Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120
04/23/2019 10:00 AM FISHERIES
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HR 8-2019: INT'L YEAR OF THE SALMON 10:58:02 AM CHAIR STUTES announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 8, Recognizing 2019 as the International Year of the Salmon and supporting an associated global initiative identifying the importance of wild salmon. 10:58:03 AM THATCHER BROUWER, Staff, Representative Geran Tarr, Alaska State Legislature, introduced HR 8 on behalf of Representative Tarr, sponsor, and noted the sponsor has done collaborative work with other states on the resolution. He explained that HR 8 recognizes 2019 as the International Year of the Salmon (IYS) and supports an associated global initiative identifying the importance of wild salmon. It is a project launched by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO). MR. BROUWER said he first learned about the International Year of the Salmon at an event early this year in Juneau. Since then he has continued to hear about the research and outreach that is going on as part of this global initiative. One of the research projects that has grown from the International Year of the Salmon is the first of its kind scientific expedition in the Gulf of Alaska where 21 international scientists were on a 5- week trip and are now analyzing the data collected. Among the projects, scientists are using DNA to identify stock-specific rearing areas of all five species of salmon and determine their abundance and condition. Those who are collaborating on this research hope this project will occur annually going forward. Other projects associated with the initiative include, but are not limited to, dam removal in Maine and cleanup projects in Northern Ireland. MR. BROUWER related that the theme of International Year of the Salmon is salmon and people in a changing world. Passing HR 8 is one way the State of Alaska can recognize the importance of salmon to the state and around the world and encourage greater research of salmon and the factors that impact their survival. In recognition that salmon are a shared resource along the West Coast, HR 8 was introduced in conjunction with measures in Washington and Oregon. The committee will be hearing from the representatives in these states that the sponsor worked with. MR. BROUWER noted the health of salmon populations across the Northern Hemisphere varies, but even the strongest populations face threats from both humans and the changing environment. Scientists still have much to learn about salmon lifecycles, impacts of a warming climate, and increased development. All along the West Coast, strong subsistence, sport, and commercial fisheries are greatly important to the culture and the economy. Now, though, a number of those salmon runs are struggling, making it more important than ever to work collaboratively to do the research needed to ensure that salmon are here for generations to come. Up and down the West Coast and across the Northern Hemisphere salmon have sustained humans and been celebrated since the beginning of time. By passing HR 8, the legislature will acknowledge that 2019 is International Year of the Salmon and bring attention to the research and events in conjunction with this global initiative. CHAIR STUTES opened invited testimony. 11:01:17 AM TYSON FICK testified in support of HR 8. He stated he is currently a commercial fisherman, but has been a sport fisherman, sport fishing guide, and has lived on the Kuskokwim River and participated in subsistence fisheries. He said that, for him, salmon is life and every year is the International Year of the Salmon. The opportunity to celebrate something everyone agrees on is appreciated. The capitol is the place to argue about policies and how to address things, but hopefully HR 8 is an opportunity to bring together people who like salmon and science and who hope to learn from other places. Salmon is something that unites people more than divides them and Alaskans like to eat and look at them. Salmon have been lost all over the world and are mostly gone from Europe and from the East Coast of the U.S. When there is talk about bringing back salmon it is about tens of fish, not the tens or hundreds of millions like are seen in Alaska. There is a real opportunity in Alaska to celebrate that and to continue Alaska's leadership on fisheries management. The ideal of sustainable management was put into the state constitution in 1959. Now, Alaska is at an important time in talking about how to handle the other uses that are had in the state. By following Alaska's lead, the overfishing issue in the U.S. was largely solved. He urged committee members to support HR 8. REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS inquired about Mr. Fick's present affiliation. MR. FICK replied he is skipper of the F/V Heather Anne and owner of Taku River Reds. 11:05:16 AM ERIN HARRINGTON, Executive Director, The Salmon Project, testified in support of HR 8. She noted she is a member of a Bristol Bay salmon fishing household. She has some perspective from having already done some work with Mark Saunders who oversees the International Year of the Salmon. For a couple of years, she has been part of a larger collective called Salmon Connect that has been working to have conversations about salmon and the ways that it connects with people's lives in the state. Some of her colleagues from Salmon Connect have already had the opportunity to travel to Oregon and Washington to learn about some of the things that have happened in those states and the loss that they've experienced. Her Alaska colleagues found their trip to the Lower 48 extremely instructive, which speaks to the value of this kind of cross-jurisdictional communication, collaboration, and learning from one another. Alaska is fortunate to have people who are still extremely connected to salmon, it is not just as a token thing. People in Seattle love salmon, but they love it as a memory. In Alaska salmon are still part of people's daily, annual, and seasonal lives. She and her colleagues can show their international and cross- jurisdictional partners what it is like to have lives that are still truly connected to salmon. MS. HARRINGTON related that The Salmon Project has done a significant amount of statewide research and found that three out of four Alaskans consider themselves to be personally connected to salmon; nine out of ten Alaskans use salmon as an important Alaskan value. This crosses political stripe, socioeconomics, and region, and is something that is shared by most Alaskans regardless of politics. The Salmon Project has come to believe that this is foundational in Alaska and it isn't just about this resource, but is a medium through which people talk about the values that they have for their families and the aspirations they have for their children and the way they want to live on the landscape as Alaskans. So, she cannot speak strongly enough to the import of maintaining a robust salmon connected way of life in Alaska and HR 8 is something that can further Alaskans' adventure on that path. REPRESENTATIVE TARR remarked that the phrase "salmon connected way of life" should be used more. 11:08:22 AM JILL WEITZ, Campaign Director, Salmon Beyond Borders Campaign, testified in support of HR 8. She said that today she is providing the committee with her subjective perspective, one that is rooted in her constant learning of how salmon connect people. On a global scale, but primarily here in Southeast Alaska, salmon connect people to the ancient Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. She supports the global initiative to build resilience for salmon and people and celebrate with the committee the International Year of the Salmon. MS. WEITZ said the effort to defend and sustain the salmon of the transboundary Taku, Stikine, and Unuk rivers has united nearly every sector of Southeast Alaska. The Salmon Beyond Borders Campaign partners with local Alaska businesses, each commercial fishing gear group, sport fishermen, tour operators, and lawmakers. It works in close coordination with tribes and First Nations in British Columbia. These three rivers originate in Northwest British Columbia and flow into Southeast Alaska. They have served as centers of culture for centuries and as the lifeblood of the largest salmon producing rivers in this region, including producing 80 percent of [the region's] king salmon. MS. WEITZ stated she will show the committee a video titled "Salmon Is Life." The video is a product of a Salmon Beyond Borders tour through Northwest British Columbia during the harvest season of 2018. The takeaways are that each community is different, each tradition is different, but everyone has a salmon story, and everyone's auntie is the best at smoking salmon. The video was first shown at the IYS launch event in Vancouver in 2018, which was attended by 150 representatives of the salmon community in the Pacific and Atlantic basins. Indigenous and non-indigenous leaders from the U.S., Canada, Russia, Korea, and Japan demonstrated support for IYS. 11:11:17 AM REPRESENTATIVE DEBRA LEKANOFF, House District 40, Washington State Legislature, stated she is honored to serve the State of Washington and to provide Washington's voice in protecting and restoring the salmon in partnership with Alaska and Oregon to ensure there are salmon for today and generations to come. MS. LEKANOFF shared that she is a Tlingit from Yakutat, Alaska, who has lived in Washington state for 20 years. She has returned to Yakutat to provide economic development and governmental training to her community. As a Native American woman, she always gives back to the future, to the leaders of tomorrow, and to the past who built the road for today. She is of the Raven moiety, of the Dog Salmon and the Owl Clan. Her Tlingit name means meeting of the springtime frogs and a time of change. Her house and name reflect her values and the laws that she lives by. They guide her decision making as a mother and as a lawmaker. If the salmon are gone, not only does she face losing the very spirit that guides her, but lawmakers face the impact to their rural workforces, economies, and quality of life as people know it in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. REPRESENTATIVE LEKANOFF said it is a great accomplishment to stand together to celebrate the International Year of the Salmon and work in collaboration on salmon research and outreach around the theme of salmon and people in the changing world. People in Washington state applaud the partnership between the three states, the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization. REPRESENTATIVE LEKANOFF related that Washington state faces the reality that its waters, habitats, and resources have been deeply impacted. Fewer is the people's truth in Washington state. Only one river in the Lower 48 - the Skagit - produces all six species of wild salmon. It is time to stand together to support the common science, policies, and laws to address the restoration and protection of salmon. Long before Washington was the apple state it was known as the salmon state. Washington is honored and pleased to stand with Alaska and Oregon in sustaining one of the most honored resources to all our economies, cultures, and quality of life. REPRESENTATIVE TARR thanked Representative Lekanoff for the collaboration between their offices and said she looks forward to continuing to work together. CHAIR STUTES stated that she is honored to be the representative for Yakutat. 11:15:54 AM MS. WEITZ showed the "Salmon Is Life" video to the committee. After the video she pointed out that the remark, "salmon is life," was made by each of the people interviewed for the video and that the remark was unprompted. She expressed her honor to work with people throughout the region on the international issue of salmon, which requires collaboration. Salmon are a symbol of resilience, a symbol of complete function, and a symbol of Alaska. She said her organization supports HR 8 and the efforts to better establish salmon management and policies in Alaska and throughout the British Columbia region that are rooted in sound science and information. 11:18:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE KEN HELM, House District 34, Oregon State Legislature, testified in support of HR 8. He said he is happy to be working with Representatives Tarr and Lekanoff in a multi- state effort to raise the awareness about wild salmon. He related that Oregon has a similar resolution before its chambers, HCR 35, and 41 of his House and Senate colleagues have already signed on to the resolution. There is much enthusiasm in Oregon for giving more attention to the state's wild salmon stocks, the rivers they live in, and the habitat that those rivers flow through. MR. HELM noted that Alaska, Washington, and Oregon have a great history and heritage of both commercial salmon harvest, tribal harvest, and sport fishing. He said Oregon faces the same challenges that Alaska and Washington face in that over time Oregon's wild salmon stocks have gone into decline and continue to do so despite Oregon's best efforts. However, a couple of river systems are bright spots in that they have been left alone for long enough to allow wild salmon to regenerate themselves. He said he applauds the efforts of the advocates of these resolutions in all three states, is proud to be part of that, and looks forward to continued collaboration around the protection and promotion of wild salmon. REPRESENTATIVE TARR thanked Representative Helm for the collaboration. She pointed out that political boundaries don't mean much to wild salmon and it is becoming increasingly important to be collaborating. 11:22:42 AM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN noted the resolution doesn't mention areas of salmon that are stressed. He pointed out that in Alaska, eight of the twelve stocks of concern are in the Susitna-Yentna drainage. Lodges up and down those rivers that catered to sport fishermen are now gone because the fish are gone. The fish are gone because these areas are stressed. He suggested language be put into the resolution that identifies the stocks and areas of concern. He further noted the resolution talks about Alaska Natives, but his family depends on salmon. MS. WEITZ agreed and said the resolution is an opportunity to home in on those priority areas throughout Alaska that are productive, that once were productive, and that productivity is wanted to remain. She expressed her willingness to work with Representative Tarr, sponsor of HR 8, to address Representative Neuman's concerns and incorporate them into the resolution language. 11:25:09 AM MARK SAUNDERS, IYS Director-North Pacific Region, International Year of the Salmon, North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, testified in support of HR 8. He stated that the commission has been around for 26 years and was established by treaty between Canada, the U.S., Japan, Korea, and Russia. It was initially started to enforce stoppage of the high seas' driftnet fishery. It has a larger mandate around conservation of salmon in the high seas and conservation in the adjacent waters. He has been to Anchorage where he met with the Salmon Connect group. He noted that there are representatives in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) who work closely with the commission on salmon science and the International Year of the Salmon in general. MR. SAUNDERS related that as salmon are being lost Alaska is a stronghold in wanting to sustain them. Alaska is not alone in dealing with big changes and the surprises being seen in the declines of chinook salmon and pinks. From his travels around the globe in the Northern Hemisphere he has found that conversations are unique to each area, but many of the issues being dealt with are the same. The decline that started in the marine systems in the early 1990s also started to happen at the same time in the Atlantic. It is not a coincidence that it started to happen in the early 1990s and despite that big signal, scientists are still not working together in a way that they can start to understand that and put the clues together. MR. SAUNDERS explained that while this is the focal year for the International Year of the Salmon, the initiative itself will go on through 2022. The idea is that by 2022 the connections will have been made and a shared ability within science, social, and regulatory bodies will have been built to learn from each other. Things are being done in Alaska that the rest of the hemisphere needs to understand. Alaska needs to be working with the organizations that are working on the bigger problems of the impact of climate on fresh water and coastal and high seas. Right across those life histories [IYS] is working on projects to link people. Alaska has a lot to learn from other parts of the world, but also has a big story to tell. He looks forward to Alaskans engaging and continuing to engage in the initiative. MR. SAUNDERS noted the initiative is also in the middle of raising money from governments and private foundations in the order of tens of millions to facilitate this work that is being taken on across the hemisphere. He looks forward to working with Representative Tarr and organizations like Salmon Beyond Borders. He offered his support for HR 8 and thanked the committee for its work for the betterment of salmon and people. REPRESENTATIVE TARR said she is excited to hear about the collaboration and that it will be ongoing for a few more years. She noted that things are being learned about migration patterns in the ocean and that management regimes need to be thought about. She looks forward to the work that Mr. Saunders is doing and urged that relationships be strengthened in working on protecting wild salmon populations. 11:31:20 AM DOUG MECUM, Deputy Regional Administrator, Alaska Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce, testified in support of HR 8. He stated that HR 8 recognizes 2019 as the International Year of the Salmon (IYS) and supports the associated global research and outreach initiative. He said NOAA Fisheries supports and is participating in the coordinated development of the IYS initiative sponsored by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO). The Alaska salmon fishery plays an integral role in the world's salmon production and the Alaska salmon fishery, capably managed by ADF&G, is the most valuable commercial fishery in the U.S. Sustaining Alaska's wild salmon populations is essential in preserving salmon cultures that have existed for thousands of years. MR. MECUM noted that the overall theme of the IYS is salmon and people in a changing world. He explained that the extraordinary life histories of salmon expose them to many environmental and anthropogenic factors influencing their health and abundance. The IYS seeks to raise awareness of what humans can do to better ensure salmon and their varied habitats are conserved and restored. The IYS envisions an expansion of salmon research efforts on the high seas and nearshore waters as well as a full year of education, outreach, and public engagement. The IYS provides a platform for advancing an understanding of salmon species, as well as promoting conservation, restoration, community support, and ocean literacy. Additionally, the IYS provides NOAA an opportunity to highlight its programs. MR. MECUM concluded by pointing out that salmon affect more people culturally, economically, and recreationally than any other fish species. Understanding how a change in climate may influence their ocean and freshwater habitats, distributions, and productivity is an increasingly important concern to management agencies, the fishing industry, tribes, recreational users, and the general public. He said NOAA Fisheries appreciates the committee's support of HR 8 and the increased awareness, support, and engagement that it will provide. 11:34:26 AM REPRESENTATIVE TARR thanked Mr. Mecum for his testimony and his extensive knowledge from his work at ADF&G and NOAA. She said she would like to learn about the barriers to multi-state and international collaboration as it relates to research projects and what could be done at the State of Alaska level to help better integrate some of those efforts. MR. MECUM responded that the resolution is helpful, and he is thankful for the resolution because it is a way to convince others to support the development of this. He pointed out that it is not all rainbows and unicorns when talking about funding initiatives like this and international collaboration is very difficult because it requires diplomacy and sustained effort. 11:36:07 AM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN observed that the Endangered Species Act is mentioned in the resolution on page 2, lines 27-28. He said he has talked to many people in Alaska who believe that the Marine Mammal Protection Act has had a devastating effect on management of Alaska's salmon and that it should be changed to the Marine Mammal Management Act to manage damage from all the predators of salmon that are protected under that act. He asked whether Mr. Mecum thinks that should be one of the clauses in the resolution and part of the discussion. MR. MECUM replied that it is the legislature's decision. He said NOAA administers the Marine Mammal Protection Act. One of the great success stories was getting the eastern population of Steller sea lions off the endangered species list, and he was a part of that effort. This has allowed for some of the legal removals of sea lions in the Columbia and other places with endangered species. Fortunately, Alaska doesn't have any listed species of salmon because Alaska has taken care of business by protecting the habitat, having a good strong management system, and public involvement in that process. Alaska is a model for the world. In places like [the Columbia], habitat loss has led to some real problems and predation by marine mammals is an issue. He said NOAA administers that according to the law and if people think portions of the law should be changed, they can pursue those changes legislatively. 11:38:48 AM CHRIS SERGEANT, Research Scientist, Flathead Lake Bio Station, University of Montana, testified in support of HR 8. He noted that while he is with the University of Montana, he is based permanently in Juneau. He conveyed his support for International Year of the Salmon and continued scientific research on this iconic group of fish. He said his work focuses on three salmon rich transboundary rivers shared between Alaska and British Columbia - the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk. His interest is studying how the actions of humans modify freshwater habitat for salmon and affect their survival. MR. SERGEANT noted he grew up on the shores of Puget Sound and studied salmon in that region during the first half of his fisheries career. He watched in real time as Puget Sound and Columbia River populations dwindled, but he was heartened to see his friends and colleagues in urban Washington state recognize the value of salmon recovery. He feels lucky to have worked in Alaska for the past eight years and see so many thriving salmon populations. However, some populations are showing signs of decline, so continued research toward better understanding what sustains productive freshwater ecosystems is vital to ensuring that Alaska's communities can continue to pursue a lifestyle fueled in large part by salmon. Alaskans are faced with an unprecedented opportunity to preserve the state's sustainable fisheries using science-based management. MR. SERGEANT allowed that the march toward understanding salmon may feel like a slow plod, but said the journey is worthy of continued pursuit. He said Isaac Walton's book, The Complete Angler, published in 1653, might be considered the first salmon experiment described in writing. It describes how Atlantic salmon were marked with sewing thread as juvenile fish and then observed returning to the same river as spawning adults, demonstrating the ability of salmon to accurately navigate back to their place of birth. Over 300 years later in his influential book on Pacific salmon, University of Washington professor Tom Quinn, describes a group of sockeye salmon caught in a single purse seine set in the Gulf of Alaska where all the fish were tagged and released back to the ocean. These individual salmon, sharing space in one tiny speck of the ocean, eventually swam in wildly divergent directions across their range - some returning to rivers in British Columbia like the Skeena and the Nass, and some returning to Alaska watersheds in places like Kodiak Island or Bristol Bay. After almost four centuries, however, scientists still cannot definitively say how salmon return to their home waters from a sprawling open ocean and [scientists] are still not great at predicting when salmon runs will be strong or weak each year. But one thing that can be said with certainty - if enough salmon are left alone in the water to return to clean rivers with abundant spawning grounds, they will thrive for generations to come. MR. SERGEANT said the diversity of salmon caught from that purse seine set in the Gulf of Alaska holds some nice symbolism for the International Year of the Salmon: it takes a special kind of animal to continue holding the rapt attention of humans for so many years. He said the committee's support of HR 8 matters because it shows that Alaskans support science and wild salmon. REPRESENTATIVE TARR thanked Mr. Sergeant for his testimony. CHAIR STUTES inquired about Mr. Sergeant working for the University of Montana but being stationed in Juneau. MR. SERGEANT replied he is stationed in Juneau and specifically is focused on Alaska/British Columbia transboundary watersheds. 11:42:41 AM The committee took a brief at-ease. 11:45:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN moved to report [HR] 8 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, HR 8 was reported from the House Special Committee on Fisheries.