Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/16/1994 01:00 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  Number 485                                                                   
  SB 316 - FISHING VIOLATIONS/FINES, BURDEN OF PROOF                           
  JIM BECKER, a Bristol Bay fisherman, expressed his concerns                  
  that the line in Bristol Bay is too restrictive, and the                     
  LORAN management of that line is unpredictable.  He said he                  
  has no problem with those people in extreme violation who                    
  are blatantly over the line, being heavily fined or having                   
  their boats taken away; but the unclear line gets in the way                 
  of the average fisherman just trying to make a living, as                    
  does a fine for setting nets a couple of minutes early.  A                   
  couple of those small violations should not result in                        
  someone losing their privilege to fish.                                      
  Number 530                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER asked DAVE THOMPSON from Senator Halford's                   
  office to describe the bill.                                                 
  Number 531                                                                   
  DAVE THOMPSON, Aide, Senator Rick Halford, Prime Sponsor of                  
  SB 316, explained the bill, saying that it amends an                         
  escalating schedule for suspension and for eventual                          
  forfeiture of commercial fishing privileges, as well as the                  
  license itself.  It amends 16.05.722 which doubles the                       
  potential maximum allowable fines.  It amends the elementary                 
  burden commercial fishermen must satisfy in order to rebut                   
  the presumption that fish found on board in the fishing                      
  vessel have been taken illegally.  Burden of proof has been                  
  increased from the preponderance of evidence to clear and                    
  convincing standard.  He said he finds the declining fine                    
  amounts for the 90 repeat offenders disturbing.  Mr.                         
  Thompson then proceeded to explain the difference between                    
  "preponderance of evidence" and "clear and convincing."                      
  Number 643                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS had concerns over the fluctuation of accuracy                  
  in the technological measuring devices.                                      
  Number 660                                                                   
  MR. THOMPSON agreed that the LORAN equipment does have                       
  calibration problems and is not always accurate.                             
  Number 681                                                                   
  REP. JAMES suggested charging repeat offenders a double                      
  fine, and discussed other types of fines and their affects                   
  on fishermen with MR. THOMPSON, and REP. PHILLIPS.  She                      
  expressed the need to come up with a fair compromise that                    
  would not deplete the livelihood of such an offender.                        
  CHAIRMAN PORTER then accepted oral testimony via                             
  teleconference, beginning with Anchorage.                                    
  Number 690                                                                   
  SAM DANIEL, an Anchorage commercial fisherman, opposed SB                    
  316.  He blamed the problem on the repeat offenders.  He                     
  urged lawmakers to consider some other means of enforcement                  
  rather than taking away fishing licenses, which results in                   
  the fishermen losing their operations if they are to be out                  
  of business for a year.  He felt the bill is not an                          
  effective management tool.                                                   
  Number 804                                                                   
  JACK FOSTER from Sand Point strongly opposed the bill.                       
  Number 836                                                                   
  DAVID WHITMIRE, a fisherman from Homer, strongly opposed the                 
  bill, informing listeners that those 90 violations received                  
  by repeat offenders was a small amount, considering the                      
  number of permits that were issued (2850), and also                          
  considering the number of opportunities each permit holder                   
  has to commit such violations.                                               
  TAPE 94-59, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  REP. JAMES commented that this was not a black and white                     
  Number 012                                                                   
  GIOVANNI TALLINO, President, Kodiak Island Sport                             
  Association, which has over 400 members, urged the committee                 
  to let the people vote on SJR 39 (wrong bill).                               
  Number 060                                                                   
  WILLIAM WOOD, Palmer, strongly supported SB 316.                             
  Number 092                                                                   
  DAN HASTINGS, a commercial fisherman in Kenai, opposed the                   
  bill, feeling that the penalties would be too stiff for the                  
  Number 155                                                                   
  [INAUDIBLE NAME], a 20 year Bristol Bay fisherman, believed                  
  the bill to condemn people to being guilty until proven                      
  innocent, and also has the potential of taking away the                      
  livelihood of fishermen.                                                     
  Number 200                                                                   
  KONRAD SCHAAD, Homer fisherman, spoke in opposition to the                   
  bill he described as being short-sided, specifically with                    
  the use of the LORAN, a unit which is supposed to be                         
  accurate (or inaccurate) up to 200 meters, depending upon                    
  the weather.  He claimed that there is a gray zone in which                  
  fishing violations are issued.  Mr. Schaad strongly believed                 
  that the real problem was lack of boundary definition and                    
  suggested creating a line made up of physical buoys.                         
  Number 277                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS acknowledged KONRAD SCHAAD'S line suggestion                   
  as being a reasonable solution.                                              
  Number 296                                                                   
  ROSELEEN (SNOOKS) MOORE, Homer, said she has fished                          
  commercially for 34 years and expressed concerns about the                   
  militaristic attitude of the Fish & Game officers, and also                  
  about the fact that fishermen sometimes feel compelled to                    
  take action that may jeopardize their lives, just to avoid a                 
  Number 343                                                                   
  INGRID JACOBSEN, Sand Point commercial fisherman of 15                       
  years,  opposed the bill which appears to presume offenders                  
  guilty until proven innocent.  Ms. Jacobsen objected,                        
  specifically, to the language "clear and convincing burden                   
  of proof."                                                                   
  Number 388                                                                   
  DAN HENNICK, Homer, a 38 year commercial fisherman,                          
  suggested giving Public Safety more funding to better                        
  enforce existing laws.  He objected to increasing fines and                  
  believed most violations to be unintentional, not                            
  Number 450                                                                   
  ALVIN OSTERBACK, Mayor of the City of Sand Point, viewed the                 
  bill as being backwards regarding "innocent until proven                     
  Number 515                                                                   
  GERALD McCUNE, Juneau, testified on behalf of the United                     
  Fishermen of Alaska in opposition to SB 316.  He gave                        
  examples where "preponderance of evidence" was used to issue                 
  violations against fishermen while he believed "clear and                    
  convincing evidence" would have been a more fair scale of                    
  judgement.  He suggested the committee consider an interim                   
  task force.                                                                  
  Number 572                                                                   
  HUGH MALONE, Lobbyist, testified on behalf of the Kenai                      
  Peninsula Fishermen's Association, who oppose SB 316.                        
  Number 598                                                                   
  LOUIS MENENDEZ, Assistant District Attorney in Juneau,                       
  stated that he has quite a bit of experience in Kenai and                    
  Anchorage prosecuting fish and game cases, and working with                  
  fish and game protection officers.  He suggested that                        
  perhaps a better way to deal with this problem would be to                   
  increase enforcement, not fines.  He believed this complex                   
  issue requires more evaluation before passing the bill.                      
  Number 693                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS, REP. JAMES and MR. MENENDEZ discussed the                     
  need for either more enforcement officers on the line, or                    
  the establishment of a physical boundary line.  Mr. Menendez                 
  displayed lack of faith in the idea of increasing the fines.                 
  Number 799                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER and MR. MENENDEZ discussed the legal                         
  definition of acting "negligently."                                          
  Number 828                                                                   
  REP. JAMES expressed distress over the feeling that any                      
  amount of enforcement would not stop the fishermen from                      
  violating the regulations.                                                   
  TAPE 94-60, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  COLONEL BILL VALENTINE, Director, Division of Fish and                       
  Wildlife Protection, Department of Public Safety, agreed                     
  with Mr. Menendez that it would be nice to have a protection                 
  officer behind every bush out at Bristol Bay, but he                         
  believed it was not meant to be.  He said that Fish & Game                   
  supports the bill.  He believed that whatever they do will                   
  not provide a deterrent.  The fishermen violate regulations                  
  right in front of the Fish & Game officers while they are                    
  working on other cases.  The officers cannot keep up, no                     
  matter how many people they put on the line.  He explained                   
  that this bill allows for a judge to take action to suspend                  
  a permit after the second offense, which may deter some from                 
  deliberate violations.                                                       
  Number 031                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER agreed that SB 316 not only raises the fine                  
  to add a deterrent, but at the same time changes the                         
  standards of proof on these presumptive areas from                           
  preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing.                       
  Number 107                                                                   
  COLONEL VALENTINE made comments about a great deal of                        
  testimony being made regarding the doubling of fines.  He                    
  said the only place that a maximum penalty case occurs is in                 
  Bristol Bay, which costs $3,000 on the first offense.                        
  Places like Southeastern and the YK-Delta charges run from                   
  $100 to $1,000, depending upon the magistrate, the judge, or                 
  the recommendation of the Department of Law.  Maximum                        
  penalties for violations are not currently requested from                    
  the court by the Department of Public Safety.                                
  Number 139                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS spoke about the fact that it is probably                       
  physically possible to mark the line and requested an                        
  opinion of COLONEL VALENTINE.                                                
  Number 147                                                                   
  COLONEL VALENTINE replied that after having spent 23 years                   
  as a "fish cop" and having spent one year as a commercial                    
  fisherman, he thinks that a physical line would be the best                  
  solution; especially in a fishery as intense and short                       
  served as Bristol Bay is.  If the line were to move around a                 
  little, so be it, the line would be defined where it is                      
  marked, and would not be subject to the jitter of the LORAN,                 
  nor sun spots.                                                               
  Number 150                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS spoke in favor of clearly marking the line.                    
  Number 155                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN PORTER concluded the discussion of SB 316, followed                 
  by a short break.                                                            
  Number 200                                                                   
  REP. PHILLIPS requested that the Department of Law be                        
  present for comment and question when the bill was brought                   
  back up on Monday; and she also requested that the hearing                   
  be heard via teleconference.                                                 
  CHAIRMAN PORTER concurred.                                                   
  Number 210                                                                   
  DAVID OSTERBACK from Sand Point was not in favor of the                      
  bill, as he said it threatens the livelihood of many                         
  CHAIRMAN PORTER reminded meeting attenders that SB 316 would                 
  be heard again on Monday.  He then continued on to SJR 39.                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects