AK - Fish Factor: Dunleavy budget poses threat to shellfish growers

Alaska shellfish farmers and divers fear they won’t be ‘open for business’ much longer if they’re forced to pick up the tab for federally required lab tests as outlined in Governor Dunleavy’s budget.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed shifting the state cost to the harvesters which last year totaled almost half a million dollars.  

Geoduck clam divers in Southeast Alaska, for example, pay about $150,000 each year to collect samples that are sent to the single federally approved laboratory in Anchorage and tested for paralytic shellfish poison and other toxins. Divers also pay $20,000 for water quality samples twice a year, and $8,000 to test for inorganic arsenic.

“And then we pay the Alaska Department of Fish and Game about $25,000 a year for them to do the management and assessment of the geoduck resource,” said Phil Doherty, co-director of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Association (SARDFA).

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