Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

04/01/2021 10:00 AM FISHERIES

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Audio Topic
10:05:31 AM Start
10:07:26 AM HB64
11:13:48 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 107 MILITARY & VETERANS: FISH & GAME LICENSES TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
*+ HB 64 FISHERY DEVELOPMENT ASSOC.; ASSESSMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 54 INVASIVE SPECIES MANAGEMENT TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         April 1, 2021                                                                                          
                           10:05 a.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Geran Tarr, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative Kevin McCabe                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Vice Chair                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 64                                                                                                               
"An Act  relating to  regional fishery  development associations;                                                               
and relating to developing fishery management assessments."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 107                                                                                                              
"An Act  providing for  free hunting  and sport  fishing licenses                                                               
for veterans and active duty  members of the military service and                                                               
United States Coast Guard who  reside in the state; and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 54                                                                                                               
"An Act establishing  the Alaska Invasive Species  Council in the                                                               
Department of Fish  and Game; relating to  management of invasive                                                               
species;  relating to  invasive  species  management decals;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  64                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: FISHERY DEVELOPMENT ASSOC.; ASSESSMENTS                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) STUTES                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/15/21                                                                               
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       FSH, FIN                                                                                               
04/01/21       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SARA PERMAN, Staff                                                                                                              
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HB 64 on behalf of                                                                            
Representative Stutes, prime sponsor.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE REYNOLDS, Deputy Director                                                                                                
Tax Division                                                                                                                    
Department of Revenue (DOR)                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing on HB 64, answered                                                                    
questions related to the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
FORREST BOWERS, Deputy Director                                                                                                 
Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing on HB 64, answered                                                                    
questions related to the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PHIL DOHERTY, Executive Director                                                                                                
Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association (SARDFA)                                                                   
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing on HB 64, answered                                                                    
questions related to the bill and explained that SARDFA is set                                                                  
up much like the provisions in the bill.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MAKENA O'TOOLE, Shellfish Division Chair                                                                                        
Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU)                                                                                        
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 64.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHELSEA HAISMAN, Executive Director                                                                                             
Cordova District Fisherman United (CDFU)                                                                                        
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 64.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:05:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GERAN TARR called the  House Special Committee on Fisheries                                                             
meeting to  order at 10:05  a.m.  Representatives  McCabe, Vance,                                                               
Story,  Kreiss-Tomkins, and  Tarr  were present  at  the call  to                                                               
order.  Representative Ortiz (via  teleconference) arrived as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.  Representative Cronk was also present.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
         HB 64-FISHERY DEVELOPMENT ASSOC.; ASSESSMENTS                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:07:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR  announced that  the only order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  64,  "An   Act  relating  to  regional  fishery                                                               
development  associations;  and  relating to  developing  fishery                                                               
management assessments."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:08:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SARA PERMAN,  Staff, Representative  Louise Stutes,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  introduced  HB  64   on  behalf  of  Representative                                                               
Stutes,  prime sponsor.   She  explained that  HB 64  establishes                                                               
regional  fishery development  associations  and  allows for  the                                                               
associated developing fishery management  assessments in order to                                                               
support the growth of new  and developing fisheries.  She defined                                                               
"new  fishery" as  "a prospective  fishery within  a geographical                                                               
region  that  is  not  currently   regulated  by  the  Commercial                                                               
Fisheries  [Entry]   Commission  (CFEC)."    The   definition  of                                                               
"developing  fishery" is  "a fishery  within a  geographic region                                                               
where  either  the  optimum  yield  has  not  been  reached,  the                                                               
sustained  yield  has  not yet  been  estimated,  the  commercial                                                               
harvest  has only  recently developed,  or stock  assessments are                                                               
not conducted."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN stated  that  years of  declining  state revenue  and                                                               
reduced  state budgets  have lessened  the  Alaska Department  of                                                               
Fish  and   Game's  (ADF&G's)   ability  to   manage  established                                                               
fisheries and,  even less so,  new or developing fisheries.   She                                                               
explained that  to adequately manage the  state's fisheries ADF&G                                                               
usually  has  to  do  surveys  and  assessments  of  the  fishery                                                               
resources so  it can identify  the biomass, the  sustained yield,                                                               
and so forth.  In the  case of these new and developing fisheries                                                               
the funding isn't there to do these assessments and studies.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  related that  a constituent  in Prince  William Sound                                                               
who has  been working with tanner  crab brought this bill  to the                                                               
attention  of Representative  Stutes.   Tanner  crab  used to  be                                                               
fished 30-plus years ago, but  the fishery closed, she continued.                                                               
The biomass is known to still be  there as it comes up as bycatch                                                               
at times.  Getting back a  fishery has been pushed for years, but                                                               
the  funding  hasn't  been  there  from  ADF&G  to  research  the                                                               
biomass.  Currently  for the first time, [the  constituent] has a                                                               
"Commissioner's  Permit,"  which  is  a  limited,  non-permanent,                                                               
essentially   a  developing   fishery,   permit.     While   [the                                                               
constituent] can fish  in that area ADF&G still  doesn't have the                                                               
funding to conduct  biomass surveys to make  an established long-                                                               
term permanent  fishery.   The idea  for this  bill came  up from                                                               
working with the constituent and ADF&G.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:11:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN said HB 64 creates  a mechanism to fund the management                                                               
of new and  developing fisheries.  It allows for  the creation of                                                               
regional  fishery development  associations, which  are nonprofit                                                               
organizations  that represent  the fishery  stakeholders.   These                                                               
development  associations  may elect  to  levy  on themselves  an                                                               
assessment  that would  then fund  ADF&G studies.   These  taxes,                                                               
called  management  assessments,  are collected  on  the  fishery                                                               
resource itself at the time of  sale.  The buyer collects the tax                                                               
and remits that tax quarterly to  the Department of Revenue.  The                                                               
funds sit  in the state  treasury until appropriated back  to the                                                               
associations that  then work  in tandem with  ADF&G to  create an                                                               
annual operating plan consisting  of things like stock assessment                                                               
surveys and payment to ADF&G for conducting those surveys.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  noted that this  isn't the  first time the  state has                                                               
seen  this.   Currently there  are dive  fishery associations  in                                                               
statute.   The  Southeast Alaska  Regional Dive  Fish Association                                                               
(SARDFA)  has been  using this  model  since 1998  to manage  its                                                               
geoduck, sea urchin,  and sea cucumber fisheries.   This bill was                                                               
developed using those statutes, AS 43.76.150-210.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  summarized by  reiterating that HB  64 gives  new and                                                               
developing  fisheries the  mechanisms  with which  they may  fund                                                               
themselves and  support their own  annual operations in  order to                                                               
become established fisheries.  These  are known fishery resources                                                               
and each of  these fisheries is potential revenue  for the state.                                                               
As the State  of Alaska continue to see reduced  returns in other                                                               
industries,  it   makes  sense   to  develop  and   expand  these                                                               
fisheries, which are revenue and job increasing.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:13:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  provided a  sectional analysis  of HB  64.   She said                                                               
Section  1 provides  that the  ADF&G commissioner  will encourage                                                               
the  development  of  regional fishery  development  associations                                                               
(RFDAs).   These associations must  be nonprofit,  must represent                                                               
the  commercial  fishermen  who  harvest  the  resource  in  that                                                               
fishery,   and  must   have  a   board  of   directors  that   is                                                               
representative  of   the  fishermen,  the  processors,   and  the                                                               
municipality  in which  the landing  for these  fisheries occurs.                                                               
Section  1 also  provides the  definitions of  "new fishery"  and                                                               
"developing fishery."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN  explained that  Section  2  adds developing  fishery                                                               
management assessment  receipts to  the program  receipts allowed                                                               
to be received by the State of  Alaska.  These receipts do not go                                                               
into the general fund.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  said Section 3 adds  new sections to the  fishery tax                                                               
and assessments statutes  as follows:  Sec.  43.76.281 allows for                                                               
management assessments to be levied.   A tax rate can be anywhere                                                               
between  2.5 percent  and 30  percent, and  is determined  by the                                                               
RFDA in an election.   Sec. 43.76.283 establishes the criteria of                                                               
that election to approve, amend,  or terminate these assessments.                                                               
The election  can only  be held if  the commissioner  approves of                                                               
the  notice  of   the  election,  the  ballot,   and  the  voting                                                               
procedures.   Proper  notice includes  30-day  notice before  the                                                               
ballots  go out  and two  ballots must  be sent  out.   After the                                                               
election is  done the ballots must  be counted by an  auditor and                                                               
approved by the commissioner.   [Sections 43.76.285 and 43.76.287                                                               
establish that]  to amend or terminate  a pre-existing assessment                                                               
the RFDA must submit a  petition to the ADF&G commissioner signed                                                               
by at least  75 percent of the board of  directors in addition to                                                               
holding an  election in  which a majority  of voters  approve the                                                               
amendment  or  termination.     Sec.  43.76.289  establishes  the                                                               
methodology for collecting the management  assessment.  The buyer                                                               
collects the  management assessment  at time  of sale  and remits                                                               
that quarterly  to the Department  of Revenue.  If,  for example,                                                               
there is a direct-to-market fisheries  business, that business is                                                               
responsible for  paying the  assessment directly.   All  of those                                                               
funds are  deposited into the  state treasury  and appropriations                                                               
will not be  from the unrestricted general fund.   Sec. 43.76.291                                                               
establishes  the   methodology  for  funding  the   RFDAs.    The                                                               
legislature may  make appropriations from [the  revenue collected                                                               
from] the management assessments.   The appropriated funds are to                                                               
be  spent in  accordance with  an operations  plan that  the RFDA                                                               
creates in conjunction  with ADF&G and, at  times, the Department                                                               
of Environmental  Conservation.  That annual  operating plan must                                                               
specify the activities that will  be conducted by the RFDA within                                                               
the year.   The  RFDA must submit  an annual,  year-end financial                                                               
report to ADF&G.  Sec. 43.79.299 establishes the definitions.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:17:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  asked whether these aren't  already in the                                                               
private sector.   For  example, he said,  there is  the Southeast                                                               
Regional Aquaculture  Association, Prince William  Sound Regional                                                               
Aquaculture   Association,   and  Kodiak   Regional   Aquaculture                                                               
Association.   He asked  whether this  is something  different or                                                               
whether  it   is  putting  the  aquaculture   associations  under                                                               
statute.     He  further   asked  how   it  would   affect  those                                                               
associations and the hatcheries they already run.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN replied  that the  key differential  here is  that by                                                               
acknowledging these  associations in  statutes, they are  able to                                                               
collect a  tax that goes to  the state to pay  for the management                                                               
of  the fisheries,  specifically  the management  done by  ADF&G.                                                               
Rather than pulling  from the department's budget it  is paid for                                                               
by the private industry as long as industry elects to do so.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE inquired about  the committee having one of                                                               
the  active aquaculture  associations provide  invited testimony.                                                               
He  stated  that trying  to  put  something  in statute  that  is                                                               
working well in the private sector would be a mistake.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:19:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS responded  that it  is apples  and                                                               
oranges  between regional  aquaculture associations  and regional                                                               
fisheries  development  associations.   It's  a  similar kind  of                                                               
mechanism that exists for  the regional aquaculture associations,                                                               
he explained, but is being  applied to new and emerging fisheries                                                               
that  don't yet  exist.   It  has nothing  to do  with salmon  or                                                               
salmon enhancement.   So, shellfish in  Southeast Alaska; pollock                                                               
in Southeast Alaska,  which is a fishery that  doesn't yet exist;                                                               
tanner crab in Prince William Sound.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:20:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE inquired  about  the  number of  different                                                               
associations  that the  state is  then  going to  manage in  each                                                               
region.  He  asked why the current  private associations couldn't                                                               
be encouraged to step  up by throwing a bit of  money at them and                                                               
have  them handle  the emerging  fisheries in  that region.   For                                                               
example, Kodiak  is focused on  salmon but  why not have  them do                                                               
something  a  little  bit  bigger.    He  said  it  seems  to  be                                                               
reinventing the  wheel and putting  it into statute and  he isn't                                                               
sure he likes that.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS  responded   that  the   regional                                                               
aquaculture  associations   could  be  asked  whether   they  are                                                               
interested, but  said he  is fairly certain  they would  say they                                                               
have  no  interest in  managing  non-salmon  fisheries like,  for                                                               
example, tanner  crab or  pollock in Southeast  Alaska.   He said                                                               
the  bill  would  be  creating and  replicating  what  worked  so                                                               
successfully   with   the   Southeast   Alaska   Dive   Fisheries                                                               
Association (SARDFA).   Fishermen would  say there's a  new stock                                                               
and biomass that  they think is a prosecutable  fishery, and that                                                               
they're willing to  tax themselves to pay for  the management and                                                               
the science of it.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN stated  that she  couldn't speak  to how  many groups                                                               
would be  interested in it, but  that it's not the  intent of the                                                               
sponsor to  limit those groups out  of this.  She  explained that                                                               
SARDFA  has  multiple subcommittees  within  it  that manage  its                                                               
different fisheries.  So, she said,  it could be that one general                                                               
association  manages Prince  William  Sound, and  under that  one                                                               
association  there could  be  different  committees that  manage,                                                               
say, octopus, sea urchins, tanner crab, and so forth.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TARR  suggested  that   perhaps  the  witnesses  providing                                                               
invited testimony could speak to this.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:22:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE drew  attention to page 2  of the Department                                                               
of Revenue  (DOR) fiscal note  for HB  64, which states  that the                                                               
bill  "would add  a sixth  program  to the  Alaska Department  of                                                               
Revenue,   Tax   Division's   (Department)  roster   of   seafood                                                               
assessment  and tax  programs,  to be  managed  similarly to  the                                                               
other five  programs."  She  recalled Ms. Perman  mentioning that                                                               
HB 64  is out  of the  need to look  at tanner  crab.   She asked                                                               
whether there  are other potential  fisheries besides  the tanner                                                               
crab that people have shown an interest in.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN answered  yes;  there is  the  possibility of  Prince                                                               
William  Sound   sea  urchins,  octopus,  and   skate,  based  on                                                               
conversations  with the  sponsor's  constituents.   She said  she                                                               
couldn't speak  for other regions,  but wouldn't be  surprised to                                                               
learn that there are others as well.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   VANCE  offered   her  understanding   that  this                                                               
mechanism is  currently only  available to  dive fisheries.   She                                                               
inquired  whether in  creating  this sixth  program  HB 64  would                                                               
provide the mechanism for different  fisheries like the crab, sea                                                               
urchins, and skate, or whether it would be one per fishery.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  replied that when created  in the 1990s for  the dive                                                               
fishery, it was  a very limited group and only  applied to people                                                               
doing diving,  but they could  do geoducks, sea urchins,  sea and                                                               
cucumbers all under  that one type   the  dive fishery management                                                               
associations.   She explained that  HB 64  would open it  up, but                                                               
wouldn't create several  different groups.  It  would just expand                                                               
the  same capacities  to  essentially  the commercial  fishermen.                                                               
She said  she thinks  that when the  Department of  Revenue talks                                                               
about six types,  it is not referring to  dive fishery management                                                               
versus commercial  developing fishery  management, but  rather is                                                               
referring to  the landing tax,  the business tax.   She suggested                                                               
that DOR could speak to this.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR asked whether Representative  Vance would like to have                                                               
DOR speak to her question.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE agreed and stated  she would like to have an                                                               
overarching understanding of the changes of this.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:25:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE  REYNOLDS, Deputy  Director, Tax  Division, Department  of                                                               
Revenue (DOR),  responded that the  reference in the  fiscal note                                                               
was  to  DOR's  administration  of  several  different  fisheries                                                               
related taxes and assessments:  fisheries business tax, fisheries                                                               
resource  landing  tax,   seafood  marketing  assessment,  salmon                                                               
enhancement  tax,  seafood  development  tax,  and  dive  fishery                                                               
management tax.   She noted she  might have missed naming  one of                                                               
the taxes.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:26:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE drew  attention to  the questions  asked by                                                               
the Southeast Alaska Fishermen's  Alliance (SEAFA) in its 3/31/21                                                               
letter to the  committee.  She said these  questions are relevant                                                               
to  ensuring that  everyone understands  the [proposed]  process.                                                               
She cited  the second  bullet point in  the letter,  which states                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Generally,  ADF&G will  not open  a  new fishery  until                                                                    
     some  science  regarding  the  fishery  resource  being                                                                    
     developed is conducted.   Under this legislation, there                                                                    
     wouldn't be funds for the  science until the fishery is                                                                    
     operated  and  an assessment  is  being  collected.   A                                                                    
     typical which comes first the  chicken or egg scenario.                                                                    
     For fisheries  resources, the  science always  needs to                                                                    
     come first.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE interpreted  the aforementioned  as asking,                                                               
"How  do you  foresee that  mechanism  taking place  so that  the                                                               
fishery, say  for instance  the tanner  crabs, can  get started?"                                                               
She then drew attention to the  third bullet in the letter, which                                                               
she  summarized  as  asking,  "How   do  you  determine  who  the                                                               
participants in the  fishery are to conduct the  election for the                                                               
assessments when there's no fishery yet?"                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE stated  that  the committee  must work  out                                                               
these questions.  She requested  Ms. Perman's thoughts on this so                                                               
as to be able to answer the public's questions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN addressed  the first  question  relating to  "chicken                                                               
before the  egg."   She stated  she spoke  about this  with ADF&G                                                               
yesterday, and confirmed it is  mostly the case that science from                                                               
the state comes  before opening the fishery.   However, she said,                                                               
there are times where it was  a previous fishery that was already                                                               
open, data  has existed, now it's  closed, and the request  is to                                                               
reopen  it with  the data  that already  exists.   Another option                                                               
that would be allowed is [for  ADF&G] to look at federal data and                                                               
be able  to say the  resource is known  to be there,  the biomass                                                               
exists, and given that evidence  [ADF&G] could potentially open a                                                               
fishery now  without doing further  studies.  Ms.  Perman advised                                                               
that this has been talked  about within the sponsor's office, and                                                               
the sponsor  is amenable to  changing it so it's  not necessarily                                                               
new  fisheries  that  don't  exist   yet,  but  rather  currently                                                               
existing developing  fisheries so as  to not  be trying to  get a                                                               
group  going that  doesn't have  any funding  to do  studies that                                                               
don't exist yet.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN  addressed  Representative Vance's  second  question.                                                               
She related that she chatted  with the Commercial Fisheries Entry                                                               
Commission (CFEC)  and ADF&G and  neither flagged this as  a real                                                               
issue.   Given that this  is complex, she suggested  that Forrest                                                               
Bowers be able to speak to the question.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:29:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  requested Mr.  Bowers  to  respond to  the                                                               
question posed by  SEAFA about how to  determine who participates                                                               
in the  fishery, since it's  a developing fishery, to  conduct an                                                               
election for the assessment when it is not developed yet.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:30:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
FORREST   BOWERS,  Deputy   Director,   Division  of   Commercial                                                               
Fisheries, Alaska Department of  Fish and Game (ADF&G), responded                                                               
first to  the question regarding  what comes first    the science                                                               
or the  fishery.  He  explained ADF&G uses multiple  data sources                                                               
when  it  considers opening  a  fishery,  one source  being  past                                                               
fishery  data.   The  department  can  look  at catch  rates  and                                                               
fishery performance if a fishery has  been open in the past, then                                                               
that  is  compared  to  current   catch  rates.    This  provides                                                               
information on  relative abundance and  how the fishery  is doing                                                               
now compared to last year or several  years in the past.  He said                                                               
another data source  ADF&G can use is to look  at other fisheries                                                               
for the same  species in other parts of the  world.  For example,                                                               
ADF&G  recently  developed  a fishery  in  Southeast  Alaska  for                                                               
hagfish.   The department  didn't have a  survey for  hagfish but                                                               
looked at  other hagfish fisheries  on the  West Coast to  get an                                                               
idea  of  the  catch  rates  in  fisheries  that  are  considered                                                               
sustainable.  The  department also looked at what  gear types are                                                               
appropriate  and what  fishing seasons  are appropriate  and then                                                               
authorized a  limited fishery for hagfish  under a Commissioner's                                                               
Permit.   The fishery  has been  closely monitored  in-season and                                                               
ADF&G has  been able to keep  that fishery going for  five or six                                                               
years now.   He  said that  is the type  of fishery  he envisions                                                               
when there is talk about a  new fishery.  Mr. Bowers related that                                                               
the Prince  William Sound tanner  crab fishery is a  fishery that                                                               
was open  for many years  and then  closed due to  low abundance.                                                               
The department  has an  annual survey for  that fishery  and this                                                               
year ADF&G  is planning  about 18 days  of survey  time beginning                                                               
June 1, plus  a Board of Fisheries harvest strategy  is in place.                                                               
So, he continued,  it is more of an established  fishery that has                                                               
been closed  and recently  reopened.  Fishing  has been  going on                                                               
there  for the  last five  or  six years  under a  Commissioner's                                                               
Permit and has been going pretty well.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS next  responded to the question about  how to identify                                                               
a  prospective pool  of fishermen  who would  vote to  form these                                                               
associations.   He stated that  the CFEC permit, the  interim use                                                               
or limited  entry permit, is  obviously one identifier,  but also                                                               
some  of  those permits  allow  a  person  to fish  for  multiple                                                               
species  in multiple  parts of  the  state, which  he thinks  was                                                               
maybe part of the concern raised  by SEAFA in its comment letter.                                                               
He explained that  ADF&G couldn't just use the CFEC  permit as an                                                               
identifier.    The  department  would   have  to  look  at  other                                                               
characteristics  of the  fishery, such  as the  species and  area                                                               
where the  harvest is occurring,  to identify the  potential pool                                                               
of fishermen  who could vote to  authorize and form one  of these                                                               
associations.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:33:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  asked  whether  there  are  many  hagfish                                                               
fishermen waiting in the wings to form an association.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS answered  that the hagfish fishery is  small with only                                                               
a couple  fishermen participating.   He said  he doesn't  know if                                                               
these  fishermen  are aware  of  this  bill,  but they  would  be                                                               
eligible  to form  an  association if  they so  choose  if HB  64                                                               
becomes law.   He related  that the fishermen  haven't approached                                                               
ADF&G regarding any of the concepts that are in HB 64.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:34:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked   whether  the  75  percent                                                               
voting threshold  in HB 64  is the  same as the  voting threshold                                                               
for SARDFA to make changes to the dive fishery.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN confirmed that's correct.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  noted that some  statutory changes                                                               
were made over the last nine  years to the way the Southeast dive                                                               
fishery program functions.   He further noted that  the bills for                                                               
these housekeeping changes  were a pain in the neck  for both the                                                               
legislature and  the dive fishermen.   He inquired as  to whether                                                               
those changes are incorporated into HB 64.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN replied  she  doesn't know  those  cleanup pieces  of                                                               
legislation off the top of her  head.  She related, however, that                                                               
she and Phil Doherty of SARDFA  have walked through the bill, and                                                               
based on  SARDFA's experiences,  Mr. Doherty  recommended changes                                                               
that  she thinks  the  sponsor  is amenable  to  working on  with                                                               
SARDFA to do  some of that cleanup.  Notably,  she continued, Mr.                                                               
Doherty mentioned  that for  SARDFA the  majority of  voters must                                                               
approve the  petition and  it is difficult  to get  a substantial                                                               
portion of  SARDFA's fishermen to  vote in these elections,  so a                                                               
suggested change would  be a majority of ballots  returned.  This                                                               
makes sense, she said, but she  isn't entirely sure that the bill                                                               
doesn't already  cover for  that.   She said  she will  mark that                                                               
section and  reiterated that she  thinks the sponsor  is amenable                                                               
to working  with SARDFA and other  groups to make sure  these are                                                               
clean, brought up to current standards, and work for everybody.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS requested  that this  be confirmed                                                               
as the  sponsor holds  further conversations.   He  then recalled                                                               
that the  cleanup bills fixed administrative  headaches that were                                                               
enshrined  in statute  and  therefore could  only  be solved  via                                                               
statutory change.   He asked  whether Mr. Bowers  recollects what                                                               
those issues  were so the  committee can be  aware of them  as it                                                               
thinks about HB 64.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS responded that he  doesn't have a recollection off the                                                               
top of his head.  He offered for ADF&G to put those together.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TARR stated  her  understanding that  Ms.  Perman will  be                                                               
working on that and suggested that  Ms. Perman can also follow up                                                               
with Representative Kreiss-Tomkins.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:38:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR opened invited testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:39:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PHIL DOHERTY, Executive Director,  Southeast Alaska Regional Dive                                                               
Fisheries  Association (SARDFA),  first addressed  Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins'  question  regarding  the   cleanup  bills.    He                                                               
related  that  two years  ago,  through  Representative Ortiz,  a                                                               
change  was made  to the  voting criteria  for the  assessment on                                                               
SARDFA  fisheries.    In particular,  the  sea  cucumber  fishery                                                               
wanted to  lower the assessment tax  from 5 percent to  3 percent                                                               
and  eventually 1  percent.    The voting  structure  was set  up                                                               
legislatively so that the majority  of permit holders had to vote                                                               
in the  positive.  It  seems easy to  think that the  majority of                                                               
permit holders are  going to vote in the positive  to lower their                                                               
tax.   The problem, however, is  that there were so  many interim                                                               
use permits  in this fishery and  so many divers over  the course                                                               
of the years that dropped out  of the fisheries and lost interest                                                               
and  don't vote.   But  if SARDFA  didn't receive  a ballot  by a                                                               
permit holder it  was considered a no vote.   It was difficult to                                                               
get enough permit holders to  vote.  Through Representative Ortiz                                                               
it was changed in the regulations  to say the majority of ballots                                                               
received  after an  assessment tax  vote.   Mr.  Doherty said  he                                                               
talked to  Ms. Perman  the other  day about HB  64, and  he would                                                               
suggest that  that is  the way it  is.  He  noted that  there are                                                               
about 350-400  permit holders in  the dive fisheries,  and stated                                                               
it is  a lot harder  to get some  of those latent  permit holders                                                               
[to vote] than it  is when it's a brand new  fishery with a half-                                                               
dozen fishermen involved.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS,   in  response  to   Chair  Tarr,                                                               
confirmed that Mr. Doherty's answer was helpful.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:41:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOHERTY  next provided invited testimony  on HB 64.   He said                                                               
he has been  involved with SARDFA for 16 years,  and for 25 years                                                               
prior  to  that he  was  the  area  management biologist  out  of                                                               
Ketchikan for  the Alaska  Department of  Fish and  Game (ADF&G).                                                               
He said he  is therefore familiar with the inner  workings of the                                                               
dive fisheries  and how this association  got set up.   He stated                                                               
that presently  SARDFA is neither  supporting nor  not supporting                                                               
HB 64  because the SARDFA board  has not yet discussed  the bill.                                                               
He is  before the committee to  shed some light on  how SARDFA is                                                               
set up in relation  to HB 64, and the bill is set  up a lot along                                                               
the lines of  how SARDFA is set  up.  He said it  is obvious that                                                               
many of SARDFA's sections are included in the bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOHERTY related  that SARDFA was set up in  1998 as a private                                                               
nonprofit  through the  legislative  body under  AS  43.76.   The                                                               
reason for setting  up the association was because in  the mid to                                                               
late  1980s  the  dive  fisheries   started  to  draw  a  lot  of                                                               
attention.   The  department realized  that  the area's  valuable                                                               
resources of sea cucumbers, geoduck  clams, and sea urchins might                                                               
not  be sustainable  harvests, and  so put  on the  brakes.   The                                                               
department  worked  through  the  CFEC and  the  legislature  and                                                               
imposed a  moratorium on the  fisheries by 1995, which  stayed in                                                               
place through 1999.  Things  got started when the department told                                                               
the  divers  that  it  didn't  have  the  fiscal  wherewithal  to                                                               
continue these fisheries and needed  money from an outside source                                                               
and that  was the  dive fishery.   During the  moratorium, divers                                                               
interested in  forming this association  got together and  set up                                                               
an interim working  board.  They didn't have any  money; they did                                                               
this  because they  knew there  was a  resource out  there.   The                                                               
fisheries got  started again in  the early  2000s.  The  CFEC had                                                               
come up with  the criteria for limiting the fishery,  so it was a                                                               
limited entry  fishery under the  regulations of a  regional dive                                                               
fishery.  The divers voted to  tax themselves.  Each of the three                                                               
species    sea  urchins, sea  cucumbers, and  geoduck clams    is                                                               
taxed at a different rate, depending  on how much money is needed                                                               
to pay ADF&G  to do their assessment and management.   The divers                                                               
vote on the rate.  He concluded by  noting that HB 64 is set up a                                                               
lot like the dive association.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:45:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS noted he  looked at the bill's text                                                               
while Mr. Doherty was testifying  and found that the fix referred                                                               
to is  embodied in the bill    the majority of  ballots returned.                                                               
He said this  is great.  He asked where,  when the dive fisheries                                                               
in  Southeast were  initially created,  the initial  funding came                                                               
from for doing the abundance research, surveys, and science.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOHERTY replied that at  the very beginning in the mid-1980s,                                                               
the fisheries  drawing the  most attention was  sea urchins.   He                                                               
said a California  company which did a lot of  sea urchin work in                                                               
that state  heard there  were a  lot of  sea urchin  resources up                                                               
here.  The company  worked with ADF&G to come up  with a plan for                                                               
a  test fishery,  and through  that test  fishery the  department                                                               
would be  able to look at  the sizes and the  density information                                                               
and draw  some monies from  that test  fishery.  During  the test                                                               
fishery the  divers, most of  who were from California,  saw that                                                               
there were lots  of sea cucumbers and geoduck clams  in the area.                                                               
After the  test fisheries were  done, the fisheries  were started                                                               
with  a half  dozen  divers coming  to  Southeast and  harvesting                                                               
cucumbers and  geoducks at  such very low  levels that  it didn't                                                               
raise any red flags  for ADF&G.  But as more  divers came and the                                                               
harvest increased the  red flags did go up and  ADF&G didn't want                                                               
to make  the same  mistake with sea  urchins, sea  cucumbers, and                                                               
geoduck clams as it did with  abalone.  So the department put the                                                               
breaks to  the fishery.   How did  ADF&G get its  knowledge about                                                               
how  to  manage  the  fisheries  and how  to  do  the  assessment                                                               
activities  during those  years?   These fisheries  were ongoing,                                                               
well  defined,  well  researched,  and well  managed  in  British                                                               
Columbia, California,  and Washington State.   The department met                                                               
with those biologists  and looked at their programs,  then set up                                                               
its own program  much like a well-established  program from those                                                               
three entities.   When first started, these  fisheries were worth                                                               
hundreds of thousands of dollars to  the early fishermen.  In the                                                               
last few years of these  three dive fisheries the ex-vessel value                                                               
just to  the fishermen  is $12-$15  million.  So,  it has  been a                                                               
very successful program over the last 25 years.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:49:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS offered  his understanding that the                                                               
idea was the test fishery  initially, which then provided some of                                                               
the initial  data.  He suggested  that at a future  hearing ADF&G                                                               
could speak to how that chicken  and egg relationship worked.  He                                                               
asked whether the  dive fishermen and dive fisheries  pay the raw                                                               
fish tax to the State of Alaska.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOHERTY responded  that the  fishermen in  the geoduck  clam                                                               
fishery charge  themselves 7 percent  of the ex-vessel  value for                                                               
the SARFDA fisheries  tax.  Then, yes, the 3  percent is added on                                                               
top of  that.  So, basically,  the fishermen in the  geoduck clam                                                               
fishery are taxed at 10 percent.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  pointed out  that this  fishery is                                                               
basically  double taxed,  unlike every  other fishery  in Alaska.                                                               
This fishery  pays the raw  fish tax,  which goes to  the general                                                               
fund and  maybe ultimately ADF&G,  depending on how it  is looked                                                               
at.  Then  on top of that  the fishermen pay the  direct costs of                                                               
managing their own fishery.  He  said he doesn't have a solution,                                                               
but urged  that the committee keep  in mind that any  new fishery                                                               
created by this  process gets stuck with  basically paying double                                                               
for  no  particular reason  other  than  happening to  come  into                                                               
existence later  on.   This feels arbitrary  and he  doesn't know                                                               
how to  reconcile that, he  continued.   It seems that  these new                                                               
fisheries, once established and paying  their own way through the                                                               
raw fish tax, could transition  out of that structure somehow and                                                               
the department  absorbs that responsibility.   He  specified that                                                               
he is just flagging this point.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR invited Mr. Doherty to comment.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOHERTY  stated SARDFA completely agrees  with Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins.  He said the dive  fishery is the only fishery in                                                               
the state  that pays  its own  way.  The  fishery pays  ADF&G and                                                               
also  pays the  Department of  Environmental Conservation  (DEC);                                                               
the  fishery collects  all of  the paralytic  shellfish poisoning                                                               
(PSP).  It is time for the state  to take a look at this fishery,                                                               
he continued, and  say that it is a  well-established fishery and                                                               
the only fishery in the state  that the state doesn't pay for and                                                               
perhaps correct that mistake.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR invited Ms. Perman to add any further comments.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PERMAN  addressed  Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins'  question                                                               
about SARDFA and the  chicken or the egg.  She  stated, "It is my                                                               
understanding that they  had [an] infusion of  federal dollars at                                                               
the very beginning to get going as well."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:53:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  recounted that  he  was  involved in  the                                                               
infancy of  the sea  urchin fishery  in Kodiak,  as a  sea urchin                                                               
transporter, "just  before it collapsed  the first time  when the                                                               
Japanese emperor  died, and  they quit eating  sea urchins  for a                                                               
year."   He offered his  belief that  that was before  there were                                                               
any regulations.   He  noted that  many associations  are already                                                               
present  in  Alaska     a   longliners  association,  a  draggers                                                               
association,  a troll  fish association.   He  stated he  worries                                                               
that [the legislature] is creating  an association in search of a                                                               
fishery, and  he thinks  creating regulations  before there  is a                                                               
need for  them is not  appropriate for this  body.  He  asked Mr.                                                               
Doherty  whether a  new emerging  dive fishery,  say for  example                                                               
starfish,  would fall  under SARDFA  or  would fall  under a  new                                                               
fishery management association created just for it.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOHERTY  answered that the initial  legislation didn't create                                                               
SARDFA  - it  created dive  fisheries associations.   Under  that                                                               
regulation,  he explained,  SARDFA became  a viable  entity using                                                               
the generic regulations that were in  place.  He posed a scenario                                                               
of a  sunstar fishery starting  in Southeast Alaska, and  said if                                                               
it  were a  dive  fishery  it would  fall  under  the purview  of                                                               
SARDFA.  But, he continued, if  a sunstar dive fishery started in                                                               
Prince William Sound,  the fishers would have to  carve out their                                                               
own association.  The regulation is  set up by regions within the                                                               
state   Southeast, Prince William  Sound, Cook Inlet, and Kodiak.                                                               
So,  any dive  fisheries started  in  those areas  would use  the                                                               
generic legislation and  fill in the blanks like  SARDFA did, and                                                               
it  would  be  for  that particular  geographic  area,  which  he                                                               
believes is defined in the enabling legislation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:57:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN, at Chair  Tarr's invitation, addressed Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins'  question  and  comment  about  these  developing                                                               
fishery associations  sustaining a higher  level of tax  than the                                                               
state's  current established  fisheries.   She  said the  sponsor                                                               
also acknowledges  that, and it  isn't the sponsor's  intent that                                                               
as they  scale up into  an established fishery, they  continue to                                                               
pay their  way.  The sponsor  doesn't want to create  a situation                                                               
where the current established fisheries  are grandfathered in and                                                               
from  now  on  the  precedent  is set  that  everybody  pays  for                                                               
themselves.   The  sponsor wants  to create  a system  where they                                                               
scale  out of  it, the  sponsor  doesn't want  them to  instantly                                                               
become  established fisheries  and  then that  funding goes  away                                                               
entirely because it  isn't wanted to find that  where [ADF&G] had                                                               
funding and it drops off to  zero suddenly.  The sponsor wants to                                                               
find a way to  scale away from that over time  so then it becomes                                                               
ADF&G's purview to manage.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  responded that  the aforementioned                                                               
makes a lot of sense.  He  inquired whether there is any idea for                                                               
what could be established to create that transition process.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN  replied that the  sponsor is still discussing  it and                                                               
would be happy to work with him on ideas.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS said he will  take Ms. Perman up on                                                               
that and added that he would like to get ADF&G's perspective.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:58:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MAKENA  O'TOOLE,  Shellfish   Division  Chair,  Cordova  District                                                               
Fishermen  United (CDFU),  testified in  support  of HB  64.   He                                                               
stated he  has been a  member of SARDFA  since 2010.   He thanked                                                               
the  committee for  making  time  for testimony  on  HB  64.   He                                                               
further thanked  Representative Stutes,  Matt Gruening  [staff to                                                               
Representative Stutes], and  Sam Rabung for their  work in taking                                                               
a rough idea  and shaping it into the bill  before the committee.                                                               
He  said it  is a  great example  of the  legislative process  at                                                               
work.  He  noted he is a lifelong fisherman  and lifelong Cordova                                                               
resident, and testified as follows:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  idea  for this  bill  came  about after  years  of                                                                    
     attempting to  open new  fishing opportunities  for un-                                                                    
     utilized  species  in Prince  William  Sound.   It  was                                                                    
     frustrating that we  could go 30 years  without doing a                                                                    
     real  comprehensive survey  for  tanner crab  or go  15                                                                    
     years with no  survey at all for golden  king crab, and                                                                    
     are  currently   going  on   decades  since   our  last                                                                    
     Dungeness survey.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     We  tried  going through  all  the  proper channels  of                                                                    
     Board of [Fisheries],  but we were always  met with the                                                                    
     same response  from ADF&G    we  don't have  funding to                                                                    
     manage  experimental fisheries.    And it's  true.   In                                                                    
     recent years  ADF&G's budget  has received  major cuts.                                                                    
     Critical management projects  for established fisheries                                                                    
     are being cut due to lack of funding.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     I  submitted proposals  for  some  of these  developing                                                                    
     fisheries under Commissioner's Permits  and asked to be                                                                    
     assessed 5  percent to cover management  costs, only to                                                                    
     find out under current statutes  this is legally not an                                                                    
     option.  The only solution  that ADF&G was able to come                                                                    
     up with was  to conduct test fisheries.   This is where                                                                    
     ADF&G  sells the  rights of  a public  resource to  the                                                                    
     highest bidder to generate  revenue for the department.                                                                    
     This system  is very susceptible  to abuse and  rides a                                                                    
     dangerous line  of producing a culture  of sharecropper                                                                    
     fishermen working  for the state.   It also  provides a                                                                    
     very   limited  and   unreliable   dataset  for   stock                                                                    
     assessments.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     HB  64 provides  an alternative  to this  system that's                                                                    
     modeled after  the SARDFA system.   In all my  years of                                                                    
     fishing around Alaska  and the West Coast,  it seems to                                                                    
     be the  healthiest example  of industry  and management                                                                    
     working hand-in-hand on a common  goal.  This bill will                                                                    
     enable   fishermen   to   form   regional   development                                                                    
     associations much  like SARDFA to assess  themselves on                                                                    
     developing  fisheries and  have the  money go  directly                                                                    
     back into  ... the  development and management  of that                                                                    
     specific  fishery,  not   just  disappearing  into  the                                                                    
     general fund.   It will allow ADF&G to  have the budget                                                                    
     and  the   flexibility  to  manage   these  small-scale                                                                    
     fisheries to determine if there is a larger potential.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     This  bill  will not  only  help  fisheries for  a  new                                                                    
     species that have never  been commercially harvested in                                                                    
     certain  areas,  but  will  give  ADF&G  the  tools  to                                                                    
     resurrect once  thriving fisheries that have  been long                                                                    
     defunct.   Some  of the  species that  this could  open                                                                    
     opportunity  for  just  in Prince  William  Sound  are:                                                                    
     tanner  crab;  golden, red,  and  blue  king crab;  sea                                                                    
     urchins;  whelk; Dungeness  crab; skate;  sea cucumber;                                                                    
     spiny  dogfish; Pacific  octopus;  black rockfish;  and                                                                    
     improved tanner crab.   I might add here  that squid in                                                                    
     Southeast is another potential and  all species of crab                                                                    
     in Yakutat in Area D could majorly benefit from this.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     In this  time of statewide budget  shortages, the state                                                                    
     has   put  a   very   heavy   emphasis  on   developing                                                                    
     mariculture to  boost our struggling economy.   While I                                                                    
     fully  support this,  I think  we should  put an  equal                                                                    
     amount  of  energy  into fully  utilizing  the  fishery                                                                    
     resources that we  already have.  HB 64  gives us tools                                                                    
     to do  that and  make Alaska's fisheries  stronger than                                                                    
     ever.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:01:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'TOOLE spoke to the  committee's earlier discussions of test                                                               
fisheries, which he allowed have  their time and place.  However,                                                               
he related,  ADF&G has put forth  a proposal for the  next [Board                                                               
of Fisheries]  cycle that would  structure the management  of the                                                               
tanner  crab  fishery  in  Prince  William  Sound.    Under  this                                                               
proposal, he  stated, all the  funding would depend  on executing                                                               
yearly  test  fisheries  where  ADF&G sells  the  rights  of  the                                                               
fishery to a select few lowest  bidders.  That hasn't worked very                                                               
well in the past, he pointed  out.  People take the contracts and                                                               
then realize they  bid too much for  the right to go  fish.  They                                                               
then don't complete  their survey or their  fishery, leaving [the                                                               
department] with no  data to assess the stocks and  no funding to                                                               
manage the fishery.   He said he thinks that  doing an assessment                                                               
from  the  entire fishing  fleet  that's  participating in  these                                                               
developing fisheries  is a much  more stable way to  move forward                                                               
toward management.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'TOOLE then addressed the  committee's earlier discussion of                                                               
too  many fishing  organizations.   He said  he understands  that                                                               
that could be a concern, but  stated that if there were any other                                                               
route through  an existing organization or  through statute, then                                                               
he definitely would have tried that.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:04:08 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR  commented on Mr. O'Toole's  extensive experience with                                                               
this  process and  said his  testimony was  very helpful  to her.                                                               
She asked  Mr. O'Toole  whether he  sees this  bill being  put to                                                               
quick use if it is passed.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  O'TOOLE replied  that  he  thinks so.    He  related that  a                                                               
fisheries development association [that  he is involved with] has                                                               
been  meeting  every  week  or  so  for  the  last  three  years.                                                               
Unfortunately, he  continued, it's just an  organization in title                                                               
alone,  there's  nothing  that  can   come  from  it  other  than                                                               
generating  ideas.   The idea  for this  bill was  heavily tossed                                                               
around in that organization.  He  said he thinks it could be made                                                               
a  formal  thing pretty  quickly  and  start contributing  toward                                                               
tanner crab specifically, but also  move toward opening the other                                                               
under-utilized fisheries in the area.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:05:46 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR opened public testimony on HB 64.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:06:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHELSEA HAISMAN,  Executive Director, Cordova  District Fisherman                                                               
United (CDFU),  testified in support  of HB  64.  She  stated she                                                               
has  been working  closely with  Mr. O'Toole  and is  speaking in                                                               
support of the bill on behalf  of CDFU's Shellfish Division.  She                                                               
continued:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     One of the primary  challenges our Prince William Sound                                                                    
     fleet has faced in recent  years is the lack of options                                                                    
     for   diversification   in  our   region's   fisheries,                                                                    
     particularly   for    younger   fishermen    who   face                                                                    
     significant expenses and high permit  prices.  We are a                                                                    
     heavily  salmon dependent  region, with  some fishermen                                                                    
     engaging in halibut and groundfish  fisheries.  As part                                                                    
     of the  younger generation  of commercial  fishermen in                                                                    
     the  region  we grew  up  hearing  the stories  of  the                                                                    
     heyday  of  fishing in  Prince  William  Sound    crab,                                                                    
     clams, herring    but also  in the wake  of significant                                                                    
     environmental, social, and economic  trauma, and we did                                                                    
     not experience these  fisheries in the same  way as our                                                                    
     parents and grandparents.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     After  30 years  with many  fisheries being  closed, we                                                                    
     are seeing many anecdotal reports  of a wide variety of                                                                    
     under-utilized  species, both  the formerly  fished and                                                                    
     entirely new  fisheries   tanner  crab, king  crab, sea                                                                    
     cucumber, skates  as examples.   Species that  could be                                                                    
     fished in small-scale small  fisheries to provide food,                                                                    
     jobs,  and  expand  economic   impact  in  our  coastal                                                                    
     communities.   We've  worked hard  in  recent years  to                                                                    
     establish relationships with  Alaska Department of Fish                                                                    
     and   Game   biologists   and  voiced   our   concerns,                                                                    
     questions, and  ideas.  We've  taken these to  Board of                                                                    
     [Fisheries].   We do feel  like we've made  progress in                                                                    
     the last few years to  get some of these under-utilized                                                                    
     resources  open  through   Commissioner's  Permits  and                                                                    
     there is so  much more potential to  continue this work                                                                    
     into the future.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Unfortunately,  funding has  continued to  be an  issue                                                                    
     for   adequate  management,   and  without   a  funding                                                                    
     mechanism  in place  we lack  the surveys  necessary to                                                                    
     assess  biomass to  open many  fisheries  in the  first                                                                    
     place.  The  ADF&G budget is stretched to  the limit as                                                                    
     it   is  with   existing   fisheries,  leaving   little                                                                    
     opportunity to assess or open  new fisheries and expand                                                                    
     our  coastal economy.   Though  this idea  started with                                                                    
     challenges seen  in our own  region, we believe  it can                                                                    
     provide frameworks  that will benefit the  entire state                                                                    
     and provide  opportunity for  fishermen in  all regions                                                                    
     to  engage  with  management and  ensure  that  we  are                                                                    
     sustainably  utilizing   Alaska's  resources   for  the                                                                    
     benefit of Alaskans.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:08:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR  noted there is  talk about  the greying of  the fleet                                                               
and the need to get the next generation of fishers out there.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY  requested  Ms.  Perman  elaborate  further                                                               
about how the dive fishery groups started with federal funds.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. PERMAN replied that that  is secondhand knowledge she learned                                                               
from Mr. Doherty.  She deferred to Mr. Doherty to elaborate.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:09:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR closed public testimony on HB 64.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:09:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY restated her question for Mr. Doherty.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOHERTY  responded  that when  transitioning  from  an  open                                                               
fishery that wasn't  being assessed to the  moratorium, the state                                                               
and the  divers started  looking for at  least enough  funding to                                                               
get  things  started.    One funding  source  was  federal  money                                                               
through U.S. Senator Ted Stevens,  called "near shore funds."  He                                                               
said  he doesn't  recall the  amount, but  it was  enough to  get                                                               
things started and  get ADF&G up and running  to start assessment                                                               
work.   The State of Alaska  also threw in some  funds because it                                                               
used state personnel  and the state research vessel.   Divers and                                                               
businesses  approached   Southeast  Alaska   municipalities  like                                                               
Ketchikan, Sitka,  and Petersburg.   The  municipalities realized                                                               
that  this  was  an  opportunity to  expand  fisheries,  so  they                                                               
provided  some funding.   As  well, funding  came from  different                                                               
companies that wanted to get into the dive fisheries.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:11:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TARR announced that HB 64 was held over.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:13:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Fisheries meeting was adjourned at 11:14                                                                   
a.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 64 Sponsor Statement Version B 03.16.2021.pdf HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64
HB 64 Version B 2.18.2021.PDF HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64
HB 64 Sectional Analysis Version B 03.24.21.pdf HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64
HB 64 Fiscal Note - DOR-TAX 3.26.21.pdf HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64
HB 64 Fiscal Note - DFG-DCF 3.27.21.pdf HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64
HB 64 Testimony Received by 3.31.21.pdf HFSH 4/1/2021 10:00:00 AM
HFSH 4/20/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 64