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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Tax code changes don't result in equity for fishing charter clients

The borough has decided to single out the purchases of fishing charters and sightseeing tours from the $500 maximum tax cap.

If you are taking your family or group of friends out fishing each person will be taxed individually, taking your purchase out of consideration of the maximum tax cap. Any other purchase you make in the area has the maximum tax cap, so why not your charter purchase? Did you know if you are buying an air charter to go look at bears there are no sales taxes applied at all?

The borough assembly sale tax committee is changing the tax codes to find "equity" in the code. Where is the "equity" between my charter on the sea and a charter in the air? Neither of us use borough facilities or resources, but we both begin and end in the borough.

Another fact the borough has not mentioned is the amount of increase in sales tax that will go to the city of Homer once the maximum tax cap is lifted. Homer makes out great without any action at all. The greatest abundance of the sales tax increase will be born by Homer and Seward due to their larger boats and the large purchases of services that they conduct.

This change will move more charters away from doing business in Homer, or move them out of business completely. The borough assembly members need to rethink this action and not force another "taxation without representation" issue to the people.

Robert Ward, A-Ward Charters, Anchor Point

Catch-and-release fishing not viable management tool

Ask any red-blooded Alaskan and you'll hear in no uncertain terms that management of Alaska's fish and game is the business of Alaska's residents, and we quite frankly don't give a rip how they do it outside. Whether the question is wolf control, federal management within the state, or whatever, the answer is the same: management of Alaska's fish and game is the business of Alaskans.

Why, then, is Sport Fish Division insistent on surveying nonresidents on management of Kenai River king salmon? Why is Director Kelly Hepler adamant that nonresidents be surveyed to determine "angler preferences for management of" Kenai and Kasilof early salmon runs? Why can Hepler not hear what Alaska's Legislature and Board of Fisheries heard loud and clear -- that resident Alaskans want no part of mandatory catch-and-release imposed on their salmon fishing?

Back in February, Kenai River Sportfishing Association along with Kenai River Professional Guides Association with support from Sport Fish Division's Hepler, lobbied the Board of Fisheries to make the first run of Kenai kings a 100 percent catch-and-release fishery with bait. The Board of Fisheries backed off that atrocious proposal in the face of resident outrage and has since backed off all catch-and-release regulations until reconsideration of the issue next March.

Director Hepler stated that he walked into February's Board of Fisheries meetings looking for a "stable and predictable" fishery in the first run. The obvious way to get rid of all the uncertainty of an emergency-order-driven fishery, is to make the fishery catch-and-release. That's what Hepler supported then, and he shows no signs of having changed his mind since. Sport Fish and Hepler evidently still consider 100 percent catch-and-release a desirable management option for Alaska's salmon fisheries.

Since mandatory catch-and-release is on the table, still an option, is this then the reason nonresidents are being surveyed? Is it just possible that nonresidents might find mandatory catch-and-release more agreeable than do Alaska residents? Perhaps.

But whether or not nonresidents give Hepler and catch-and-release the support he seems to be looking for, Sport Fish's survey has no business surveying nonresidents on management of Alaska's fish.

Hepler claims that the Board of Fisheries has asked the division to survey nonresidents, but Diana Cote of Board Support says the board did no such thing. According to Ms. Cote, "There was no formal vote on the issue."

Director Hepler says board member Engel "was very clear in his response that he would expect the department to provide information from all the users groups that fish the river and not just select groups such as local anglers."

If there was no formal, on-the-table vote by the board on such an important matter as surveying nonresidents, what then do we have -- an informal, under-the-table request by select board members? Haven't we had enough of these kind of shenanigans? Sport Fish Division has no business surveying nonresidents on the management of king salmon nor has the Board of Fisheries formally asked Hepler to do so.

Sport Fish Division must understand two things in order to help resolve the mess they helped create over catch-and-release salmon fishing.

First, mandatory catch-and-release is not a management option for Alaska's salmon fisheries. Period. Take it off the table. Alaska's resident anglers want no part of it, and they have made their position known loud and clear. Both the state's legislators and the Board of Fisheries have heard, understood and acted on the firestorm of resident reaction to catch-and-release applied to salmon. Catch-and-release is not a management option for our salmon fisheries. Any catch-and-release practiced by Alaskan anglers must be voluntary, not coerced.

Second, nonresidents have no business being surveyed on fisheries management issues. Nonresidents already have a legitimate voice in management of Alaska's fisheries as their opinions and choices are reflected in the market forces at work in the tourist-oriented sportfishing industry. Amend the survey to exclude nonresident input or, better yet, cancel the survey. There exists no need for an expensive survey to determine what is already clear -- Alaskans want no part of catch-and-release salmon fisheries.

This charade has gone way too far, has cost the state tens of thousands of wasted dollars and has cost our biologists untold wasted hours talking about the issue.

We don't need any more nonsensical spin about "supply and demand" and "diverse social issues." What we do need is that Sport Fish Division listen to the Alaskans they're supposed to be serving.

Catch-and-release is not a management option for our salmon fisheries, and the management of our fish is the business of Alaskans.

John Nelson, Soldotna

HEAD: Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Tax code changes don't result in equity for fishing charter clients

The borough has decided to single out the purchases of fishing charters and sightseeing tours from the $500 maximum tax cap.

If you are taking your family or group of friends out fishing each person will be taxed individually, taking your purchase out of consideration of the maximum tax cap. Any other purchase you make in the area has the maximum tax cap, so why not your charter purchase? Did you know if you are buying an air charter to go look at bears there are no sales taxes applied at all?

The borough assembly sale tax committee is changing the tax codes to find "equity" in the code. Where is the "equity" between my charter on the sea and a charter in the air? Neither of us use borough facilities or resources, but we both begin and end in the borough.

Another fact the borough has not mentioned is the amount of increase in sales tax that will go to the city of Homer once the maximum tax cap is lifted. Homer makes out great without any action at all. The greatest abundance of the sales tax increase will be born by Homer and Seward due to their larger boats and the large purchases of services that they conduct.

This change will move more charters away from doing business in Homer, or move them out of business completely. The borough assembly members need to rethink this action and not force another "taxation without representation" issue to the people.

Robert Ward, A-Ward Charters, Anchor Point

Catch-and-release fishing not viable management tool

Ask any red-blooded Alaskan and you'll hear in no uncertain terms that management of Alaska's fish and game is the business of Alaska's residents, and we quite frankly don't give a rip how they do it outside. Whether the question is wolf control, federal management within the state, or whatever, the answer is the same: management of Alaska's fish and game is the business of Alaskans.

Why, then, is Sport Fish Division insistent on surveying nonresidents on management of Kenai River king salmon? Why is Director Kelly Hepler adamant that nonresidents be surveyed to determine "angler preferences for management of" Kenai and Kasilof early salmon runs? Why can Hepler not hear what Alaska's Legislature and Board of Fisheries heard loud and clear -- that resident Alaskans want no part of mandatory catch-and-release imposed on their salmon fishing?

Back in February, Kenai River Sportfishing Association along with Kenai River Professional Guides Association with support from Sport Fish Division's Hepler, lobbied the Board of Fisheries to make the first run of Kenai kings a 100 percent catch-and-release fishery with bait. The Board of Fisheries backed off that atrocious proposal in the face of resident outrage and has since backed off all catch-and-release regulations until reconsideration of the issue next March.

Director Hepler stated that he walked into February's Board of Fisheries meetings looking for a "stable and predictable" fishery in the first run. The obvious way to get rid of all the uncertainty of an emergency-order-driven fishery, is to make the fishery catch-and-release. That's what Hepler supported then, and he shows no signs of having changed his mind since. Sport Fish and Hepler evidently still consider 100 percent catch-and-release a desirable management option for Alaska's salmon fisheries.

Since mandatory catch-and-release is on the table, still an option, is this then the reason nonresidents are being surveyed? Is it just possible that nonresidents might find mandatory catch-and-release more agreeable than do Alaska residents? Perhaps.

But whether or not nonresidents give Hepler and catch-and-release the support he seems to be looking for, Sport Fish's survey has no business surveying nonresidents on management of Alaska's fish.

Hepler claims that the Board of Fisheries has asked the division to survey nonresidents, but Diana Cote of Board Support says the board did no such thing. According to Ms. Cote, "There was no formal vote on the issue."

Director Hepler says board member Engel "was very clear in his response that he would expect the department to provide information from all the users groups that fish the river and not just select groups such as local anglers."

If there was no formal, on-the-table vote by the board on such an important matter as surveying nonresidents, what then do we have -- an informal, under-the-table request by select board members? Haven't we had enough of these kind of shenanigans? Sport Fish Division has no business surveying nonresidents on the management of king salmon nor has the Board of Fisheries formally asked Hepler to do so.

Sport Fish Division must understand two things in order to help resolve the mess they helped create over catch-and-release salmon fishing.

First, mandatory catch-and-release is not a management option for Alaska's salmon fisheries. Period. Take it off the table. Alaska's resident anglers want no part of it, and they have made their position known loud and clear. Both the state's legislators and the Board of Fisheries have heard, understood and acted on the firestorm of resident reaction to catch-and-release applied to salmon. Catch-and-release is not a management option for our salmon fisheries. Any catch-and-release practiced by Alaskan anglers must be voluntary, not coerced.

Second, nonresidents have no business being surveyed on fisheries management issues. Nonresidents already have a legitimate voice in management of Alaska's fisheries as their opinions and choices are reflected in the market forces at work in the tourist-oriented sportfishing industry. Amend the survey to exclude nonresident input or, better yet, cancel the survey. There exists no need for an expensive survey to determine what is already clear -- Alaskans want no part of catch-and-release salmon fisheries.

This charade has gone way too far, has cost the state tens of thousands of wasted dollars and has cost our biologists untold wasted hours talking about the issue.

We don't need any more nonsensical spin about "supply and demand" and "diverse social issues." What we do need is that Sport Fish Division listen to the Alaskans they're supposed to be serving.

Catch-and-release is not a management option for our salmon fisheries, and the management of our fish is the business of Alaskans.

John Nelson, Soldotna



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