Astoria Fisheries Auction

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tax Impact of 2016 Harvests Uncertain

Fisheries landing and business taxes collected by the state of Alaska and then shared with coastal fisheries governments have brought millions of dollars to these communities over the past five years, but it’s uncertain what 2016 revenues will be.

The Alaska Department of Revenue’s fiscal year 2015 annual report on shared landing taxes alone showed a grand total of $3,125,677 shared, while fish business taxes shared totaled $21.5 million.

The landing tax is paid by floating processors, who catch their fish in federal waters and bring it inside state waters for offloading. Those taxes are based on average statewide prices from the Commercial Operator Annual Report compiled by the state of Alaska’s Revenue Department. The fisheries business tax is based on what processors are paying for unprocessed fish delivered by harvesters.

From fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2015, the state shared a total of $23,292,723 in landing taxes with communities, an average of $4,658,546 annually.

For the same period, the state shares a total of $116,350,039 in fisheries business taxes, or an average of $23,270,000 annually.

While this year’s summer salmon season produced more than 112 million salmon, based on preliminary harvest records, this was well below the anticipated harvest.

Yet while the supply is lower, the demand remains strong. Alaska is still considered the place to go for the highest quality salmon, so hopefully people will be willing to pay for it, says Tyson Fick, communications officer for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

Quotas for Bristol Bay red king crab for the shellfish fisheries now underway are down 15 percent, while quotas for Bering Sea snow crab have been cut 47 percent, and three other crab fisheries are closed. So there will be less crab overall, but marketers of that sought after crab anticipate that the harvest will be absorbed very quickly, and that they will see record prices this year.

Initial indicators are that Japanese interest will be what it was last year, and the yen is in a better position this year too, said Eric Donaldson, of The Crab Broker.

How all this will pan out in fishery taxes collected and then shared with coastal communities, however, is still uncertain.

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