JUNEAU (AP) -- The Senate Finance Committee Friday approved a $15 increase in the fee charged for a Chitina dipnetting permit. The increase is headed to the Senate floor.
The committee began considering the bill on Wednesday, taking testimony from some people opposed to the increase, part of which is payment to the Ahtna and Chitina Native corporations for public access to corporation land along the river.
The fee increase is part of an agreement the Department of Fish and Game negotiated with the two Native corporations. Chitina Native Corp. will receive $10 per permit, Ahtna will receive $8 per permit. Fish and Game will receive $7 from each permit to pay for a planned doubling of sanitation and trash pickup services.
The increase is the first since the program began in 1992. In that time, the number of people using the Alaskan-only fishery has more than doubled, to 10,000 permits last year. Dipnetters caught 150,000 red and king salmon last year.
The increase is tempered somewhat by the reclassification of the fishery from personal-use to subsistence. Under the prior classification, fishermen needed to buy a sport fish license. That license is no longer needed.
The new agreement also calls for permits to be available at several Fish and Game offices, not just at the department's Copper River office.
Although the department negotiated the increased fee, the bill was needed because the earlier amount is cemented in state law. The measure is Senate Bill 301.
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