Are you a fisherman who’s been hurt on the job? This bill could help.

Are you a fisherman who’s been hurt on the job? This bill could help.

Rep. Ortiz attempts to ease the burden on vessel owners’ insurance claims

An Alaska representative is attempting to ease the burden on vessel owners’ insurance claims.

Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, is sponsoring House Bill 105, which would allow vessel owners to be entitled to receive a benefit if a fisherman files a claim for benefits under the Commercial Fisherman’s Fund. The bill allows an owner to fully recover the protection and indemnity deductible from the fund up to the amount of $5,000, he said.

“The Fisherman’s Fund, this particular bill was heard by the Fisheries committee last year and it passed out of the committee last year so it’s a repeat of that particular bill. … It’s based on the Fisherman’s Fund itself which was created in 1951 and provides the treatment and care of Alaska’s licensed and commercial fisherman who have been injured onshore or offshore in Alaska,” Ortiz said during a Tuesday House Fisheries committee meeting.

The Fishermen’s Fund provides for the treatment and care of Alaska licensed commercial fishermen who have been injured while fishing on shore or offshore in Alaska, according to the Division of Worker’s Compensation website. Benefits from the fund are financed from revenue received from each resident and nonresident commercial fisherman’s license and permit fee. The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development oversees administration of the program with the assistance of the Fishermen’s Fund Advisory and Appeals Council.

Ortiz said it’s created by fisherman for fisherman from a portion of the license fee and it’s essentially a payer of last resort.

Keeping the fund sustainable for future generations is of paramount importance Ortiz said, and he said the passage of this bill wouldn’t affect the sustainability of the fund.

The current value of the fund is $11.7 million and every year there’s about $1.1 million that goes into it, said Liz Harpold, one of Ortiz’s staff. Last year there were 110 crew member claims paid out, she said.

“The number of crew member claims is quite a bit higher than vessel owner claims, and so by shifting the burden onto the vessel owner’s (protection and indemnity) insurance it will help reduce that burden onto the Fisherman’s Fund itself,” Harpold said.

Insurance for employees on vessels is relatively high compared to shoreside employees, so this fund provides a way for fisherman to insure their employees, said Bob Kehoe, the executive director for the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association.

Kehoe said the Legislature’s effort provides a financial incentive to vessel owners to obtain insurance to fully cover their crew members in event of an injury, since currently vessel owners are not required by law to hold this insurance unlike shoreside employers.

“(HB 105) will further promote the goal of insuring all of the medical fees of injured crew members are satisfied,” Kehoe said.

More in News

In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Montgomery, Ala. Palin is on the verge of making new headlines in a legal battle with The New York Times. A defamation lawsuit against the Times, brought by the brash former Alaska governor in 2017, is set to go to trial starting Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in federal court in Manhattan. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Palin COVID-19 tests delay libel trial against NY Times

Palin claims the Times damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 at all-time high statewide

The state reported 5,759 new cases sequenced from Jan. 21-23

Volunteers serve food during Project Homeless Connect on Jan. 25, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)
Project Homeless Connect to provide services, support on Wednesday

The event will be held at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Schools aim for ‘business as usual’ as cases reach new highs

On Monday, there were 14 staff members and 69 students self-isolating with the virus

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate construction on hold as theater seeks additional funding

The new theater is projected to cost around $4.7 million.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
KPBSD schools to start 2 hours late Tuesday

Due to weather, all but 4 schools will be delayed

Data from the state of Alaska show a steep increase in COVID-19 cases in January 2022. (Department of Health and Social Services)
Omicron drives COVID spike in Alaska as officials point to decreasing cases in eastern US

On Friday, the seven-day average number of daily cases skyrocketed to 2,234.6 per 100,000 people

Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire
Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise Adventures, stands in front of a ship on May 14, 2021.
Smooth sailing for the 2022 season?

Cautious optimism reigns, but operators say it’s too early to tell.

Former Alaska Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar speaks a news conference on Jan. 10, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, after she sued the state. A federal judge on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, ruled that Bakalar was wrongfully terminated by the then-new administration of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy for violating her freedom of speech rights. (AP File Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Judge sides with attorney who alleged wrongful firing

Alaska judge says the firing violated free speech and associational rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.

Most Read