ADFG advances logbook repeal; OMB takes director salaries

  • Alaska Department of FIsh and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang, left, told a budget subcommittee on March 12 that division directors being eliminated from his department are being transferred to the Office of Management and Budget to fill positions in that office. (Photo/Mark Thiessen/AP)

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials want input on a proposal to repeal rules requiring sport fish guides to report their clients’ catch.

ADFG issued a public notice March 7 requesting public comments on eliminating the Freshwater Sport Fish Guide Logbook program.

The department currently mandates all fishing guides and charter operators to complete detailed summaries of each fishing trip they run in logbooks provided by the department.

Freshwater guides are required to record the time and location of each trip; the number of each species caught and harvested or released; as well as the sport fishing license number of each guide and client that participated in a given outing.

Those logbooks must then be turned in to the department each week during the fishing season.

Saltwater fishing guides would still be required to record their trips in the state logbooks.

While ADFG monitors fish stocks in many popular commercial and sport fisheries across the state with fish weirs, sonar, and various other survey methods, many other fisheries, even on large, heavily used waters, are not tracked.

The logbooks offer fisheries managers a frame of reference for how fisheries typically not actively managed in-season are performing by tracking catch rates and angler effort. Logbook data can also be used in gathering other harvest information as well.

The popular Kenai River coho fishery, for example, largely occurs after the sonar focused on enumerating the river’s sockeye run is pulled in mid-August.

Questions about the reasons behind repealing specifically the freshwater logbook requirement were referred to the Office of Management and Budget despite being a regulatory proposal and were not answered in time for this story.

Acting Fish and Game Administrative Services Director Samantha Gatton told the House Fish and Game budget subcommittee March 5 that repealing the program would save approximately $100,000. Gatton previously said the overall saltwater and freshwater logbook program costs the state $650,000 to $690,000 per year.

Overall, the department is facing a $4.5 million cut from a roughly $200 million budget under the Dunleavy administration’s proposal.

Incoming Kenai River Sportfishing Association Executive Director Ben Mohr said the group is fairly ambivalent about the proposal to repeal it.

The freshwater logbook program is scheduled to sunset in October and, according to Mohr, has not been used for in-season management as much as intended.

On March 12 ADFG Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang also clarified in response to questions from legislators on the House budget subcommittee that the department is cutting the Habitat and Subsistence Division director positions so the PCNs, or position control numbers, can be transferred to the Office of Management and Budget for director-level positions there.

He stressed that the department will continue to operate the Habitat and Subsistence aspects of its work as it has done; the difference will be that division operations managers leading each area will report to a deputy commissioner.

The Habitat and Subsistence director positions are vacant and not required by statute, according to Vincent-Lang.

“I’d rather not lose two permitters; I’d rather lose a vacant director and figure out how to oversee that division by a deputy commissioner,” he told the committee.

Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, questioned the plan for putting science-based permitting decisions on an appointee-level position.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, said OMB needs to explain the rationale behind transferring the positions out of Fish and Game.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.bre[email protected].

Updated: 
03/13/2019 - 9:56am

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