Brine shrimp have become an important commercial product of the Great Salt Lake and should be creating a return for the state, Rep. Nancy Lyon, R-Bountiful, says.

However, Lyon failed to persuade members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee to support a proposal to impose royalties on businesses that extract brine shrimp from the lake. The panel instead referred the issue for interim study.Lyon said approximately 5 million pounds per year of brine shrimp were being taken from the lake and sold primarily to aquaculturists in Oriental countries who raise prawns. In 1990, 19 companies had licenses to harvest brine shrimp. Although the companies pay license fees, there is no return to the state for the brine shrimp themselves, she said. She estimated that a royalty could raise $150,000 to $200,000 for state use.

Representatives of the brine shrimp industry said they are getting increasing competition and that an additional business expense would be damaging to them. State wildlife representatives also said income derived from the lake should go back to protect and enhance resources.

A study of the brine shrimp issue should include other matters related to Utah's sovereign lands, legislators said.