Governor Walker Signs HB 137 Into Law

Governor Walker signed into law HB 137, a bill that raises license and tag fees for hunters, trappers and anglers in Alaska. The bill had support from broad coalition of outdoorsman groups and individuals. The aim is to ensure adequate revenue brought in by license and tag fees to cover the costs associated with management by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). The primary change is raising resident and nonresident fishing, trapping and combination licenses, with the most significant change in fees occurring for nonresident big game tag fees.

The projected increase in revenue is expected to be $9 million, with an increase of $3.5 million in angler fees and $5.5 million in hunting fees. For anglers, the bulk of the increase is for nonresident anglers with 82 percent of the increase and resident anglers 18 percent. The annual resident sport fish license increases from $15 to $20 and no change in the king salmon stamp (remains at $10). There is a new $15 Chitna Dip Net fee, which is designated to go towards transportation, waste management and restroom facilities. While discussed, neither a Cook Inlet dip net fee nor a sockeye salmon stamp for anglers was not included.

Revenues from resident sport fishing licenses (including combos) is projected at $2.8 million, with $615 million from the king salmon stamp. Nonresident sport fishing licenses (including combos) is projected at $8.9 million and $2.65 million from the king salmon stamp, an increase close to $700,000 for king salmon research and management. The new Chitna dip net fee is expected to raise $180,000.

Overall revenues to the ADFG Sport Fish Division from license and stamp fees are expected to be about $15.15 million, an increase of $3.5 million from $11.65 million. Non-residents will contribute about 75 percent of the license and stamp fees. Monies from the federal Sport Fish Restoration Fund provide the bulk of remaining funding for ADFG Sport Fish Division. In the last decade the federal funding amount per year has ranged $15 to $20 million annually.

Since 1950 the Act (also known as the Dingell-Johnson (DJ) Act) has funded restoration and management of fish species of material value for sport fishing and recreation. It also provides facility funding that create or add to public access for recreational boating, and aquatic education to public to increase understanding of water resources and associated aquatic life.

The source of the Sport Fish Restoration Funds monies is from excise taxes (typically 10 percent on wholesale value) on sport fishing equipment, electric motors, and sonar; import duties on fishing tackle, yachts and pleasure craft; and a portion of gasoline tax attributable to motorboats and small engines.  Since its inception through 2015, more than $400,000 million has been directed to Alaska for sport fisheries management, angler access and conservation.

The federal funds and the state license and stamp fees are deposited into the Alaska Fish and Game Fund, one of the few dedicated funds in Alaska for state government. Anglers are the primary source of funding for sport fishing management, angler access and conservation, here and elsewhere in the United States.