ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — More than half of Alaska's adult residents purchased a fishing or hunting and trapping license in 2018, generating about $5 million in revenue between resident and non-resident license sales according to the Department of Fish and Game.
That's just one aspect of Fish and Game that contributes to the department's $11.8 billion return on investment, according to newly compiled data.
The Department of Fish and Game has been compiling this data over the past eight years with the help of of organizations like the Institute of Social and Economic Research and the McDowell Group.
The data shows that nearly $5 billion annually is generated from commercial fisheries, $1.9 billion from sport fishing, $4.6 billion from wildlife, and around $300 million from subsistence.
Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang told KTUU that this data demonstrates how important Fish and Game resources are to Alaskans.
"I think it's important that Alaskans understand that we're using money that's allocated to us through the legislature and the governor's office, and returning that into a wise investment into their future," said Vincent-Lang. "So right now, we're taking about $197 million dollars of a total funding of which about $70 million is unrestricted general funds, and we're returning on an investment about $11 billion dollars on that money."
Vincent-Lang says the Department of Fish and Game helps create jobs, brings in tourists, supports communities, and a lot of Alaskans rely on Fish and Game resources to put food on the table.
"It's one of the reasons we became a state. We fought federal overreach, and people didn't feel like they were getting a fair shake on fishery resources across the state," Vincent-Lang said. "We fought hard to preserve those rights during ANILCA battles and ANCSA battles, so yeah, the people really value fish and game."
The department also analyzed tourism numbers which showed that over 2.25 million visitors came to Alaska between 2015 and 2016, which was a 37% increase in the number of tourists between 2006 and 2016. It also showed tourism provided more than 52,000 jobs at the peak of the season.