Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/20/1996 01:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 51 - SPORT FISHING GUIDE LIMITED ENTRY                                  
 Number 130                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN presented the House Joint Resolution 51 which            
 provides for a clarification regarding the mixed signals from the             
 court that says the state is not restricted from limiting the entry           
 of a fishery. The language as is now enumerated in state statute              
 covers sport fish guiding, as well as, commercial guiding.  It has            
 been rendered that commercial guides can be limited and there is              
 some legal opinion which says that this applies to sport fishing as           
 well.  Others say that this won't stand muster and that some                  
 clarification must be outlined.  This resolution adds the                     
 description that sport fish guiding as a profession is one that the           
 state is not restricted from limiting on a limited entry basis.               
 Number 202                                                                    
 GARY HULL testified by teleconference from Kenai.  He stated that             
 he was in favor of HJR 51 and noted a real need for limited entry             
 on the amount of guides, especially in certain areas such as the              
 Kenai.  He noted that there are probably areas which don't need               
 regulation at this time.  Mr. Hull urged this resolution be placed            
 on the ballot.                                                                
 Number 246                                                                    
 JAMES FITZGERALD testified by teleconference from Kenai.  He stated           
 that he wasn't a guide, but his wife was.  They both agree that               
 something should be done with the guide situation, especially on              
 the Kenai in July.  The only thing they do ask is that if a number            
 of guides is set, to do so by attrition, rather than on an                    
 arbitrary basis.  This way it would be fair to the people who are             
 guiding now.                                                                  
 Number 285                                                                    
 DAN PRUITT, testified from Meier's Lake by teleconference.                    
 (Testimony inaudible.)                                                        
 Number 340                                                                    
 BILL LEONARD testified by teleconference from Gakona.   He asked              
 who and how will it be determined the amount of guides on which               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN noted that this would be instituted by the               
 Department of Fish & Game.  Based on the resource and the number of           
 guides available this would be done on a basis (inaudible -                   
 coughing) commercial fishing too.                                             
 Number 365                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that it was his interpretation that                 
 before this program could implemented there would have to be a                
 statute passed and the department would probably have to implement            
 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that what would happen after the                       
 constitution was amended is a statute would have to be written that           
 would either merely give Fish & Game the authority to write                   
 regulations to determine how, where and when, or the statute could            
 try to get into some policy making in this area depending on the              
 will of the legislature at that time.                                         
 JOHN WITTEVEEN testified by teleconference from Kodiak.  He stated            
 that he owned a lodge on Kodiak and with this business he  runs a             
 charter boat operation.  The allocation problem continues to                  
 persist with the Kenai River and it's related areas, as well as,              
 places in Southeast Alaska for charter boat operators and fishing             
 guides.  He said he would hate to see a limitation on the number of           
 guiding operations, whether charter or river fishing implemented              
 all over the entire state for a problem which perhaps exists in               
 isolated areas.  If indeed the concern is resource management, he             
 felt as though Fish  & Game has the option now if the resource is             
 threatened to either close seasons or limit catches in order to               
 conserve this resource.                                                       
 MR. WITTEVEEN noted that he employs a sixteen year old helper who             
 presently has a sport fishing guide license.  He is very good at              
 what he does and Mr. Witteveen imagines that this helper will want            
 to get into this field on a more permanent basis, yet the classic             
 limited entry system in place for salmon such as for commercial               
 would limit his ability to participate.  He noted that the sport              
 fishing business is not a lucrative profession.  He felt that                 
 certain areas in Alaska, Kodiak particularly where the other                  
 commercial fisheries are on a decline or limited on a certain                 
 basis, people are looking for other opportunities, such as eco-               
 touring or guiding kayaks or bear viewing, etc.  He didn't see how            
 sport fish guiding could be singled out on a blanket, statewide               
 basis just because of problems in some areas of the state.                    
 Number 570                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY stated that she was around when limited entry           
 was instituted to the crabbing industry statewide in the 60's.  She           
 felt then and now that this was a very "un-American" attitude to              
 limit something that is free for everybody.  She felt as though               
 this was private enterprise that they were stepping on.  She used             
 the analogy of a dress shop and limiting one in a town where there            
 are already too many dress shops.  She stated that this was the               
 whole purpose of free enterprize.  Somebody is going to loose their           
 shirt because there are too many guides on a river.  This is the              
 way it's suppose to work.  She said she could just see what will              
 happen.  If the constitution is changed and this fishery becomes              
 worth millions of dollars.  She stated that we have screwed up the            
 fishing industry so badly in this state now.  This is not the                 
 government's job, to limit businesses.                                        
 Number 636                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN spoke to one portion of Representative                   
 Toohey's comments.  He noted that this legislation was not about              
 limiting free enterprize.  This was to protect the fisheries                  
 resource.  If this legislation passes, Fish & Game would then,                
 based on the ability to maintain the resource, implement the same             
 type of program as for commercial fishing.                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that he saw a difference between the                   
 regulation of commercial fishing and this legislation.  "What an              
 analogy would be, would be, some guide to go show a commercial                
 fisherman where to fish because he has the ability to go fish                 
 because he's either got a permit or will be fishing within the                
 limits of the area.  Same thing with a sports fisherman.  They have           
 to get a license and they have to abide by the regulations of how             
 many they take, and all that kind of stuff.  This is a new 'cat,'             
 this is a guide for that.  So I don't see this as a resource                  
 protection.  Maybe I'm missing something."                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a point that if guides are any good they            
 are going to know how to extract the resource far better than the             
 average fisherman.  As these proliferate the resource is adversely            
 affected.  This is why the committee has heard from problem areas.            
 There are certain fisheries where this regulation is definitely               
 Number 762                                                                    
 L. ALAN LEMASTER testified by teleconference from Gakona.  By                 
 limiting the number of guides on a river, the amount of people                
 fishing with these guides will be limited.  However, the people who           
 are not fishing with guides are not limited in any way.  On an                
 average day on the Gakona River there are many times where there              
 are more people fishing without guides than ones with guides.                 
 These guideless fisherman do catch as many fish as those with.  He            
 didn't think that limiting the number of guides will limit the                
 pressure on the fish, but will change the way people fish.                    
 MR. LEMASTER said he had a problem with the next step of the                  
 process if this legislation were to pass.  In order to implement              
 this policy a statute would spell out the regulations or this right           
 would be given to the Department of Fish & Game.   Mr. Lemaster is            
 in the lodge business and as a result he deals directly on several            
 levels with the Department of Environmental Conservation.  A few              
 years ago this department was given the jurisdiction over user                
 fees.  During those hearings he only heard of maybe two witnesses             
 in support of user fees.  Virtually everyone testified against this           
 concept, but because it was a regulatory issue, now they have user            
 fees coming out of their ears.                                                
 MR. LEMASTER said he supports the concept of regulating guides                
 because eventually this profession will have to be limited if                 
 anyone is going to make any money.  However, if it is determined by           
 the people of the state that they want limited entry he strongly              
 suggested that the rules for this program should be spelled out               
 very specifically by the legislature.  "I can't fire anybody who              
 works for Fish & Game, but I can sure help fire the guys that work            
 for the legislature if they pass rules that are detrimental to my             
 business."  The regulatory agencies go 'nuts' when given                      
 regulations to implement.                                                     
 Number 991                                                                    
 JOE HAGER testified by teleconference from Kenai.  He stated that             
 he'd been a guide on the Kenai River since 1978.  At that time                
 there were 38 guides on the river.  The parks took over the system            
 in 1985.  At that time they registered 183 guides.  As of last year           
 there were 314 guides that registered to fish on the Kenai River.             
 He felt as though other guides around the state will eventually see           
 the influx to their businesses as well.  Mr. Hager felt as though             
 they were going to have to cap this off because it's getting too              
 congested on the river and it's not a good business.                          
 Number 1066                                                                   
 MEL ERICKSON, Vice-President, Kenai River Guides Association and              
 Member, Deep Creek Fishing Charter Boat Association testified by              
 teleconference from Kenai.  He stated that he had guided in both              
 these areas for about eight years.  Mr. Erickson stated his support           
 for HJR 51.  This regulatory system for sport fish doesn't                    
 necessarily have to take place in the whole state, but maybe in               
 just those areas which need the program presently.  He said he had            
 just returned from the Board of Fish meetings in Anchorage.  The              
 board just put more restrictions on guides in the Deep Creek area             
 because of the increase in angler catches there.  The escapement              
 there is being affected.                                                      
 MR. ERICKSON stated that the Fish Board had asked guides during               
 public testimony about ways to limit the amount of people who fish            
 the Kenai since they have no authority to limit guides.  He felt              
 that if some limitations were not made soon that the Parks                    
 Department would do so maybe through a lottery or competitive bid,            
 which would be much worse than some sort of limited entry proposed            
 by HJR 51.  He felt as though it would be a good idea to propose an           
 amendment to this resolution which would state that limitation                
 could not be implemented without a specific plan approved by the              
 legislature.  Mr. Erickson also suggested an amendment that would             
 call for a moratorium that would cap at the 1995 level of guides              
 since it will a few years before this program can be implemented.             
 Number 1276                                                                   
 DAVE JONES testified by teleconference from Kodiak.  He stated that           
 he owned a lodge on Kodiak Island.  He said that he was not                   
 necessarily opposed to HJR 51, but he had a lot of concerns about             
 it and noted that it might be appropriate in hot spots around the             
 state.  Mr. Jones said that this measure was not necessary in his             
 area.  In regards to how this legislation will be implemented he              
 had a lot of reservations about this juncture.                                
 Number 1347                                                                   
 DONALD WESTLUND testified by teleconference from Ketchikan.  He               
 stated that he had one question.  He asked if the concept of                  
 limited entry would follow the limited entry language as it is                
 written right now for commercial fishing.                                     
 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that this language was written now and they            
 would not be able to guess what a new legislature would want to               
 create as policy.                                                             
 MR. WESTLUND said that if this legislation passes it will create              
 management problems.  The only way that they can implement this               
 limited entry is to admit that their policies towards the sport               
 catch is problematic from a resource management perspective.                  
 Number 1570                                                                   
 ANDREW SZCZESNY testified by teleconference from Kenai.  He stated            
 that he's been a guide on the Kenai River for 12 years.  Every time           
 there is a concern about overcrowding, the guides seem to take the            
 blame for this.  He noted that if there isn't a cap placed on the             
 number of guides now the resource won't be able to recover.  At               
 this time he has a special use permit on the upper Kenai River                
 which is regulated by the federal government.  He is one of 20                
 people who have this permit up there.  The problem with this system           
 is the influx who use this section of the river which is getting              
 out of control, but if asked what the problem is, the government              
 says there are too many guides on the river.  The lower 48 has had            
 problems with a number of rivers there and they've had to implement           
 restrictions.  It's time Alaska recognizes a need for these                   
 restrictions on the Kenai.                                                    
 Number 1682                                                                   
 JOE HAINES, President, Kenai River Guide Association testified by             
 teleconference from Kenai.  He made a plea to the other guides                
 listening around the state that this effort would be a tool used by           
 local advisory people or the guide associations in an immediate               
 area, although it has to be implemented on a statewide basis.  He             
 used the example of the commercial fishery limited entry and it not           
 being applied to those areas which don't need it.  Secondly, he               
 stated that he'd just come back from the Board of Fish meeting and            
 said it was unbelievable the general consensus that this program              
 should be established, but nobody could understand why it wasn't              
 happening.  In response to Representative Toohey's comments, he               
 felt they were extremely short sighted.  He fully supports HJR 51.            
 Number 1847                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Haines if he thought that limited entry             
 for a sport fishing guide was the same as for a commercial                    
 MR. HAINES answered that limited entry was a stepping stone.  He              
 noted that guided anglers catch 70 percent of the salmon on the               
 Kenai, although they only make up a quarter of the boats which are            
 guide boats.  He felt as though there would be a time that a non-             
 resident would be limited to certain days they can fish.  He said             
 that he didn't mind taking the first step as a guide association to           
 set some of these limits.                                                     
 Number 1970                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if the Department of Fish & Game limit the              
 catch of sport fishing, whether it's guided or not.                           
 MR. HAINES pointed out that sport fishing is not limited due to               
 allocation, but that a minimum escapement is required.  The guides            
 get blamed for all the regulations generated because people need a            
 guide to figure them all out.  Fish & Game has the latitude, but              
 information can't be gathered until fish reports come back the                
 following year.  There are many streams where salmon counts aren't            
 done.  He noted the increase in the number of guides just in the              
 past year and not only are the resource suffering, but the quality            
 of experience is lacking.                                                     
 Number 2099                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN added that the Fish & Game does limit the                
 amount of escapement, but sometimes they miss as noted by closures            
 of all the fish types in an area.  Limiting commercial fishing                
 doesn't solve the entire problem.                                             
 TAPE 96-39, SIDE A                                                            
 MR. HAINES responded to a question posed by Representative Toohey,            
 a question which is not reflected in the minutes because of a tape            
 change.  He stated that the Kenai River was the first river to go             
 to a two fish bag limit.  This spread out to the other streams in             
 the Kenai system.  Mr. Haines said that it was his opinion that               
 this policy should be instituted throughout Cook Inlet.  He noted             
 that five kings was pretty liberal, instead of transferring this              
 fishing effort and waiting till there are resource problems.  He              
 cited some of the rivers in the lower 48 and the limits instituted            
 there.  Mr. Haines stated that in order to preserve resources                 
 Alaska will have to limit the existing popular fishing areas.                 
 Number 222                                                                    
 RUEBEN HANKE testified by teleconference from Kenai.  He said he              
 was in favor of this resolution.  He said it was hard to follow               
 through on end river restrictions when the number of sport                    
 fisherman are too great.  The guides are all trying to make a                 
 living and when a stream closes because of escapement problems,               
 this is hard one everyone.  He said it's also hard to tell clients            
 on a "trip of their lifetime" that they have to release their fish            
 under a catch and release policy.  Mr. Hanke felt as though this              
 resolution would create more continuity to the field.                         
 Number 360                                                                    
 MR. LEMASTER from Gakona said he had a few more things to add.  He            
 stated that rules which apply to one area don't always apply to               
 another.  He questioned the basic purpose of this bill, was it is             
 to limit the number of guides for the benefit of the guides or is             
 it to limit the catch on the river so it won't be placed in                   
 jeopardy.  If it is the latter, he felt as though some credence               
 should be given to the fact that guides take a limited amount of              
 fish out of the river.  He noted the numbers quoted for the guide             
 take on the Kenai at 70 percent and stated that there are other               
 areas where this may be reversed.  Mr. Lemaster added that                    
 basically they just need to limit the amount of people on a river.            
 Number 520                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE spoke to the issue of limited entry and how              
 the value of permits for commercial fishing has skyrocketed.  He              
 said he was in favor of limited entry for sport fishing as long as            
 the state held title to these permits and they would be given back            
 to the state once a guide finishes with a permit so that a dynasty            
 won't be created.  He also spoke to a grandfathering program to               
 allow present guides into the system.                                         
 Number 719                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that they have established this as a                
 three step process, first this issue would go on the ballot to see            
 if the people want to amend the constitution by subsequent                    
 regulation.  For the record, he had concerns about this manner of             
 limitation.  He had concerns on a much broader scope about state              
 permits and licenses becoming a valuable commodity.  At some point            
 this should be stopped.                                                       
 Number 788                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN felt as though the system of limited               
 entry is the only thing they are left with as an alternative in the           
 face of limited resources.  He used the example of Denali National            
 Park and the fact that he's come to accept this as part of this               
 experience, that it is under a limited entry program.  It's the               
 nature of high interest areas and Alaska needs this tool.                     
 Number 850                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated that the fiscal note consisted of                 
 $2,200 as a one time shot for getting this limited entry issue on             
 the ballot.  The amount associated with this issue as a                       
 constitutional amendment should be done as a matter of course                 
 rather than as a special appropriation.  He recommended adopting a            
 zero fiscal note.                                                             
 Number 941                                                                    
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Green responded           
 to a question posed by Representative Toohey to define what a                 
 "closely allied profession" was in regards to this legislation.  He           
 stated that this term was included in the legislation to cover                
 skippers who were not guides who run a boat, people who bait hooks            
 for clients, deck hands and others who assist in the guiding                  
 profession who are not guides.                                                
 Number 1050                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to zero out the attached fiscal            
 note provided by the Division of Elections as to the cost of the              
 constitutional amendment.  There was an objection.  A roll call               
 vote was taken.  Representative Green voted yes.  Representatives             
 Bunde, Toohey, Vezey, Finkelstein and Porter voted no.  The                   
 proposed motion failed.                                                       
 Number 1118                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move HJR 51 from the House              
 Judiciary Committee with individual recommendations and attached              
 fiscal note.  Representative Toohey objected.  A roll call vote was           
 taken.  Representatives Bunde, Vezey, Finkelstein, Green and Porter           
 voted yes.  Representative Toohey voted no.  The motion passed.               

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