Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/01/2004 01:37 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           HB 341-DIVE FISHERY MANAGEMENT ASSESSMENT                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CON BUNDE announced HB 341 to be up for consideration.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. TIM  BARRY, staff to  Representative Bill  Williams, sponsor,                                                               
explained that  the bill  was requested  by the  Southeast Alaska                                                               
Regional Dive Fisheries Association  (SARDFA). It's essentially a                                                               
housekeeping measure  to give  the organization  more flexibility                                                               
in   its   operations.   SARDFA  is   an   effective   management                                                               
organization  and  is  composed   of  fishermen,  processors  and                                                               
representatives of  a number of Southeast  Alaska communities; it                                                               
works  closely  with  the  Alaska Department  of  Fish  and  Game                                                               
(ADF&G)  to  develop  management   plans  for  the  various  dive                                                               
fisheries. Members of  SARDFA pay a tax based on  a percentage of                                                               
the value  of their catch  and the  revenue is spent  on managing                                                               
the dive fisheries. Under current  state law, association members                                                               
elect to tax themselves  at a rate of either 1%, 3%,  5% or 7% of                                                               
the value of their landings in  a particular dive fishery. HB 341                                                               
would  give  association members  the  additional  option to  tax                                                               
themselves at 2%, 4% or 6% rates. There is a zero fiscal note.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BUNDE  asked how the  members would choose to  change their                                                               
assessment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BARRY replied  that  the  members of  the  association in  a                                                               
particular dive fishery  would vote to change the  tax rate. This                                                               
legislation  was   modeled  on   the  Alaska   Seafood  Marketing                                                               
Association (ASMI) and the aquaculture association models.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. JULIE  DECKER, Executive Director, Southeast  Alaska Regional                                                               
Dive  Fisheries  Association (SARDFA),  said  its  mission is  to                                                               
develop, expand  and enhance new  and existing dive  fisheries in                                                               
Southeast. She said that geoducks  and sea cucumbers are taxed at                                                               
5 and  7 percent for  sea urchins.  The assessments help  pay for                                                               
the increased  cost of management  and surveying  associated with                                                               
expansion  of   the  fisheries  and  for   special  developmental                                                               
projects, which  allow them  to increase  the ex-vessel  value of                                                               
the resources.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  BUNDE said  that similar  legislation  in other  fisheries                                                               
didn't have  unanimous agreement  on taxing themselves  and asked                                                               
if she had polled her membership.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER  replied that she  has received  overwhelming response                                                               
to this legislation  and over two-thirds voted  to tax themselves                                                               
in each of the fisheries.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:12 p.m.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 04-30, SIDE A                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DECKER explained  that  the association  sees  the need  for                                                               
flexibility in the  future and wants to have this  in place ahead                                                               
of time.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH  asked her exactly how the  tax money would                                                               
be spent.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER responded  that each year the  association develops an                                                               
annual  operating plan  in cooperation  with ADF&G.  Some of  the                                                               
funds are  used to  pay for SARDFA  administration costs  and for                                                               
ADF&G  to survey  new areas,  a little  bit of  research that  is                                                               
necessary  for sustainable  management of  the resource  and some                                                               
water and PSP  testing costs for the geoduck  fishery. Some funds                                                               
could  be used  for  starting small  pilot enhancement  projects,                                                               
which basically consists of reseeding certain areas.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR RALPH  SEEKINS moved to  pass HB 341 from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  objected, because  he hadn't  had enough  time to                                                               
look at it.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  BUNDE said  he  would  hold HB  341  over  until the  next                                                               
meeting.                                                                                                                        

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