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The Entry Commission's Licensing Section plays a vital role in Alaska's commercial fishing industry as it issues all of the permits and vessel licenses required for individuals and vessels to fish commercially in the state on an annual basis. The licensing workload fluctuates with the seasonal nature of the fisheries, with the majority of the 50,000 licenses issued between November and June. In addition to permit and vessel license issuance, the section reviews and makes determinations of approval or denial of all requests for permanent and emergency (temporary) transfers of entry permits.
The small licensing staff has been able to cope with the increasing demands of the workload only through extensive reliance upon automated equipment and a customized database system developed and maintained by the Commission's data processing staff. In the past few years, despite the highly efficient licensing system, staff resources have been strained by the growing number of telephone calls to which the section must respond, and the increasing complexity of the subject matter. Licensing staff must be aware of statutory, regulatory and programmatic changes in fisheries throughout the state, as well as developments in federally managed fisheries (such as the potential implementation of a federal moratorium or IFQ program). As confusion among fishermen escalates in regards to the legal requirements with which they must deal, so does the amount of time the licensing staff spends responding to inquiries. This has a definite impact on "turnaround time" for processing license applications and transfer requests as there are days when the staff has almost no time to work on applications received in the mail because of the number of incoming phone calls.
The new format for permit and vessel license renewal forms developed in-house, which was first used for the 1992 season, has been very successful in improving efficiency. Combining several licenses on a single form significantly reduced the amount of paper handling, speeding the data entry and embossing processes and decreasing the amount of filing. It also simplified the renewal process for the fishermen and many favorable comments have been received. In addition, the new format provides more flexibility in dealing with late-breaking developments that affect licensing, since the Commission is no longer subject to the time constraints of outside vendors.
During 1992, permit transfer activity increased slightly over the 1991 level, with a total of 1,860 requests received. This included 1,005 requests for permanent transfer, of which 55 were denied and 950 approved, and 855 requests for emergency transfer, of which 30 were denied and 825 approved. The accompanying graph clearly demonstrates the seasonal nature of the transfer workload. During the five months from March through July, the transfer staff reviewed 73% of the total transfer requests received during 1992. During the peak of the transfer season, it has been necessary for 2-3 licensing staff to divert their efforts from their regular duties to transfers in order to maintain an acceptable level of service. The transfer process has become more involved over time due to the increasing complexity of related issues such as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Child Support Enforcement lien problems, more permits held by estates, etc., with the result that the workload is definitely more than one person can possibly handle. During 1993, it is anticipated that one or two positions will be reclassified to work primarily with transfers, at least on a seasonal basis. Providing more extensive cross-training will enable us to utilize limited staff resources more effectively in responding to shifts in distribution of the workload.
The Commission was able to continue the licensing field office operations in Bristol Bay during 1992, although there were cutbacks in the number of days of service provided. The full-time licensing office in Kodiak was closed due to budgetary reductions when the licensing clerk position there became vacant in mid-July. More detail about licensing field office operations follows the breakdown of licenses issued during 1992.
The Commission's licensing section takes in a significant amount of revenue from annual permit and vessel license fees, one-time limited entry application fees, fines and arrearages assessed pursuant to residency investigations or revocation actions, and user fees charged for licensing services at field offices. According to Alaska Statute 23.35.060, the Commission must transfer 60% of the "commercial fishing license" fee for each fisherman (this amounts to $18 for each resident and $54 for each nonresident) to the Fishermen's Fund program administered by the Department of Labor. A breakdown of revenues received during both fiscal and calendar year 1992 appears in the following table.
REVENUE SOURCE * FISCAL YEAR 92 CALENDAR YEAR 92 Permit Fees $ 5,678,255 $ 5,821,370 Vessel License Fees 308,780 335,538 Limited Entry Application Fees 21,870 7,940 Field Office User Fees 41,160 32,820 Fines/Arrearages 81,571 34,514 NSF Check Penalties 1,150 825 Misc. Revenue 68,831 71,694 GROSS REVENUE $ 6,201,617 $ 6,304,701 Refunds -102,328 -104,462 NSF Checks - 10,960 - 11,380 NET REVENUE $ 6,088,329 $ 6,188,859 FISHERMAN FUND TRANSFER $ 467,136 $ 467,046
* This report indicates total revenue received during the specified time period from each source, regardless of the license year; it may include fees for permits and vessel licenses for 1991, 1992 and 1993.
Limited Entry Permits Not Renewed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 491 Limited Entry Permits Revoked or Lapsed (since 1975) . . . . . 537 Limited Entry Permits Renewed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12,929 Interim Permits in Fisheries under Limitation or Moratoria . . . 1,132 Interim Permits in Open-to-Entry Fisheries . . . . . . . . . . .18,137 Special Harvest Area (Hatchery) Permits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Educational Entry Permits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 PERMITS PAID FOR 1992 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32,219 VESSELS LICENSED FOR 1992 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17,194 TOTAL PERMITS AND VESSEL LICENSES . . . . . . . .49,413 Alaska Resident Permit Holders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13,479 Nonresident Permit Holders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,156 TOTAL PERMIT HOLDERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17,635
$467,046 was transferred to the Fishermen's Fund from permit fees for license year 1992.
During 1992, the Commission found it necessary to make some reductions in services provided at licensing field offices. The Kodiak licensing office which had been operated on a full-time basis since 1983 (with the position jointly funded by the ADF&G and CFEC since 1987) was permanently closed on July 16, 1992. The office closure was the result of budget reductions which impacted both ADF&G and CFEC causing the licensing clerk position to become vacant, at which time the Commission could no longer justify expending limited resources to maintain an office which was not fully utilized.
The following chart indicates usage of field office services during 1992. The user fee is a surcharge of $10.00 for each permit or vessel license obtained at a field office.
Field Office Locations Permits Issued* Vessels Licensed Kodiak 2,027 709 Dillingham 946 105 King Salmon 420 137 TOTAL FIELD OFFICE USER FEES $32,820
* Permits Issued includes original cards and duplicates.
In 1992, the Commission provided licensing and transfer service during the Bristol Bay salmon season, through the ADF&G offices in Dillingham and King Salmon, although the period of coverage was reduced significantly from prior years. Rather than providing staff in both Dillingham and King Salmon during most of the season, the Dillingham office was open for one week in early June, then the King Salmon office was operated for the next three weeks, as only one staff member at a time could be spared from the Juneau office. In addition, a licensing clerk was on duty in Dillingham for a few days prior to the herring season.
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