Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS ROOM 519

02/07/2020 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
01:36:42 PM Start
01:38:47 PM Fy 21 Budget Overview: Department of Fish and Game
02:20:22 PM SB74
02:56:18 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ FY21 Dept. Budget Overview: Dept. of Fish & Game TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 205                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain    programs;    capitalizing   funds;    making                                                                    
     appropriations under art.  IX, sec. 17(c), Constitution                                                                    
     of the State of  Alaska, from the constitutional budget                                                                    
    reserve fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
HOUSE BILL NO. 206                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive mental health  program; and providing for                                                                    
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
^FY 21 BUDGET OVERVIEW: DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                                                           
1:38:47 PM                                                                                                                    
DOUG  VINCENT-LANG,  COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF  FISH  AND                                                                    
GAME   (via  teleconference),   introduced  the   PowerPoint                                                                    
presentation: "FY  2021 Budget Overview: Department  of Fish                                                                    
and Game" (copy on file). He  began with slide 2 titled  The                                                                    
Constitution  of the  State of  Alaska,  which  reviewed the                                                                    
portion  of the  states  Constitution  dealing with  natural                                                                    
resources as follows:                                                                                                           
    Article 8  Natural Resources; ? 4. Sustained Yield                                                                          
          Fish,  forests,  wildlife,   grasslands,  and  all                                                                    
          other  replenishable  resources belonging  to  the                                                                    
          State   shall   be    utilized,   developed,   and                                                                    
          maintained  on  the   sustained  yield  principle,                                                                    
          subject to preferences among beneficial uses.                                                                         
     The Alaska Statutes                                                                                                        
          Title   16.  FISH   AND   GAME;  Sec.   16.05.020.                                                                    
          Functions of commissioner.                                                                                            
               (2) manage,  protect, maintain,  improve, and                                                                    
               extend  the  fish,  game, and  aquatic  plant                                                                    
               resources  of the  state in  the interest  of                                                                    
               the economy  and general  well- being  of the                                                                    
     Mission Statement                                                                                                          
          To protect, maintain, and  improve the fish, game,                                                                    
          and  aquatic plant  resources  of  the state,  and                                                                    
          manage  their uses  and  development  in the  best                                                                    
          interest of the economy  and the well-being of the                                                                    
          people   of  the   state,   consistent  with   the                                                                    
          sustained yield principle.                                                                                            
Commissioner Vincent-Lang turned to slide 3 titled " Alaska                                                                     
Department of Fish and Game Core Services:                                                                                      
          Provide   hunting   and   fishing   opportunities,                                                                    
         protect state's rights to manage its fish                                                                              
          and  wildlife   resources,  protect   and  improve                                                                    
          habitat and access.                                                                                                   
     Stock Assessment and Research                                                                                              
          Ensure  sustainability  and  harvestable  surplus,                                                                    
          improve  assessment   and  research  capabilities,                                                                    
          invest in new technologies, anticipate changing                                                                       
     Customer Service and Public Involvement                                                                                    
     Make improvements to information and education                                                                             
     services, the Boards and other regulatory processes,                                                                       
     licensing and permitting.                                                                                                  
1:40:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  continued   to  slide  4  titled                                                                    
 Alaska Department of Fish and Game Economic Value:                                                                             
     Sustainable Management of Fish and Wildlife Resources                                                                      
     means $12.4 billion dollars in economic value to                                                                           
Commissioner Vincent-Lang added that  the Department of Fish                                                                    
and Game (DFG) managed  the resources for sustainability and                                                                    
yield,  to  provide an  economic  benefit,  and improve  the                                                                    
wellbeing  of Alaskans.  He indicated  that DFG  received an                                                                    
approximate  annual  budget of  $200  million  of which  $65                                                                    
million  were either  Unrestricted  General  Funds (UGF)  or                                                                    
General Funds  (GF). The department turned  the  investment                                                                     
into  over  $12  billion  in   economic  value  as  follows:                                                                    
Commercial  Fisheries returned  $5.6 billion;  Sport Fishing                                                                    
returned   $1.9   billion;   Wildlife  $4.6   billion;   and                                                                    
Subsistence $0.3 billion.                                                                                                       
Commissioner Vincent-Lang  turned to Slide 5  titled "Alaska                                                                    
Department  of Fish  and Game  Regional  and Area  Offices."                                                                    
showing the  locations of regional  and area  offices within                                                                    
the  state. He  spoke of  the importance  of serving  remote                                                                    
Commissioner   Vincent-Lang  highlighted   slide  6   titled                                                                    
 Alaska  Department  of  Fish and  Game  FY  2021  Operating                                                                    
Budget Comparison,   which displayed a  bar chart of  the FY                                                                    
21 Operating  Budget compared  to previous  management plans                                                                    
in FY 19  and FY 20. He offered that  the department reduced                                                                    
GF  in total  by 4.2  percent between  FY 19  and FY  21. He                                                                    
noted   that  the   reduction   minimized   the  impact   on                                                                    
sustainability  or investment  returns.  The department  was                                                                    
able to  meet all constitutional, statutory,  and regulatory                                                                    
1:42:08 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Vincent-Lang  moved to  slide 7  titled "Alaska                                                                    
Department of  Fish and Game  FY 2021 Fund  Source Breakdown                                                                    
by Fund  Category.  The  slide depicted a  pie chart  of the                                                                    
percentage  of core  services funded  by  GF for  FY 21.  He                                                                    
noted that nearly half [46.3  percent] was expended on stock                                                                    
assessment  and research,  approximately  30 percent  [27.1]                                                                    
went to  management of surplus  yields, and 20.2  percent to                                                                    
customer  service and  public  involvement.  The slide  also                                                                    
contained  a chart  of DFGs   funding  streams. He  reported                                                                    
that over 70  percent of the budget was  derived from non-GF                                                                    
sources with the majority comprised of federal funds.                                                                           
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  continued   to  slide  8  titled                                                                    
 Department of  Fish and Game Strategy  for Reducing General                                                                    
Fund Authority:                                                                                                                 
          Least impact to return on investment                                                                                  
          Availability of alternative funding                                                                                   
          Opportunity to enter in new partnerships                                                                              
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang related  that  he  had asked  the                                                                    
staff  to evaluate  DFGs  programs  according to  the bullet                                                                    
points  listed on  the slide.  The department  was asked  to                                                                    
identify programs  that could save GF.  He communicated that                                                                    
since much of the Division  of Commercial Fisheries was most                                                                    
dependent on GF most of the impact fell on the division.                                                                        
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang reviewed  Slide 9  titled "Alaska                                                                    
Department of Fish and Game  FY 2021 Operating Budget Change                                                                    
     Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                           
         Southeast Regions Fisheries Management, ($401.7)                                                                    
          UGF, (1) permanent part-time                                                                                          
                $66.2 UGF and 1 permanent part-time                                                                             
               position reduction to close Wrangell Office                                                                      
                $19.9 UGF reduction to dive fishery stock                                                                       
                $315.6 UGF reduction to eliminate Southeast                                                                     
               red king crab assessment                                                                                         
         Central Region Fisheries Management, ($47.2) UGF                                                                    
                $47.2  UGF   reduction  to   eliminate  pike                                                                    
         AYK Region Fisheries Management, ($299.6) UGF                                                                       
                $299.6  UGF reduction  of Bering  Sea salmon                                                                    
         Westward Region Fisheries Management, ($123.2)                                                                      
                $23.2 UGF reduction  of management of Frazer                                                                    
               Lake fish pass                                                                                                   
                $100.0  UGF  reduction  to  Westward  region                                                                    
               facility maintenance                                                                                             
         Statewide Fisheries Management, ($159.0) UGF, (1)                                                                   
          permanent full-time                                                                                                   
                $159.0   UGF  and   1  permanent   full-time                                                                    
               position  reduction  to aquaculture  planning                                                                    
               and permitting                                                                                                   
         Division of Sport Fisheries                                                                                         
                $250.0 UGF reduction  of support for license                                                                    
         Boards of Fisheries and Game                                                                                        
                $24.5  UGF reduction  to  travel for  Boards                                                                    
               supplemental meetings                                                                                            
         Habitat Section                                                                                                     
                $24.0 UGF reduction  to realize savings from                                                                    
               position changes                                                                                                 
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang remarked  that  the slide  listed                                                                    
the  programs that  were either  eliminated  or reduced.  He                                                                    
hoped to find additional grant  money for the Central Region                                                                    
pike   suppression,  Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim   (AYK)  Region,                                                                    
Bering Sea  salmon research, and Westward  Region management                                                                    
of  Frazer  Lake  fish  pass.  He  noted  that  the  license                                                                    
modernization  program was  currently operating  on a  grant                                                                    
and was in  the development stage. He offered  that he would                                                                    
seek  operational  money in  the  future.  He concluded  the                                                                    
1:46:05 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Sullivan-Leonard  asked why weirs  were being                                                                    
removed in  the upper Cook Inlet.  Commissioner Vincent-Lang                                                                    
answered that the reduction happened  in the prior year, but                                                                    
the  count  took  place  because   the  weirs  were  already                                                                    
operating. He  relayed that the  department was  leaving one                                                                    
of three  weirs in place. The  counts at the weir  were used                                                                    
for post-season  assessments to  determine how  accurate the                                                                    
management  decisions were  and would  not affect  in-season                                                                    
management.  He   noted  that   he  would  be   looking  for                                                                    
additional funding  through partnerships to keep  one of the                                                                    
weirs open. He emphasized   that the department could manage                                                                    
the  fisheries under  the current  Board of  Fish management                                                                    
plan  guidance  to  meet  escapement  goals.  Representative                                                                    
Sullivan-Leonard relayed  that she  would be  monitoring the                                                                    
situation closely.                                                                                                              
Commissioner   Vincent-Lang   thanked  the   committee   and                                                                    
welcomed further questions.                                                                                                     
1:48:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz referred  to  slide 9  and  asked for  the                                                                    
total  amount of  the reductions  for commercial  fisheries.                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  responded   that  it  was  about                                                                    
$900,000.  He   deferred  to  the   Administrative  Services                                                                    
DAYNA MACKEY,  ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES  DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT                                                                    
OF FISH  AND GAME, OFFICE  OF MANAGEMENT AND  BUDGET, OFFICE                                                                    
OF THE GOVERNOR responded  that the amount was approximately                                                                    
$1.3 million.                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Ortiz  asked whether the department  analyzed the                                                                    
impact of  the $1.3 million  cut on the $5.6  billion return                                                                    
on investment  cited on  slide 4.  Commissioner Vincent-Lang                                                                    
replied  that   the  largest  impact   would  be   from  the                                                                    
elimination  of  the Southeast  red  king  crab fishery.  He                                                                    
noted that  the fishery  only occurred  about 25  percent of                                                                    
the time  over a  decade. The department  chose to  cut from                                                                    
the Southeast  red king crab  assessment rather than  from a                                                                    
fishery  like  Bristol  Bay,  which  occurred  annually.  He                                                                    
offered to provide  the return on investment  figure for the                                                                    
years the red king crab fishery operated.                                                                                       
1:51:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz thought that  eliminating the red king crab                                                                    
assessment  would  prevent  a   personal  use  fishery  from                                                                    
happening.  He  asked  whether his  statement  was  correct.                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  responded   that  it  would  not                                                                    
impact  subsistence  fisheries. Vice-Chair  Ortiz  clarified                                                                    
that it would impact  the personal use fishery. Commissioner                                                                    
Vincent-Lang  agreed with  the  statement. Vice-Chair  Ortiz                                                                    
wondered how  many personal use  fishers would  be impacted.                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  did  not  know  and  offered  to                                                                    
provide the answer later. He  furthered that his goal was to                                                                    
explore  opportunities for  using  alternative options  like                                                                    
designing  a  fishery  that  would   allow  DFG  to  collect                                                                    
assessment  through  a  commissioners   permit.  The  permit                                                                    
would  allow the  department to  use the  fishery to  obtain                                                                    
stock  assessment  information  in  a  manner  that  allowed                                                                    
informed fishery  management decisions for  future openings.                                                                    
He noted that  currently ADFG used the approach  in Adak and                                                                    
Prince Willian Sound with Tanner crab.                                                                                          
Vice-Chair Ortiz asked about a  $19.9 thousand UGF reduction                                                                    
to  the  dive  fishery   stock  assessment  under  the  same                                                                    
Southeast Region  list. He  asked who  would be  impacted by                                                                    
the  dive   fishery  reduction.   Commissioner  Vincent-Lang                                                                    
answered  that the  reduction  impacted  dive fisheries  for                                                                    
Geoduck  and Sea  cucumbers,  among  others. Typically,  the                                                                    
department  sent  divers  down  to make  an  assessment.  He                                                                    
wanted to  partner with  the fisheries   divers to  design a                                                                    
program that  helped with  the assessment as  a way  to keep                                                                    
the fishery  open. He  did not have  the statistics  for the                                                                    
number   of   people   impacted  but   would   provide   the                                                                    
information.  Vice-Chair Ortiz  asked  for clarification  by                                                                    
what the  commissioner meant by  help  with the assessment.                                                                     
He inquired whether  he wanted the divers to  share the cost                                                                    
of  the   assessment  and  pay  additional   landing  taxes.                                                                    
Commissioner Vincent-Lang responded affirmatively.                                                                              
1:53:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz  asked about the  closure of the  office in                                                                    
Wrangell  due to  a  lack  of use.  He  shared  that he  had                                                                    
information  that showed  the office  was  heavily used.  He                                                                    
asked   for   an  explanation.   Commissioner   Vincent-Lang                                                                    
responded that  he might have  misspoke. He intended  to say                                                                    
that  the  office was  little  used  for the  management  of                                                                    
fisheries. He pointed  out that DFG could  manage the areas                                                                     
fisheries just  as easily out of  Petersburg. The department                                                                    
was modernizing its  licensing through electronic licensing.                                                                    
He  argued  that  given the  proximity  to  Petersburg,  the                                                                    
Wrangell  office could  be  closed  without impacting  stock                                                                    
assessment and  management. He acknowledged that  the office                                                                    
was heavily used by the community.                                                                                              
1:54:58 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
1:55:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster reported  that  Representative Merrick  had                                                                    
joined the committee meeting online.                                                                                            
Co-Chair   Johnston  asked   Commissioner  Vincent-Lang   to                                                                    
explain what the Sustainable Salmon Fund was.                                                                                   
1:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang clarified  that  the  fund was  a                                                                    
federal grant program focused  on sustaining Alaskas  salmon                                                                    
runs  and   protecting  habitats.   The  fund   allowed  the                                                                    
department some  flexibility in making awards  for things it                                                                    
determined  were priorities  for sustaining  Alaskas  salmon                                                                    
resources.  He  related that  the  fund  was used  for  pike                                                                    
suppression in  relation to sport  fishing and he  wanted to                                                                    
expand it to protect  commercial sockeye fisheries. Co-Chair                                                                    
Johnston asked for the annual amount of the grant.                                                                              
Commissioner Vincent-Lang could not  recall the total sum of                                                                    
the  project. He  would  provide  the information.  Co-Chair                                                                    
Johnston asked  whether all the  grant money  was encumbered                                                                    
by  other projects.  Commissioner Vincent-Lang  replied that                                                                    
all the funds  were awarded as grants in the  prior year. He                                                                    
furthered that  he had the  opportunity to  shape  the grant                                                                    
into the  future  for priorities  and planned to  reshape it                                                                    
into  priorities for  UGF  items that  were  reduced in  the                                                                    
budget process.                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Johnston  wondered whether  the state  had matching                                                                    
money for the Pitman  Robertson funds. Commissioner Vincent-                                                                    
Lang responded  that he  thought the  department had  a good                                                                    
process in place to ensure funding  would not be lost in the                                                                    
future. He  recalled that millions  of dollars  had reverted                                                                    
in   previous  years.   He  indicated   that  part   of  the                                                                    
departments   strategy was  to pursue  grant proposals  from                                                                    
the public for improved hunter  access across the state. The                                                                    
grantees would  provide the matching  funds. The  option had                                                                    
helped  to spend  down some  of the  excess funds.  Co-Chair                                                                    
Johnston recognized the value of the fund.                                                                                      
1:59:08 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wool queried about  the 2 positions that were                                                                    
eliminated in the aquaculture  planning and permitting under                                                                    
Statewide  Fisheries  Management. Commissioner  Vincent-Lang                                                                    
responded  that the  person occupying  one of  the positions                                                                    
was  retiring. The  position  will not  be  filled, and  the                                                                    
responsibilities will  be reassigned within the  program. He                                                                    
was assured  by the  division that mariculture  planning and                                                                    
permitting will  not be impacted.  He viewed  mariculture as                                                                    
an additional  way to provide  economic opportunity  for the                                                                    
Representative  Wool  clarified   that  the  House  recently                                                                    
passed a mariculture bill that  supported and encouraged the                                                                    
industry. He  asked whether  the commissioner  was referring                                                                    
specifically   to    mariculture   and    not   aquaculture.                                                                    
Commissioner Vincent-Lang responded in the affirmative.                                                                         
2:00:35 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Knopp asked  about a  reduction of  $250,000                                                                    
for license  modernization. He asked  if the funding  had to                                                                    
do  with HB  260  (Fish &  Game  Licenses; Electronic  Form)                                                                    
{Chapter  54  SLA  18    07/13/2018]  that  was  adopted  in                                                                    
February 2018. Commissioner  Vincent-Lang explained that the                                                                    
reduction was money set aside  to maintain the program after                                                                    
it  was developed.  He  hoped that  the  amount to  maintain                                                                    
electronic  licensing would  not be  close to  $250,000. The                                                                    
development funding was still  available, and the department                                                                    
planned   to  move   forward   with  electronic   licensing.                                                                    
Representative Knopp expressed concern  that the project was                                                                    
not moving  along very far.  He recalled that the  intent of                                                                    
the  bill  was  to  create  an  electronic  display  and  he                                                                    
understood that the  design was going a lot  further. He was                                                                    
concerned with the  projects slow progress in  two years and                                                                    
wondered when  it would be completed.  Commissioner Vincent-                                                                    
Lang  indicated   that  within  the  year   phone  displayed                                                                    
licenses  should be  ready. The  new application  would also                                                                    
include harvest  reporting and  other items  associated with                                                                    
licensing. Representative Knopp reiterated his concern.                                                                         
2:03:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool relayed  that  when he  went  to get  a                                                                    
license  at a  retail  store, an  employee  had to  manually                                                                    
enter in  all the data,  which was time consuming.  He asked                                                                    
if   that  reflected   an  improvement   or   was  part   of                                                                    
modernization.  Commissioner   Vincent-Lang  suggested  that                                                                    
electronic licensing should  make it easier for  the user to                                                                    
apply online at home by  entering all the necessary data. He                                                                    
suggested  that  having  a   vendors   employee  enter  data                                                                    
remained  more efficient  that using  paper books  where the                                                                    
department  had to  transfer all  the  information into  the                                                                    
data base.                                                                                                                      
SAMANTHA  GATTON,  DEPUTY  OPERATIONS MANAGER,  DIVISION  OF                                                                    
ADMINISTRATIVE  SERVICES,  DEPARTMENT   OF  FISH  AND  GAME,                                                                    
interjected   that  for   the  prior   two  years   DFG  was                                                                    
transitioning to paperless  licensing. Currently, stores and                                                                    
entities  were  in  the  process  of  complying,  using  the                                                                    
departments  paperless  application   and  licensing  system                                                                    
called eVendor.  The department  was providing  training and                                                                    
was  no longer  sending paper  booklets to  license vendors.                                                                    
The licensee's drivers  license  was scanned, and the entire                                                                    
transaction  was done  electronically.  She  added that  the                                                                    
system realized a cost saving for the department.                                                                               
Representative  Wool  suggested  that  the  system  was  too                                                                    
cumbersome for an  eVendor and some vendors  might decide it                                                                    
was not  worth offering licenses.  He stated that  a license                                                                    
could not be  issued at home because a license  needed to be                                                                    
verified.  He thought  going into  the DFG  office might  be                                                                    
more  efficient but  not convenient.  He  asked whether  the                                                                    
department received  any  pushback  from retail  vendors who                                                                    
thought the process involved too much work.                                                                                     
2:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  Gatton  responded  that   the  retailers  and  entities                                                                    
 enjoyed the  process.  She indicated that  the vendors were                                                                    
compensated   and  received   $1   for  every   application.                                                                    
Eliminating the  paper saved the  vendors time as  well. She                                                                    
qualified that the system was still a work in progress.                                                                         
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang offered  that  a  person had  the                                                                    
option to go online to apply  for a license making it easier                                                                    
for  the  end  user.  Representative  Wool  appreciated  the                                                                    
2:07:57 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Josephson looked  at what  had been  removed                                                                    
from the operating budget by  the veto and restored from the                                                                    
prior  year.  He  noted  that   the  vetoes  maintained  the                                                                    
reduction  of  roughly  $1  million  from  the  Division  of                                                                    
Commercial   Fisheries  and   was  currently   proposing  an                                                                    
additional cut of about $1  million. He inquired whether the                                                                    
department  received  feedback  on the  prior  years   cuts.                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang answered  that he  had not  heard                                                                    
much feedback. He deduced that  since the vetoes occurred in                                                                    
August many  of the  reduced items were  already operational                                                                    
and  services were  continued. He  thought  that the  impact                                                                    
would be felt  in the current years   upcoming field season.                                                                    
He informed  the committee that  the department  had already                                                                    
discussed  partnership opportunities  with  the Bristol  Bay                                                                    
Science Partnership  to cover some  of the work  impacted by                                                                    
the reductions.  He endeavored to continue  mission critical                                                                    
work through partnerships,  other opportunities, and federal                                                                    
funding. Representative Josephson  wondered whether the full                                                                    
weight of  the cuts  would be felt  in the  upcoming fishing                                                                    
season.  He asked  whether  the  commissioner was  concerned                                                                    
over  the cuts.  Commissioner  Vincent-Lang  stated that  he                                                                    
could  manage the  departments   mission critical  functions                                                                    
and  constitutional and  statutory  duties  with the  budget                                                                    
that was passed.                                                                                                                
2:10:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz understood that  commercial fishing and DFG                                                                    
was down by  over 20 percent UGF since 2015.  He shared that                                                                    
at the  time he  became a legislator,  the department  had a                                                                    
stellar reputation  with Alaska  having world  class managed                                                                    
fisheries. He  stressed that the effort  took investment and                                                                    
believed that the reduction in  the investment over time had                                                                    
an impact on the ability for  DFG to maintain its status. He                                                                    
cited the  return on investment  by commercial  fisheries on                                                                    
slide  4 as  $5.6 billion.  He  surmised that  as the  state                                                                    
moved  forward  the  market for  Alaskas   seafood  products                                                                    
would increase  as the worlds   population grew.  He thought                                                                    
that  in order  to protect  Alaskas  current  economic value                                                                    
and    invest   in    the    growth    potential   it    was                                                                    
 counterproductive   to  continue  to  reduce  DFG  support.                                                                    
Commissioner  Vincent-Lang responded  that because  of tough                                                                    
financial times, the department has  had to tighten its belt                                                                    
in ways  that did  not impact  the core  of the  program. He                                                                    
believed that the core of  the program  remained strong  and                                                                    
was   convinced   the  department remained  a   world  class                                                                    
fisheries  organization   and  was  a model  to  others.  He                                                                    
acknowledged  that impacts  would be  felt but,  overall, he                                                                    
was confident  the department would  be able to  continue to                                                                    
fulfill  its   mission  and  provide   a   good   return  on                                                                    
2:13:33 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz  related concerns he discovered  during the                                                                    
prior  fishing  season.  He  indicated   that  there  was  a                                                                    
significant  overestimate  of  the  return  of  chum  salmon                                                                    
throughout the state,  which particularly impacted Southeast                                                                    
Alaska.  The overestimate  had a  significant impact  on the                                                                    
regions  gillnetters  and Seine fleet. He  continued that no                                                                    
one at DFG had been  able to explain the over-estimation. He                                                                    
suggested that an increase in  the budget might be warranted                                                                    
in  cases  where errors  in  estimates  or other  management                                                                    
decisions  occurred to  determine  the causes.  Commissioner                                                                    
Vincent-Lang   answered  that   it   was   clear  that   the                                                                    
overestimation  had to  do with  something interrupting  the                                                                    
fishery out  in the ocean.  He reported that  the department                                                                    
 reprioritized   a   fisheries  scientist  to   study  ocean                                                                    
survival   questions.   Currently,    the   department   was                                                                    
developing  a  plan to  better  understand  the problem.  He                                                                    
believed  that  the department  could  not  find the  answer                                                                    
alone and needed to engage  in partnerships and find federal                                                                    
or other dollars to find the answer.                                                                                            
2:16:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool asked  about the  department's hatchery                                                                    
investments. He  asked about  investment trends  and whether                                                                    
the  department   was  trying  to  supplement   the  lacking                                                                    
numbers   of  fish.   Commissioner   Vincent-Lang  asked   a                                                                    
clarifying  question.  He  inquired  whether  Representative                                                                    
Wool was  speaking to private    nonprofit hatcheries across                                                                    
the state or the  sportfish state hatcheries. Representative                                                                    
Wool responded  that he was  more interested in  the private                                                                    
hatcheries.  He   was  unfamiliar   with  how   the  private                                                                    
nonprofit  hatcheries  operated.  Commissioner  Vincent-Lang                                                                    
stated that the private  nonprofit hatcheries were producing                                                                    
significant amounts  of fish. One  question was  whether the                                                                    
pink  or  chum hatchery  fish  were  straying and  impacting                                                                    
Alaska's  wild  stocks.  He  mentioned  an  article  he  had                                                                    
written  about  6  months prior  discussing  his  cautionary                                                                    
approach  that  would not  permit  increased  pink and  chum                                                                    
salmon releases  until the wild stock  issue was understood.                                                                    
He  noted that  work  was  underway to  study  the issue  in                                                                    
cooperation  with  private industry  and  was  two or  three                                                                    
years into a five year  study. Hatchery production for sport                                                                    
and  commercial fisheries  was important  for  times of  low                                                                    
wild  stocks  but  he  cautioned  that  a  careful  measured                                                                    
approach to avoid impacts on wild stocks was warranted.                                                                         
Co-Chair  Foster  thanked  the commissioner  and  the  other                                                                    
HB  205  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HB  206  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
2:18:59 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
2:20:05 PM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Deptartment of Fish and Game FY21 Budget Overview 2.7.20.pdf HFIN 2/7/2020 1:30:00 PM
FY21 Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund Cap Request.pdf HFIN 2/7/2020 1:30:00 PM
ADFG Response HFIN Overview
ADF&G Response to HFIN Hearing 2.7.20.pdf HFIN 2/7/2020 1:30:00 PM