WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced legislation that would provide commercial fishermen a temporary income tax credit to help them  offset the high cost of fuel.


“My office has received a petition signed by more than 1,700 Alaskans asking Congress to help provide commercial fishermen with emergency relief from high fuel prices,” Murkowski said. “The Fisheries Fuel Tax Relief Act of 2008, which I introduced today along with Sen. Ted Stevens as an original co-sponsor, would go a long way toward helping our fishermen out in these dire economic times.”


The tax credit would be based on the difference between the price of fuel on Labor Day 2004, adjusted for inflation, and prices paid this year. The excessive fuel costs would be an additional deduction for an eligible taxpayer, and the tax credit would be applicable for a two-year period following enactment of the legislation.


“Diesel fuel prices in Alaska and across the nation have increased more than 50 percent over the past year,” Murkowski said. “Some fishermen are reporting that they are now spending up to 70 percent of their income for fuel.”


Senator Ted Stevens said: "Soaring fuel costs have dramatically impacted Alaska's commercial fishermen.  As I travel around the state, many people have told me that they can no longer afford to fuel their boats and cannot earn a living. This is having an unfortunate effect on Alaska's families that depend on fishing as their only income. It also hurts our nation, because our seafood fills Americans' freezers from coast to coast. Something must be done now. I am pleased to join Senator Murkowski in introducing this bill that will provide much needed relief for our commercial fishermen, and I urge Congress to pass it as quickly as possible."


Murkowski said that high fuel prices are having a “devastating impact” on the commercial fishing industry because fishermen don’t have the option of passing the cost of fuel on to customers, turning to alternative modes of transportation or selling their product for a higher price.


“Fish prices, in most cases, are set by the seafood processing sector and are tied to prices in the global seafood market,” Murkowski said.


Murkowski said that fishermen all over the country are staying tied to the dock, unable to make enough money from their catch to pay for fuel.


“In Gloucester and Biloxi, Key West and Honolulu, Point Judith and Kodiak, fishermen simply can’t afford to go fishing,” she said. “And some U.S. vessels are running all the way from the Gulf of Mexico and California to Mexico to buy fuel. When fishermen can’t go fishing, they can’t make their boat and permit payments. Many are simply going out of business.


“Since more than 80 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, we simply can’t afford for this to happen. We must try to help the fishing industry weather this storm. I believe this legislation will help us do that.”