Craig Medred’s Dec. 30, 2014, opinion piece “Oil pays the way while extraction giants like fishing and mining skate” was just more of the deceptive bravado and vindictive rhetoric that appears to be his trademark. I can easily buy into Medred’s first few paragraphs pointing out that Alaskans have not let wisdom get in the way of mitigating inevitable declining oil revenues, but the apples vs. oranges comparison of tax rates, royalties and revenues scapegoat commercial fishing in particular and obscure economic realities while further politicizing complex issues.
Direct comparison of a revenue stream from a given resource type to a fundamentally different one is particularly problematic. After all, fishery resources renewable on a consistent annual basis should be and always are treated far differently than non-renewable natural resources like oil and minerals. The state’s ability to prudently appropriate revenue from extraction of the resources it controls is also dependent on many other factors specific to the activity such as history of use, sustainability, costs, the effects on other resource use, competing users, etc. ... and politics.
For example, the $1 billion in fisheries value cited by Medred just reflects only one of the main taxes on the ex-vessel price. (Actually ex-vessel value is close to $2 billion). There are many other fees and tax levies on commercially harvested seafood as it makes its someone's plate -- including local landing taxes, license fees, business property taxes, marketing taxes and others. Calculation of the actual tax amount paid by the commercial fishing industry is far more complex than the Medred-cited $7.1 million line item in the revenue report.
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