The budget impasse with Alaska legislators is wreaking havoc on salmon fisheries across the state, and the industry is bracing for the possibility of a complete shutdown in some regions.
If lawmakers can’t agree on a budget by June 1, all state workers will be on notice for layoffs starting July 1. That includes 750 full-time and seasonal workers in the commercial fisheries division, many of whom are the boots on the ground for salmon management.
“The word that comes to my mind is catastrophic,” said Scott Kelley, director of the state commercial fisheries division.
It is budget delay déjà vu for state workers and the salmon industry, but unlike last year, no remaining dollars are in the fishing till.
“Last year we had some partial funding remaining. This year there is no funding at all. We have to think about a hard shutdown on July 1,” said Kevin Brooks, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.