Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1996 08:02 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 51 - SPORT FISHING GUIDE LIMITED ENTRY The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HJR 51. CHAIR JAMES called on Jeff Logan, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green, to present HJR 51. Number 1315 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representataive Joe Green, explained, when he presented HJR 51 to the committee members last week, the questions primarily related to the specificity of the language. He said, after further research, the simple answer to the questions, was politics. The sponsor was concerned if the language was too broad, the resolution would encounter the same problems as Representative Scott Ogan encountered with his efforts to save the Big Game Commercial Services Board. He called this a "catch-22" situation whereby the resource managers could not take the necessary action without a constitutional amendment. He said the concern expressed earlier regarding restricting other types of resources, such as brown bear guides, through the constitution was valid. However, based on the current information, it was unlikely that would be necessary for quit some time. He said in 1968 the legislature took action to address fishery management issues and passed a bill that instituted limited entry. Litigation followed, of which the state lost, and ultimately a ballot was put before the voters. This, he explained, was how limited entry came about for commercial fisheries. Therefore, a resolution was specific, but it was not unprecedented. Number 1446 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered about sufficient data collected before a decision was reached. Number 1463 MR. LOGAN replied there was a lot of anecdotal evidence. He explained there were fisheries that were full of boats, and resource managers and users had asked for a limit. He cited in 1991 the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation had a set of regulations that were ruled patently unconstitutional. He further stated, everyone knew the real solution to the problem lied with something that would come after HJR 51. Number 1520 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered about the progress of HB 175, Sport Fish Guide Licensing. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied HB 175 was moving forward. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Kodiak, Eric Stirrup. Number 1550 ERIC STIRRUP, Owner, Kodiak Western Charters, said he strongly supported HJR 51. He said the state and the sport fish guide industry were at an important crossroads. He said there were three choices - HJR 51, allocations quoted to each business, or over capitalization. He stated the business was growing by leaps and bounds pushing the allocation window. He asserted it was time the state considered HJR 51 as a management option. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Sitka, Keith Greba. Number 1630 KEITH GREBA said there was ample data to suggest a moratorium due to the limited amount of resources. He was also concerned about the qualifications to become a guide and suggested it needed to be looked at further, otherwise HJR 51 would not solve the problem. Number 1702 CHAIR JAMES asked Mr. Greba if he was in favor of HJR 51? Number 1703 MR. GREBA said he favored a moratorium, and addressing the area of qualifications, before mandating a limited entry. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Sitka, Barbara Bingham. Number 1763 BARBARA BINGHAM said conservation was the issue and a resource should be managed for the end user. She said a constitutional amendment would not solve the problem, and restricting a particular group did not seem appropriate. She also favored a moratorium. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Sitka, Kent Hall. Number 1798 KENT HALL said a constitutional amendment was too drastic. He also favored a moratorium for control. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Gakona, Alan Lemaster. Number 1830 ALAN LEMASTER said he was listening at this point and trying to formulate some ideas. He cited, however, the Gakona River was receiving more pressure every year as a result of problems on other rivers. He said, if the trend was to continue, a regulation would be needed. Number 1887 MR. LOGAN said HJR 51 did not say "when" the limits would be imposed. He asserted the limits would be the end result of a public process based on scientific data. The resolution said the state would have the power to impose a limitation, if needed. He asked the committee members, if saving important fisheries dear to many Alaskans and tourists, was good statewide policy? Number 1942 CHAIR JAMES said she was struggling with this issues. She was not sure a constitutional amendment was the correct way to fix the problem. She agreed there was a problem, but she did not have any suggestions. She stated the Alaska State Constitution mandated the state manage fish and wildlife for sustainability, but no one had tried to manage the state's resources in that manner due to politics. She said some were unwilling to take the political heat that had to be taken to address the problem. She announced she was not pleased with the limited entry program for commercial fisheries, and she did not want to create a limited entry permit that suddenly had a dollar value. Number 2030 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, if it was that clear to everyone, it would not be necessary to put the issue on a ballot. House Joint Resolution 51 removed any stigma, and cleared the way for a solution. Number 2090 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he supported the concept of HJR 51. It was imperative for the state to retain the ownership of the permits, he asserted. He said it was also important to avoid what happened to commercial fisheries. He said he was concerned about Alaska loosing its resources and cited the vulnerability of rock fish. Number 2179 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he agreed with Chair James regarding the value of the permit. He said there was the opportunity to correct that, and suggested adding language to prevent it from happening again. He said he would be willing to take that up in the House Judiciary Committee as Chair of the committee. Number 2223 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN reiterated HJR 51 was not the answer, it just opened the avenue for the answers. There was the suggestion of limiting guides to half-a-day - a morning guide and an afternoon guide, for example. He further said the resolution did not want to cause a rash of unqualified sport guides based on speculation. However, he said limiting the value of the permit was a legal question. Number 2282 CHAIR JAMES stated she found it distressing that the state had not found a way to follow the constitution. She further said it was not proper to use the constitution for special interests. She also alluded there was a timing issue involved, because it was a presidential election year, and suggested the ballots were being stacked. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Valdez, Mark Buchner. Number 2350 MARK BUCHNER said he was the owner of a gill net permit. He said he saved for 10 years to be able to buy the permit. He said it was not fair and suggested a place system for future limited entries. CHAIR JAMES explained the next committees of referral for HJR 51 were the House Special Committee on Fisheries, and the House Judiciary Committee, and announced she felt comfortable moving HJR 51 forward to those committees. Number 2408 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered if HB 175 was also referred to the House State Affairs Committee. Number 2418 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied, "no." CHAIR JAMES explained the only reason the House State Affairs Committee was hearing HJR 51 was because it was a constitutional amendment. Number 2426 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she also struggled with HJR 51. She agreed there was a problem facing the state. She was also concerned about taking an extreme action before all the data was collected to determine the true problems. She announced she did not have a problem moving HJR 51 forward to the next committee of referral - the House Special Committee on Fisheries. Number 2455 CHAIR JAMES commented she was concerned about forwarding HJR 51 to the ballot without more information for the public. Number 2472 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said HB 175 should be in place as a modality to identify sport guides. He cited there was an attempt for a point system on the Guide-Outfitter Use Areas Board for hunting in a particular area. He said there were many problems because of the Owsichek v. State case which ruled the exclusive use of an area was unconstitutional. TAPE 96-20, SIDE B Number 0059 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN reiterated HJR 51 said the state "may" limit sport guide fishing and required further legislation. He reiterated the resolution assured there would not be an impediment and removed any stigma. Number 0107 MR. LOGAN addressed the data issue and referred the committee members to a proposal titled "The Kenai River Guide Limit Proposal." He said it was backed-up by more data than the committee members would like to consider. He further said any proposal under the auspices of a constitutional amendment would be backed-up by ample data. Number 0131 CHAIR JAMES said she understood the "sales technique" regarding the constitutional amendment because the resolution was prompted by a lot of support for a limited entry. The record reflected the arrival of Representative Ivan Ivan at 8:55 a.m. Number 0154 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied, "I would like the record to reflect that you have no idea what my intent is." He said he did not enjoy having it on the record this was a sales technique, and was very offended. He asserted, the resolution was intended to open the avenue for others to solve the problem. Number 0169 CHAIR JAMES apologized to Representative Green. Number 0175 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she was concerned a constitutional amendment was too extreme when it could be discovered that it was not the right direction needed. Number 0202 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied HJR 51 authorized a cure, it did not mandate an answer. CHAIR JAMES announced the presence of Representative Ivan Ivan for the record. Number 0240 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON responded the cure needed to be concluded, before convincing the public a constitutional amendment was necessary. CHAIR JAMES replied, "the cart before the horse." Number 0253 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, "that would put the cart before the horse, exactly." He cited a scenario where time and energy was spent to determine a solution and the people said, "no." He said there was a good chance of a legal challenge, but at least it would be a possibility and the time would be spent for something. Number 0289 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS wondered if a moratorium was a practical way to address the permit issue. Number 0300 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN responded, without a constitutional amendment, there would be a legal challenge. Number 0318 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Green to respond to the fact that the Alaska State Constitution required the state to manage its fish and game on a sustainable yield basis, and wondered what the options were. Number 0329 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied the state managed it resources through seasons and bag limits. He said a moratorium was not possible because it would restrict commerce. Number 0357 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN cited the water shortage in Orange County California whereby at one time the people believed the aquifer was more than sustainable. He said, as an analogy, when the constitution was passed, there was probably more fish than man could ever catch. However, the population and number of people fishing had increased creating a problem with allocation because the resources could no longer sustain the appetites of the users. He agreed meddling with the constitution was risky. He said HJR 51 did not meddle with it, it just made it clearer. Number 0436 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN reiterated he supported HJR 51. He called it an enabling amendment that gave latitude to resource managers. Number 0471 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that HJR 51 move from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee.