Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Legislation on the Move to Boost Limit on Fisheries Loans

A bill moving through the Alaska Legislature would boost loan amounts to qualified resident commercial fishermen to purchase limited entry fishing permits from $100,000 to $200,000.

The committee substitute for House Bill 261, by Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, moved out of the House Finance Committee on March 20, headed for the Rules Committee and then to the House floor. If approved by the House, it will move on to the state Senate.

The initial language in the bill called for loans at two percent below the prime rate, with an interest floor of three percent, but that language was removed by legislators during the House Finance Committee meeting before being passed out of committee.

Edgmon says his legislation is aimed at increasing Alaskan ownership in Alaskan fisheries by enabling more state residents to buy limited entry fishing permits.

Residents not eligible for financing through commercial banks or the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank in Anchorage would be eligible for the loans.

Commercial fishing permit prices have fluctuated widely over the years with the value of their harvest. At one point over a decade ago some permits were valued as low as $18,000, but this year some Prince William Sound drift permits were commanding asking prices as high as $193,000.

The bill has support from United Fishermen of Alaska.

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