to get through their current work load, and then reduce their hours to part time. One of the three commissioner positions is currently vacant, as are one research and one licensing section position.
CFEC has been in existence for 40 years, and they have done great work, but things are changing, he said. The reorganization of state entities alone will not solve the state’s current budget challenges, but it is another step toward streamlining government and getting the most out of our public dollars, Walker said in announcing this move.
The state currently is trying to resolve a $3.5 billion budget deficit brought on by declining oil prices and oil production in Alaska.
State Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said her intent with House Bill 112, which she introduced during the last session, was much the same as Walker’s, to make the government more efficient. Her bill, however, would have left status quo the transferring of licenses, the adjudications and the research department, she said. Fishermen she has spoken with over the interim months said they felt they could live with that, she said.