The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is still finalizing a plan to for the most recent cut to its budget, but Bristol Bay shouldn’t see too many more cuts, said Commercial Fisheries Director Jeff Regnart during a recent visit to Dillingham
During the special session in June, the Legislature cut about $1.3 million in general fund dollars from Fish and Game’s budget for the new fiscal year, which started July 1, Regnart said. The Division of Commercial Fisheries will take the largest cut, about $850,000.
“We’ll have a package put together by mid-week next week,” Regnart said. “I can’t tell you whether or not it’s going to impact the bay. The bay has been hit pretty substantially already, with what we’ve done during the legislative cycle. There still might be a few tweaks here. But I don’t see anything significant.”
Regnart said the department was already planning on cuts to Bristol Bay management this summer based on earlier versions of the budget. That includes ending the count at the Nushagak sonar in July, so it won’t count pinks and chums in August.
“We’ll still manage, and we’ll manage based on the fisheries performance, but likely we’re gonna be more conservative, which means less opportunity probably, because if we’re not sure, we will err on the side of the fish,” Regnart said.
That will save the department about $90,000, but likely comes at a cost to the fishery, Regnart said.