State funding to help promote AK seafood is ZERO
The seafood industry puts more people to work in Alaska than any other. And seafood is Alaska’s largest export by far comprising over half of Alaska’s total annual export value.
Alaska’s seafood export value has averaged $3.3 billion over the past decade, according to the Alaska Resource Development Council.
But in his current budget, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced more than $760 million in budget vetoes, including a $5 million cut for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute – the only state entity tasked with increasing the value of Alaska’s catches. The state completely zeroed out ASMI’s funding in 2019.
ASMI is solely funded by a 0.5% voluntary, industry tax based on dock prices and some competitive grant funding.
Compare that to Norway’s Seafood Council which is funded by a small tax on all seafood exports and has an annual budget of $55 million.
The cuts follow a familiar pattern. Last year Dunleavy went back on his word and vetoed $3 million in federal CARES funds for ASMI – after raving about its importance a week prior.
That funding was intended to offset costs and additional safety measures that seafood businesses have had to bear due to the Covid pandemic.
Spokesman Jeff Turner said in an email that ASMI received $7 million in federal COVID relief funds and has “a substantial amount of program revenue available to carry into the next fiscal year.”
That leftover amount is $3.1 million, reported KFSK/Petersburg.
“After a thorough review of the agency’s funding, it was determined that the $5 million wasn’t needed this fiscal year for ASMI to promote and advertise Alaska seafood,” Turner wrote. “All the funds that were vetoed from the FY23 budget will be deposited in the state’s rainy day fund, the Constitutional Budget Reserve account.”
The Alaska Legislature could override the governor’s vetoes, but it would take 45 votes. Since Dunleavy has been in office, there has not been enough support for overrides.
ASMI revenues dropped 25% in 2020, due to an estimated $500 million in lost income to the statewide fleet from Covid impacts.