Our association has just started its second year of existence, and we are currently focused on passage of legislation that would allow for a stable source of funding for our mission. This legislation, which will be introduced in the Washington State Legislature this month, is a response to HB1951, which calls for creative public-private partnerships to forestall the closure of certain Washington State salmon hatcheries. We have crafted this bill, and we hope that you will support it.
The point of HB1951 is to authorize the State (through the Department of Fish & Wildlife) to select suitable private partners, who would provide financial support to the Department as it attempts to keep key hatcheries open and operating.
- In response to the need to save the operations and salmon broodstock of the McKernan Hatchery, Hood Canal, the Department announced in July, 2010 a strategic partnership with the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association and the Suquamish Tribe.
- Through the generous support of these two groups, production of Chum salmon for the 2010 season was ensured.
In the same spirit seen in the McKernan Hatchery example, we, too, seek to find ways to ensure that Chum salmon production continues in the Puget Sound.
- We recognize that the State fiscal situation is dire, and that we probably cannot count on General Fund revenues to provide the necessary support for key hatcheries.
- Thus, we have decided to ask our commercial fleet membership, and our associates in the seafood processing industry, to come together and provide ongoing funding for a private answer to the public hatchery needs.
This answer is a self-imposed assessment against commercially caught (and processed) salmon. We have asked that the fishermen and the processors each contribute 2.5% of their gross revenues to a fund, which would solely be used for salmon enhancement and hatchery operations in the Puget Sound.
The commercial fishermen and the seafood processors already pay a substantial excise tax (5.62% of landed value) on each Chum that they catch and process. Thus, the additional assessment would truly be a burden on their income. However, we all realize that this is the only answer to the existing problem, and we sincerely request broad support from the industry.
We expect that the new legislation will become available for public comment by mid-January, and we will post it to this website as soon as we can. In the meantime, we thank you for your interest and support, and welcome any comments that you might have.