I am pleased to report some good news on a process that many of you have been patient participants in for over three years.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, at the urging of my office and a great number of you, officially requested that Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) expedite permit holder payments for applications without red flags as soon as possible; PSMFC agreed to the request.
After several discussions about the particulars, PSMFC agreed to review applications with fish and game, identify those without red flags, and start sending full payments to those permit holders in the second week of February. Please keep in mind that this represents a best-estimate and that this process has a demonstrably poor track record of adhering to timelines.
If an application is thought to be missing crew information (seine permits that listed zero, one, or two crew), you should be receiving a letter in the next week from PSMFC requesting additional information/explanation. This information must be returned in writing (email or letter). If an application has a pending crew appeal (crew member was not included or contests their crew %), then PSMFC will reach out to the permit holder and request more information.
Out of the two options presented to PSMFC (a partial distribution to everyone with a portion withheld pending crew review or reviewing, prioritizing, and sending full payments to approved applications first), this was what they agreed to.
I understand that this isn’t a perfect solution, and that some of you will still have to wait longer for a resolution. however, I do take solace in the fact that this will result in many disbursements going out earlier than they would have otherwise, while not slowing the process for others. I strongly encourage you to be extremely proactive with information if PSMFC contacts you.
I would like to personally extend my thanks to Commissioner Vincent-Lang and Deputy Commissioner Baker from Fish and Game for their willingness to listen, take this on, and approach PSMFC with this request.
I know this news will generate a lot of questions. I just received the word from Fish and Game today and still have many questions myself; however, I wanted you to know as soon as we did. I will update the online version of the paper and our email list as soon as we know more. Please reach out to my staff Matt Gruening, at firstname.lastname@example.org, (907) 465-3271 or Karla Bush with Fish and Game at email@example.com, (907)465-6153 with any questions.