EDITOR, Daily News:

The fishing and mariculture industries — including fishing, processing, and management and hatcheries — produce $5.6 billion in economic output to Alaska’s economy and employ almost 60,000 workers each year. One of my main priorities as the District 36 representative is to protect and enhance our seafood industry.

I am sponsoring House Bill 41, which will allow qualified nonprofits to pursue enhancement and restoration projects for shellfish species. It passed the House last week. If it passes the Senate, it will play an important role in the development of the mariculture industry.

I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 115, which simplifies the lease renewal process for aquatic farms. HB 115 has also passed the House, and if it passes the Senate, it will support the mariculture industry by reducing administrative overhead.

I’m also fighting for fisheries within our budget. In the House Finance Committee last week, we voted to include $650,000 of surcharge revenue to support the management work of the Crystal Lake Hatchery and DIPAC. Both the sport fishing and commercial fishing communities support this addition and the benefits it would have to our king salmon stocks.

It’s been a busy year for the fishing and mariculture industries in the legislature, and I am hopeful that these bills will pass to help the growth of the industry. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these seafood bills, feel free to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@akleg.gov or call my office.

REP. DAN ORTIZ

House District 36

Ketchikan