Salmon Seining
F/V Marshal Tito
Admiralty Island, Alaska
© K. Anthony Lara Photography



During 1996, staff in the licensing section became increasingly aware of the rapid rate of change and growing complexity of Alaska's fisheries and licensing requirements. Several years ago there were a few fairly simple, straightforward programs and rules to keep track of; now an increasing burden is placed upon licensing staff to keep up with the changes as the Commission limits additional fisheries, the legislature enacts fishery moratoriums and new types of permitting mechanisms, the Board of Fisheries adopts regulatory changes and federal agencies continue to develop moratoria, license limitation, IFQ and CDQ programs. As a primary contact for those involved with Alaska's fisheries, the licensing section strives to be informed and able to provide current, accurate information in response to inquiries and refer callers to appropriate sources for further information. Responding to information requests has become a major function of the section, and demands more staff time each year. To cope with increasing demands within budgetary constraints, the licensing section seeks to streamline procedures and automate processing whenever possible.

The total number of permits and vessel licenses issued for 1996 continued to decline as it has for several years. However, the number of vessels licensed did increase slightly over the previous year. The drop in the number of annual permits parallels a decrease in the number of fishers participating in Alaska's fisheries. The table below demonstrates changes in the number of fishers, permits and vessels licensed over the period 1991-1996.

The decline in numbers of permits is most evident in the miscellaneous finfish, halibut and black cod fisheries.

Year Fishers Resident Non Resident Permits Vessels Total
1991 17,944 13,791 4,153 32,524 17,580 50,104
1992 17,635 13,479 4,156 32,219 17,194 49,413
1993 16,561 12,579 3,982 29,511 16,276 45,787
1994 16,408 12,579 3,829 28,633 16,259 44,892
1995 15,853 12,014 3,839 27,153 16,277 43,430
1996 15,261 11,494 3,767 26,122 16,301 42,423

New Developments

Southeast Dive Fishery Moratorium

During 1996, the licensing section was involved in implementing a variety of new programs. The dive fisheries in Southeast Alaska which harvest abalone, geoduck, sea cucumber and sea urchin went under a moratorium which took effect mid-summer pursuant to HB 547. Procedures and application forms were developed for issuance of permits for the fall fisheries. Applications were mailed in mid-August to fishers known to be eligible to participate during the moratorium. Subsequently, the Department of Fish and Game determined the abalone fishery would remain closed, rather than opening in October as scheduled. Because of delays in approval of the sea urchin Fishery Management Plan, that fishery did not open until after the end of the year. Eligible divers were able to harvest geoduck and sea cucumbers during the fall fishery.

Licenses Issued by Month

Bering Sea Korean Hair Crab Vessel Permit Moratorium

Legislation was enacted during 1996 which placed the Korean Hair crab fishery occurring beyond five miles from shore in the Bering Sea under a moratorium. The legislation specified vessel permits be issued to qualified vessels during the moratorium, creating an entirely new type of permit than any previously issued by the Commission. Historically, limited entry and interim-use permits are issued to the individual gear operator or skipper, rather than to the vessel owner. Application forms and procedures for administering the vessel permit program were developed over the summer and the first moratorium vessel permits were issued in September. A total of 18 Korean hair crab vessel permits were issued for the 1996 season.

PWS Sablefish Limitation

The first interim-use permits for the Prince William Sound sablefish fixed, net and pot gear fisheries were issued since the fishery was limited in 1995. This added a new complication to the fishery code system as these permits have vessel length restrictions incorporated in the fishery code. For example, in fishery code "C4AE" the C indicates sablefish, 4 indicates net gear, A indicates vessel length may be no greater than 90' overall and E indicates the area is Prince William Sound.

Southeast Dungeness Crab Limitation

A fishery code system was adopted for the Southeast dungeness crab pot fishery in which the tier indicating the number of pots authorized by the permit is part of the fishery code. In the D9AA fishery code, the first A indicates up to 300 pots may be fished; a D9DA permit allows only 75 pots to be fished (or 25% of the maximum pots allowed by the Board of Fisheries).

New Vessel License Fees

In accordance with HB 230 enacted during 1995, vessel license fees for 1996 were based upon the overall length of the vessel, rather than the flat $20 fee which had been in effect since the 1970s. There are now six categories of vessel license fees ranging from $20 to $750.

The table on the following page shows counts of permits by type, as well as vessels licensed and numbers of resident and nonresident fishers.

Permit Transfers

The number of requests for permanent and emergency transfer reviewed during 1996 totalled 1,931, slightly down from the 1995 level of 1,984. 1996 was the second consecutive year in which the number of emergency transfer requests declined; the total was 937 (compared to 946 in 1995 and 974 in 1994). Approximately 994 permanent transfer requests were reviewed during 1996, compared to 1,079 during 1995.

Permanent and Emergency Transfers

Licenses Issued for 1996

Limited Entry Permits Not Renewed 618
Limited Entry Permits with Fees Waived* 210
Limited Entry Permits Revoked or Lapsed (since 1975) 767

Limited Entry Permits Renewed 12,519
Interim Permits in Fisheries Under Limitation or Moratoria 1,443
Interim Permits in Open-to-Entry Fisheries 12,119
Special Harvest Area (Hatchery) permits 22
Educational Entry Permits 1
Vessel Permits ** 18
Total Permits Paid for 1996 26,122
Vessels Licensed for 1996 16,301
Total Permits and Vessel Licenses 42,423
Alaska Resident Permit Holders 11,494
Nonresident Permit Holders 3,767
Total Permit Holders 15,261

*Fees for limited entry permits may be waived in the event of season-long closures.

**Vessel permits were issued for the first time in 1996 in the Bering Sea Korean hair crab fishery.

Permanent Transfers

A breakdown of permanent transfer requests by type of transfer is shown below:
Regular Transfers 908
Survivorship Transfers to Spouse 30
Foreclosure Transfers by Loan Agencies 3
Total Approved 941
Denied Transfers 31
Withdrawn Transfer Requests 22
Total Reviewed 994

See the tables at the back of this report for additional information relating to permanent transfers.

Emergency Transfers

Of the 937 emergency transfer requests reviewed, 845 were approved on initial review, 81 were denied and 11 requests were withdrawn prior to a determination. Administrative hearings were requested by 38 of the denied applicants and following the hearings, 28 of those requests were granted, while 10 of the denials were upheld.

The final count of emergency transfers approved was 872, involving 834 permits; some permits were transferred more than one time during the year. (806 permits were emergency transferred once, 26 transferred twice, and 2 permits were transferred 3 or more times during the year.)

New Vessel License Fee Categories

1996 vessel license application fees were based on overall length of vessels. Instead of the $20 fee which previously applied to all vessels, the new fee categories range from $20 for vessels 25' and under up to $750 for vessels over 250'. The number of vessels in each category and the revenue generated from license fees is shown below:

* Vessels counted in the "unknown" category include those renewed as "two year renewals" during 1994 and 1995; the owners had opted to renew for 1996 at the same time (and for the same fee) as the 1995 renewal so they were not subject to the new length categories.

Category Number Fee Revenue
======================= ====== ===== ========
Unknown * 1,139 $ 20 $ 22,780
A - 25' and under 6,298 $ 20 $ 125,960
B - over 25' - 50' 7,476 $ 50 $ 373,800
C - over 50' - 75' 891 $ 100 $ 89,100
D - over 75' - 150' 348 $ 250 $ 87,000
E - over 150' - 250' 124 $ 500 $ 62,000
F - over 250' 25 $ 750 $ 18,750
======================= ====== ===== ========
Total 16,301 $ 779,390

Two year renewal of vessel licenses was no longer available as an option in 1996. It created problems in the past and made it difficult to get timely and accurate information pertaining to addresses, vessel activities and registrations for various fisheries which often change on an annual basis.

Field Office Operations

Licensing section staff again provided licensing and transfer assistance in Dillingham and King Salmon during 1996. The Dillingham office was staffed prior to the herring season from April 23-27 and for salmon from June 10-21. The King Salmon office was operated June 10 - July 17. The field offices generated $10,060 in "user fees" to cover operating costs. Staff assisted with 148 emergency transfer requests and issued approximately 988 permits and vessel licenses.

Field Office Permits Issued Vessels Licensed Total
Dillingham 373 168 541
King Salmon 281 166 447
Total 654 334 988

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