Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/16/2001 03:47 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         HJR 10-GROUNDFISH FISHERIES AND STELLER SEA LION                                                                   
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON announced HJR 10 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE DREW SCALZI, sponsor of HJR 10, testified:                                                                       
     Upon passage  of Magnuson Stevens  Fisheries Conservation                                                                  
     Management  Act,  fisheries  in  the  U.S.  waters became                                                                  
     governed  by regional  councils  and they were  set up  to                                                                 
     make  sound   decisions  based  on  biological   data  and                                                                 
     economic viability  to the coastal communities.  The North                                                                 
     Pacific Fisheries Management  Council has done a very good                                                                 
     job in managing the largest  fisheries in the United State                                                                 
     waters, which are predominantly  carried in the Bering Sea                                                                 
     and Gulf of Alaska.                                                                                                        
     In  1973, the  U.S. Congress  also passed  the Endangered                                                                  
     Species  Act, which was  a noble attempt  to place safety                                                                  
     measures around species  deemed threatened to the point of                                                                 
     extinction.  The Western  Stellar Sea  Lion in Alaska  has                                                                 
     become   identified   as  such  an   endangered  species.                                                                  
     Nevertheless,   the fisheries   management  by  the  North                                                                 
     Pacific  Fisheries Management  Council  was challenged  in                                                                 
     court  by Green Peace  and a  stay was issued  in a  Ninth                                                                 
     Circuit  Court  requiring  that a  biological  opinion  to                                                                 
     determine  what measures are  deemed necessary to protect                                                                  
     the Stellar.                                                                                                               
     The  National Marine  Fisheries Service  was charged  with                                                                 
     the  task of formulating  the biological  opinion (BIOP),                                                                  
     which set  in motion a number of restrictions  on our U.S.                                                                 
     and  Alaskan  fisheries.  In  defense  of  NMFS (National                                                                  
     Marine  Fisheries  Service),  the  task  was  to  prove  a                                                                 
     negative.  That  is  a conclusion  proving  there  was  no                                                                 
     conflict  between commercial  fishing and the Stellar  Sea                                                                 
     Lion  and  if  there  was  a  conflict,  what  mitigation                                                                  
     measures they were going to use to offset that.                                                                            
     Four  hundred  and sixty-three  pages  of the  BIOP  sited                                                                 
     numerous assumptions on  the feeding habits of the Stellar                                                                 
     regime shifts  that have taken place in the last  20 years                                                                 
     -   predation  by   Orcas  upon   the  Stellar   and   the                                                                 
     identifiable conflicts between  commercial fishing and the                                                                 
     Stellar Sea Lion. In conclusion,  the scientists could not                                                                 
     determine  100  percent   cause  and  effect  of  any  one                                                                 
     component,  but rather drew assumptions that many  factors                                                                 
     may  have resulted in  decline of the  Stellar. To err  on                                                                 
     the  side  of   conservation,  the  BIOP  concluded   that                                                                 
     shutting down  a large portion of our fisheries  may bring                                                                 
     the  North   Pacific  Fisheries   Management  Council   in                                                                 
     compliance  with the Endangered  Species Act. Frustration                                                                  
     with the process  as the preponderance of evidence  citing                                                                 
     the  decline  of the  Stellar could  find  no conclusion,                                                                  
     because  the evidence  of NMFS was  based on assumptions,                                                                  
     not facts, but assumptions.                                                                                                
     This resolution  asks that we base our management  on good                                                                 
     science and  conclude a reasonable outcome. There  must be                                                                 
     a decision  made to reasonably change the sustained  yield                                                                 
     principal  of fisheries management in U.S. waters  and the                                                                 
     assumptions  that are cited in the BIOP need to  be proven                                                                 
     and  from   there  we'll  draw   a  reasonable  fisheries                                                                  
     management  plan. To this end  we are thankful to Senator                                                                  
     Stevens. We are fortunate  to have $3.5 million of federal                                                                 
     appropriation   that  has  been   distributed  among   the                                                                 
     scientific  community  including the  National Academy  of                                                                 
     Sciences to conduct a peer  review of the BIOP and produce                                                                 
     the  necessary research  upon which to  base a legitimate                                                                  
     Dr.  Bob Small, Marine  Mammals Coordinator  for Fish  and                                                                 
     Game  is  a member  of  the Governor's  Stellar  Sea  Lion                                                                 
     restoration  team  and  will  speak about  the  state  and                                                                 
     federal  research that's planned.  It's ironic that  Green                                                                 
     Peace,  in  their  effort  to  shut  down the  fisheries,                                                                  
     initially targeted the large  factory trawlers. These 200-                                                                 
     300 ft.  vessels are going to  be little affected by  this                                                                 
     act  at all. It's going  to be the  small coastal vessels                                                                  
     that are going to take the  brunt of this. The vessels out                                                                 
     of  Seward, Homer, Kodiak,  King Cove,  Sand Point,  Dutch                                                                 
     Harbor.  They are all ill equipped  to fish in the winter                                                                  
     waters. We  know that this natural phenomenon  has altered                                                                 
     affects  on all living creatures  on the earth, including                                                                  
     mankind  himself. Many  civilizations  have come and  gone                                                                 
     due to regime shifts. All  we're asking in this resolution                                                                 
     is that we manage our fisheries with good science.                                                                         
SENATOR TAYLOR moved and asked for unanimous consent to pass HJR                                                                
10 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no                                                                
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               

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