Revenue fishing's a poor way to fund Fish and Game budget, caucus concludes

Test fishing is a poor way for Alaska Department of Fish and Game to pay for fisheries research. That was the consensus among legislators at a recent Fish Caucus meeting in Juneau. Also called "revenue fishing," the practice refers to the harvest and sale of fish or shellfish for the primary purpose of generating revenue.

Originally, test fishing was conducted for research purposes, or to determine run strength. But as state legislators have ratcheted the Fish and Game budget down over the past decade, more costs are being covered by the sale of fish caught by vessels contracted by the department.

"Laws for the Sea" reports that according to Commercial Fisheries Director Doug Mecum, since 1988 the department, under legislative direction, has been catching fish to sell for money to pay for activities ranging from aerial surveys to smolt counting.

A tally Mecum prepared for the caucus showed that test fishing expenditures have increased from $1.6 million in fiscal 1992 to $2.7 million in the current year. He noted that about half of those amounts are paid to the harvesters contracted to catch the fish, as reported in "Laws."

Rep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, who organized the caucus session, has urged other lawmakers to educate themselves about revenue fishing. Dyson reportedly went to great lengths to make sure the department was not criticized for the practice. "ADF&G has not been sneaky. No one is saying the money raised is being used inappropriately. The department has been backed into the process by a lack of appropriations," Dyson said.

However, Dyson and others believe the practice might benefit from some changes. A report completed last month by Bruce Gabrys of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association raised concerns that test fishing results in a loss to common property fisheries. It also notes that the department can depress fish prices with the rate in its contracts.

Gabrys said test fishing amounts to a de facto tax on commercial harvesters. Since the department’s research benefits all user groups, he suggested that other user groups should contribute more to the cost of research.

"Some group of legislators needs to decide what they think we should do," Dyson said after the caucus. "Maybe some broad tax or user fee, and I would hope that would be on all of the users of the stock, including sport fish, personal use and guided fisheries, as well as commercial fisheries to support the research that benefits the fish they utilize. My guess is we may see some legislation following one of those schemes."

Fish oil and headaches

Researchers claim that adding certain fish oils to the diet of adolescents helps reduce recurring headaches. A presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies and American Academy of Pediatrics Joint Meeting in Boston described how 27 teens were given fish oil and olive oil supplements for two months.

During the fish oil treatments, 87 percent said the number of headaches was reduced, headache duration was reduced in 74 percent of the cases, and severity was reduced in 83 percent of the teens. The olive oil treatments resulted in just slightly lower percentages.

Nearly 93 percent of the test subjects said they would recommend both fish oil and olive oil to friends or relatives who suffer from frequent headaches. The researchers concluded that the overwhelming improvement in the teenage patients suggests that the use of fish and olive oils should not be dismissed as simply having a placebo effect.

Scots add sushi to lunches

Japanese sushi is being added to school lunches in Scotland. According to, the menu addition is part of an effort to provide a more healthy diet for school kids. Heart disease and obesity in Scotland are at an all time high, and it’s hoped that children will opt for healthier alternatives to the traditional diet of meat pies and deep fried foods.

The nutritional plans are being spearheaded by the Glasgow City Council, which has already introduced Indian, Mexican and Chinese dishes as part of an award winning "Fuel Zone" school lunch program.

"As Japanese cuisine is renowned for its nutritional content, it would be fantastic if youngsters decided it was something they would like to eat more often," said Glasgow lunch director Fergus Chambers.

The Japanese have the lowest rate of heart disease in the world, and that is credited in great part to their diet. Along with being healthier, Chambers and others believe that foods like sushi are more interesting and fun.

11/12/2016 - 5:50pm