Legislature(1993 - 1994)
05/08/1994 01:10 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 316 An Act relating to commercial fishing penalties. HCS CS SB 316 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no recommendations" and with fiscal notes by the Alaska Court System, the Department of Law dated 3/03/94 and the Department of Public Safety dated 3/16/94, and with a House Judiciary Letter of Intent. SENATE BILL 316 "An Act relating to commercial fishing penalties." DEAN PADDOCK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BRISTOL BAY DRIFT NETTERS' ASSOCIATION, INC.(BBDA), JUNEAU, briefed the Committee that BBDA's top priority is to seek a solution to the situation existing at the North Egegik line. He added that the record of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, twice has shown that within the last seven years there have been proposals submitted which could have reduced violations at the existing boundary. Such proposals will be before the Board at their next meeting for reconsideration of regulations in the Bristol Bay area. Mr. Paddock stated that BBDA does not support the current proposal for the following reasons: 1. The penalties are proposed as a remedy to a unique and unusual situation, yet they would affect fishermen statewide; 2. The proposed penalties will not remedy the cause of the problem, which may be described as the regulatory confining of a great number of fishermen into an extremely limited space, into which large numbers of valuable fish migrate rapidly, especially at certain stages of the tide; 3. The line in question is not visible but is defined by the use of Loran C. Loran C is admitted by all, including the Department of Public Safety, to have a variation of at least plus or minus 100 feet or more in either direction. Thus there is an invisible electronic line with a built-in error of at least 200 feet. In the competitive world of salmon fishing today, the fact creates the existing situation. More stringent penalties will do little to correct this. 2 4. DDBA believes that the problem has now achieved a profile which is bringing attention to the legislation. He asked for more meaningful consideration from the Board of Fisheries, the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Public Safety; and 5. DDBA submits that no other industry of comparable value and importance to the State would be subject to a proposal of similar impact without being provided a better opportunity for process involvement. Representative Grussendorf pointed out that the regulations would negatively impact other small fisheries which do not generate as much value as those in Bristol Bay. COL. WILLIAM VALENTINE, DIRECTOR, FISH AND WILDLIFE PROTECTION, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, emphasized that the problem is with the greed of the fishermen. They push the line hard to make the most money. The legislation would provide the Department a tool to provide a larger deterrent. Representative Navarre provided the Committee with a copy of AS 16.05.722 which clarifies the strict liability of commercial fishing penalties. [Copy on file]. He suggested changing the burden of proof which would make the penalty more stringent. He added that the legislation will not impact the Bristol Bay area as intended, but instead impact the low value fishery areas. Col. Valentine commented that the Department does not want to be in the position to be the judge, jury and enforcement officer. Representative Navarre felt that DPS should have the authority to provide all those services. He understood that seizure of a vessel is allowable by current law and should be implemented more often creating a deterrent that would keep fishermen "towing the lawful line". The monetary fine does not prohibit the fisherman from moving over the line and catching the greater yield of fish. Representative Hanley MOVED to report HCS CS SB 316 (JUD) out of Committee with individual recommendations. Representative Navarre OBJECTED asking for further discussion of the Senate Resource version of the bill which would change the burden to provide "clear and convincing evidence". A roll call vote was taken on the MOTION. IN FAVOR: Therriault, Hanley, Hoffman, Martin, 3 Parnell, Larson. OPPOSED: Grussendorf, Navarre. Representatives Brown, Foster and MacLean were not present for the vote. The MOTION PASSED (6-2). Representative Navarre recommended adding an additional fiscal note to allocate money to adequately fund enforcement. Representative Parnell advised that additional funds were added last year for fish and wildlife protection with no additional work load. There being NO OBJECTIONS to the Letter of Intent, it was adopted. Representative Hanley MOVED to adopt the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTIONS, it was so ordered. HCS CS SB 316 (JUD) was reported out of Committee with "no recommendations" and with a House Judiciary Letter of Intent and with fiscal notes by the Alaska Court System, the Department of Law dated 3/03/94 and the Department of Public Safety dated 3/16/94.