Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
04/18/2005 03:30 PM RESOURCES
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|Confirmation Hearing: || Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (aogcc) - Cathy Forester|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 113-GULF OF ALASKA GROUNDFISH FISHERY CHAIR WAGONER announced SB 113 to be up for consideration. SENATOR BEN STEVENS moved to adopt CSSB 113(RES), version S. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIR WAGONER objected for an explanation. SENATOR STEVENS briefed the committee on the changes in the CS as follows: 1. On page 2, lines 24 and 25, "except for mechanical jigging machine fisheries" is added. This would remove mechanical jigging fisheries within state waters from consideration of a direct access privilege (DAP) program. 2. On page 6, lines 3 - 7, "(2)"Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery" is added and regards a fishery in which groundfish are taken in a specified administrative or registration area using a specific type of fishing gear that is either pelagic trawl, non-pelagic trawl, pot, or longline gear. "Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery" does not include mechanical jigging machine fisheries. This clarified what fisheries would be available for consideration of a DAP program. 3. Page 6, lines 17 - 20, adds: "(d) Notwithstanding AS 16.05.815 and AS 16.43.975, the commission or the Department of Fish and Game may release to the owner of a vessel information on the vessel's history of harvests in a fishery that is necessary to apply for a dedicated access privilege issued under AS 16.43.530." SENATOR STEVENS explained that this provision was added so that managers have access to the history of a vessel when a plan is being developed. The information would not be disseminated; it's only in the event that a direct access privileged program is being considered. The Board of Fisheries and the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with respect to the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. ART NELSON, Chairman, Board of Fisheries, said the MOU is a strong statement about how the public process is going to work. BRUCE TWOMLEY, Commissioner, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC), emphasized that the joint public hearings the MOU calls for provide an opportunity to sort through the proposal before it becomes a public proposal. It ties the board together with CFEC during the process so that they can consider testimony together. ED DERSHAM, Vice Chairman, Board of Fisheries, added that the MOU is the end result of a year and a half of work and nine days of public meetings at the Board of Fisheries. 4:34:31 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked if he could elaborate on paragraph 2 and how the process for direct access privilege begins. 4:35:18 PM MR. TWOMLEY explained that limited entry has never been implemented without being asked for by the fishermen in the fishery and that language is intended to reassure the public. 4:36:17 PM CHAIR WAGONER asked what percentage of fishermen would be required for them to consider implementing limited entry. MR. TWOMLEY replied that a statutory duty is set out in the Administrative Procedures Act stating that any time a petition (of one or more people) is submitted, the agency has a duty to respond to it within 30 days. There is no quantitative requirement. The initial step outlined in the MOU will be the Board of Fisheries pointing out fisheries it regards as critical to the CFEC and that will trigger CFEC into doing the basic research to get a good sense of what the fishery looks like and whether or not it would be a likely candidate for a dedicated access privilege program. SENATOR STEVENS asked him to highlight the public comment period and the process for a normal application under existing regulations. 4:39:01 PM MR. TWOMLEY replied in the existing system, the CFEC would receive a petition. In most instances to comply with the statute they say no, but continue to look at the fishery. If the commission can satisfy the constitutional requirements and if a proposal would promote conservation and economic health of the fishery, it has a duty to go forward with it at that point. That proposal has to be reviewed by the Attorney General's office. Then it goes out to the public for comment and that time is often quite generous because you must work around fishing seasons. At the end of the process there is an opportunity to make a decision and that, again, has to be reviewed by the AG's office. 4:40:21 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked how long that takes. MR. TWOMLEY replied a minimum of 90 days, but longer usually. 4:41:42 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked Mr. Dersham how long the public comment period on the Chignik fishery took. MR. DERSHAM replied that the people pursuing the co-op came forward about eight months before the regulatory meeting and informal discussion took place over that period. When the board actually took up the Chignik Co-op for regulatory action, that happened within a nine-day period. The proposal had actually th been on the books from the prior April 10. SENATOR STEVENS asked how the inclusion of a joint hearing process would change their normal hearing process. 4:44:32 PM ART NELSON, Chairman, Board of Fisheries, answered that it could lengthen the hearing process. If the CFEC comes out with preliminary regulations, the board could take exception to them, for instance. Although, he hoped there wouldn't be disagreements between the two bodies. They didn't want to give one agency the power to trump the other in terms of statutory authorities. 4:45:09 PM SENATOR ELTON said that paragraph (5) mandates communication between CFEC and the board on written comments that may be given to CFEC. He anticipated the board would also receive written comments, but nothing mandates that the board's comments need to be shared with CFEC. He asked if that is a structural issue. 4:46:13 PM MR. DERSHAM replied that it is their intent to go back to the work group that had been working for the past year and a half and make additions to that membership for more inclusive public participation in the affected areas. 4:47:17 PM MR. TWOMLEY explained the point is that when the two groups are together, they will be getting all the information at the same time, but because the proposal and notice will come from CFEC, it will have to share its information with the board. 4:47:47 PM SENATOR ELTON said that CFEC commissioners would understand that, but the public might not. 4:48:13 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked Mr. Dersham how efforts on the federal level would impact existing participants on the state level and which fisheries would apply for a direct access program. MR. DERSHAM replied that the board and the department haven't yet defined what a separate fishery is, but the cod fisheries on the south peninsula in Kodiak, and more recently Cook Inlet, and the pollock fisheries from Prince William Sound out through the Aleutians came to his mind first as candidates. 4:51:23 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked how a DAP would the impact the Shumigan Islands pot cod fishery and parallel pollock pelagic trawl fishery. 4:52:00 PM MR. DERSHAM replied: Under current regulations in state waters, if we had a rationalized federal Gulf groundfish fishery next door to those, it would greatly increase the potential for additional pressure during the times when the state waters were opened. So, people's past practices and their past history would be very much at risk with the same set of regulations, because the freed up effort from the federal side could encroach on what's been taking place in the state waters in the past. 4:54:51 PM MR. TWOMLEY agreed, and said the function of DAPs should be to help secure the place of Alaskan fishermen in their fishery. It should also aid enforcement by putting individual limits on their ability to take resources from the fishery. It should also enhance their economic opportunities by excusing them from what would otherwise be a race for the fish. There is more of an opportunity to be rational and to plan. In the absence of that, the fishery would be just as vulnerable as Ed has indicated. 4:55:34 PM CHAIR WAGONER asked him to compare the DAP process to halibut IFQs in terms of its affect on processors in the marketplace. MR. TWOMLEY replied that there are sound opportunities to increase the value of the product simply by being able to fish when it's opportune to do so - when the markets are right, when prices are right and along with the safety benefits of avoiding bad weather. With more marketable fish, it is an opportunity for processors as well. 4:56:20 PM SENATOR SEEKINS asked why the department and the board need to have an MOU. MR. DERSHAM replied that the public needs definitions and a clear understanding of how the process will work. SENATOR SEEKINS said they are not trying to set up an exclusionary process, but to just manage the real resource. MR. DERSHAM replied that is correct. 4:59:38 PM SENATOR STEVENS directed members to page 5, line 5, of the CS that lists the nine key elements that the developers of a program must address. He asked anyone to comment if they saw omissions from the guidelines for development of regulations to implement a program. 5:01:14 PM MR. TWOMLEY commented that these are basic and essential elements of a DAPS program as advised by Lance Nelson, Attorney General's Office. 5:01:57 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked if this list is a product of the hearings held over the last several years. 5:02:21 PM MR. DERSHAM replied yes, definitely. SENATOR STEVENS said that he was trying to highlight that this list is a product of public hearings that have been conducted by the Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council as a joint planning team. 5:02:34 PM MR. DERSHAM added that it was part of the nine days of public hearings the Board of Fisheries conducted over a period of a year and a half with a work group of public panel advisors and input from the general public and participation from representation from the CFEC and the Department of Law. 5:02:59 PM SENATOR STEVENS asked if their work was posted and reviewed. MR. DERSHAM replied yes. 5:04:36 PM SENATOR STEVENS highlighted that the material in this bill is the evolution of an extensive public process among fishing participants and the fisheries managers. He thought there had been adequate public review. 5:05:28 PM SENATOR STEVENS moved to adopt the MOU to be included as a letter of intent with SB 113. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIR WAGONER noted there were no further questions and stated that he would have another hearing on this bill on Saturday.