Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/17/1997 08:15 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HOUSE BILL 19                                                                
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to licensing of sport fishing services                 
       operators and  fishing  guides; and  providing  for  an                 
       effective date."                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN stated that licensing of sport                 
  fishing is  an  important  and  rapidly  growing  commercial                 
  industry in the Alaska economy.  The ability of the State to                 
  provide  for   the  sustainable  development  and  a  sound,                 
  sensible management  of  our fishery  resource is  dependent                 
  upon the availability of complete  information from which to                 
  base decisions.                                                              
                                                                               
  He noted that there is lack  of data available regarding the                 
  commercial guided sport  fishery in  Alaska.  Currently,  no                 
  uniform licensing procedure for sport  fish guides exists in                 
  Alaska.  Registration  of the guides themselves  is required                 
  on a few rivers,  but not everywhere.  Thus, we  do not have                 
                                                                               
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  complete  information  about  who  is  actively  engaged  in                 
  commercial sport fish guiding, how  many clients are served,                 
  what the  catch  rates are,  and  what rivers,  streams  and                 
  marine waters are being utilized.                                            
                                                                               
  Representative Austerman pointed out that Section 1 of HB 19                 
  would include "the  sport fishing  services industry"  under                 
  the authorities  of the Board  of Fisheries, "as  needed for                 
  the conservation, development and utilization of fisheries".                 
  Inclusion  of  that  language,  gives  the  Board  the  same                 
  regulatory authority  with guide business  operators that it                 
  currently  has with  the  commercial,  sport, guided  sport,                 
  subsistence and personal  use fishing.  The  "guided sport",                 
  currently,  in   existing   statute   has   been   generally                 
  interpreted to limit the  Board's regulatory authority  over                 
  exclusively guided anglers.                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Austerman continued, HB 19 would establish in                 
  statute,  a  sport fish  guide  licensing program  and would                 
  require the  Alaska Department of  Fish and Game  to collect                 
  the needed  information for  a period  of three  years.   It                 
  would not impose any limitations on  the number of guides or                 
  vessels in the State,  nor would it affect their  activities                 
  other than having  to report  and carry that  documentation.                 
  The  cost   of  licensing,  data   gathering,  analysis  and                 
  enforcement would be  funded by the revenues  generated from                 
  the license  fees.   The  program  would be  fiscally  self-                 
  sustaining.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative  Austerman provided  a sectional  analysis of                 
  the proposed legislation  indicating how it would  relate to                 
  the proposed amendment.  He noted that new language had been                 
  added, following a  determination by the attorney  for Board                 
  of Fish and the Attorney General's  office that the Board of                 
  Fish  does not  have  the authority  to regulate  the guided                 
  sport industry.  It had been  assumed that they carried that                 
  authority.   The new  language addresses  that concern.   He                 
  elaborated  that the  amendment  provided by  Representative                 
  Mulder removes the new language.  [Copy on file].                            
                                                                               
  LARRY  ENGEL,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  BOARD   OF                 
  FISHERIES,  MAT-SU,  explained  that  the  Alaska  Board  of                 
  Fisheries supports the legislation.  Both  the Board and the                 
  task force believe that a  comprehensive licensing system is                 
  needed  to better define the diverse industry.  The proposed                 
  licensing system provides  needed definitions for  companies                 
  and  individuals   who  provide   sport  fishing,   guiding,                 
  chartering,   and  outfitting   services.     Through   such                 
  definitions, it is hoped that the industry can be more fully                 
  identified and organized.  He added, it is believed that the                 
  definitions  will close  loopholes  in current  definitions,                 
  thereby, providing a  level playing  field for the  industry                 
                                                                               
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  and  for  better  enforcement of  regulations  pertaining to                 
  sport fishing guides and charters.                                           
                                                                               
  Mr.  Engel  acknowledged  that   a  comprehensive  licensing                 
  program will  add stability  to this  economically important                 
  industry which supports many jobs throughout Alaska.                         
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder commented that he supported  licensing                 
  guides, but had misgivings with  the broad regulatory powers                 
  bestowed upon the  Board.   He questioned why  the Board  of                 
  Fisheries was  taking such a  pro-active stance.   Mr. Engel                 
  replied that the Board of Fisheries has embraced the concept                 
  of the legislation.  The Board wants to know  who the guides                 
  are and  how they  run their business.   At  this time,  the                 
  guides only need to  register.  He reiterated that  there is                 
  no  accountability and no  licensing.  Representative Mulder                 
  questioned  at  what point  does  the board  become punitive                 
  toward the guides.                                                           
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley asked  who was  responsible for setting  the                 
  limitation for guides on the Kenai  River.  Mr. Engel stated                 
  that the requirements are established by the Alaska Board of                 
  Fisheries.  Co-Chair Hanley questioned the net effect if the                 
  language was deleted  as proposed in Amendment  #1. [Copy on                 
  file].                                                                       
                                                                               
  KEVIN  DELANEY,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  DIRECTOR,                 
  DIVISION  OF  SPORT  FISH,  DEPARTMENT  OF  FISH  AND  GAME,                 
  ANCHORAGE, voiced support for the  proposed legislation.  He                 
  noted that  sport fish  guiding is  a critical  link in  the                 
  State's natural resource based economy.   Sport fish guiding                 
  activities have increased  across all regions of  the State.                 
  With  this  growth has  come  increased concern  for fishery                 
  resources and the  quality of the sport  fishing experience.                 
  HB 19 would  provide for  definition of statutory  reporting                 
  requirements and penalties for noncompliance.  If adopted by                 
  law, the legislation  would acknowledge  this industry as  a                 
  profession which utilizes the  State's fishery resources and                 
  would create a framework for the industry in the future.                     
                                                                               
  JOHN  GLASS,  (TESTIFIED   VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   DIRECTOR,                 
  DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE  PROTECTION, ANCHORAGE, stated                 
  that the Division  of Fish and Wildlife  Protection endorses                 
  passage of the proposed legislation.                                         
                                                                               
  JOHN  GOODHAND,  (TESTIFIED   VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   VALDEZ                 
  CHARTER  BOAT ASSOCIATION,  TASK  FORCE  FOR GUIDE  CHARTER,                 
  VALDEZ, agreed that  the proposed legislation  would provide                 
  accountability for all guides.                                               
                                                                               
  (Tape Change HFC 97-103, Side 1).                                            
                                                                               
                                                                               
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  Mr. Goodhand continued,  the proposed  legislation is not  a                 
  limited  entry  program.   He  referenced  the  large growth                 
  within the industry.                                                         
                                                                               
  DAN  COFFEY,  (TESTIFIED   VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   ATTORNEY,                 
  SUBCOMMITTEE,  BOARD OF FISHERIES, ANCHORAGE, noted that the                 
  Board formally supports the proposed  legislation because of                 
  the substantial growth  in the  guided fishery industry  and                 
  the  difficulties the Board  has experienced  resulting from                 
  that growth.   The  Board believes  that the legislation  is                 
  appropriate and necessary.                                                   
                                                                               
  ALAN  LEMASTER,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  GAKONA,                 
  voiced his concerns with the  proposed fees.  Representative                 
  Austerman explained that the Department of Law has indicated                 
  that  cases  exist  in  reference  to license  fees  between                 
  resident and non-residents.   The Department recommends that                 
  the current ratio  should be lower determined by  the amount                 
  of State dollars spent on the industry.                                      
                                                                               
  STEVEN DAUGHERTY,  ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL,  ALASKA BOARD                 
  OF FISHERIES, DEPARTMENT OF LAW,  explained that the Board's                 
  current authority under Section 12, AS 05.16.05.251, is over                 
  guided sport fishing,  not direct  authority over the  guide                 
  him/herself.  The guide is not  the person who is physically                 
  engaged in the activity,  rather, the one who is  taking the                 
  client  out.   Most of  the  Board's regulations  are worded                 
  specifically toward  the  client.   There  are  only  a  few                 
  regulations which  directly apply  to guides.   Registration                 
  requirements have  been approved  by the  Department of  Law                 
  because they are reasonably necessary  in order to implement                 
  the Board's authority to  guide sport fishermen and are  not                 
  substantive requirements.                                                    
                                                                               
  Mr. Daugherty  continued, there  will be  challenges if  the                 
  Board  is  not  given explicate  authority  to  regulate the                 
  guided  sport  industry rather  than  just the  guided sport                 
  fishermen.                                                                   
                                                                               
  DONALD  WESTLUND,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  CHARTER                 
  GUIDE,  KETCHIKAN,  suggested that  the  bill would  cause a                 
  duplication of  reporting for the  sport fish industry.   He                 
  noted that he did not support the legislation.                               
                                                                               
  HB 19 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                       

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