Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205
03/13/2020 03:30 PM RESOURCES
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SB 232-PERSONAL USE FISHING PERMIT FEES 4:08:07 PM CHAIR MICCICHE announced that the final order of business would be SENATE BILL NO. 232, "An Act relating to personal use fishing permits." 4:08:34 PM KONRAD JACKSON, Staff, Senator Micciche, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, explained that SB 232 addresses the impacts of the dipnet fishery that face Cook Inlet communities. This includes burdens on local services, infrastructure, handling of excess fish waste, and litter. He directed attention to the photos in the packet that illustrate the situation at the mouth of the Kenai River, noting that sometimes there is some disregard for beaches, residents, and property owners near the fisheries. He said Chair Micciche is familiar with the situation because that area is in his district. He said the dipnet influx does bring some revenue, but before the City of Kenai instituted a small fee for beach access and camping it shouldered the entire burden with no assistance from the State. MR. JACKSON explained that SB 232 institutes a $5 fee for a personal use fishing permit. As currently drafted, the bill would split the fees between communities where the personal use fisheries take place with the remaining funds staying in the general fund to assist fisheries that are outside of the municipalities. He reiterated that the fee will cover some of the infrastructure and support services where the fisheries take place, and noted that the Chitina fishery instituted a $15 permit to help clean up some of the mess that resulted from the fishery. MR. JACKSON said the $5 fee currently would apply to all personal use fisheries in the state, but the sponsor intends to offer an amendment to focus on the Cook Inlet dipnet fisheries. 4:11:45 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI asked if he said that the fee would apply to every personal use fishery, but a pending amendment would limit the focus to just the Cook Inlet fisheries. MR. JACKSON answered yes. He said as currently written the fee would apply to all personal use fisheries, including the Chitina fishery, and that was never the intention. SENATOR KAWASAKI asked how the $5 fee would be allocated to the other fisheries. MR. JACKSON restated that the ultimate intent is for the $5 fee to apply to and be used for the Cook Inlet personal use fisheries. SENATOR KAWASAKI noted that the Copper River personal use fishery creates waste that impacts a downriver community. He asked if the downriver community would receive support for cleanup. MR. JACKSON reiterated that the focus is on the fisheries in Cook Inlet. 4:14:07 PM CHAIR MICCICHE, sponsor of SB 232, clarified that his intent was to introduce the bill and then introduce a committee substitute (CS) for strictly Cook Inlet. The fee will offset both the City of Kenai's management costs and the Kasilof River's infrastructure for restrooms, boat ramps, and cleanup. SENATOR COGHILL remarked that the $5 fee is acceptable. He asked how many people participate in the personal use dipnet fishery. MR. JACKSON replied the city manager of Kenai probably has accurate numbers. He noted that the City of Kenai does an annual report on infrastructure impacts following the fishery. 4:15:31 PM CHAIR MICCICHE opened public testimony. 4:15:47 PM PAUL OSTRANDER, City Manager, City of Kenai, Kenai, Alaska, testified in support of SB 232. He said the City of Kenai has been supporting the personal use fishery since 1996. He noted that the photos presented to committee members are from 2010 or 2011, before the city actively managed fish waste on the beaches. The city has increased management and services in the area and is very proud of the experience they provide to the dipnet participants. He detailed that with the rapid growth of the fishery, which peaked in 2011 and 2012, the city established a personal use fishery fund to buffer the volatility tied to fish runs. They charge for parking, camping, and boat launching to generate enough revenue to support the fishery and provide services. MR. OSTRANDER said the city has seen decreased revenue from fees over the last two or three years and the worry is that the city will soon need to subsidize fishery expenses from the city's general fund. For example, the city had a net loss of $95,000 in FY2019 and a net loss of $3,000 last year after reducing expenditures by $56,000. The city is seeing people accessing the Kasilof River or the Kenai River at different locations. MR. OSTRANDER pointed out that the Alaska Division of Mining, Land, and Water (DMLW) manages the Kasilof fishery. The State does not allow DMLW to charge fees, but their annual management budget is approximately $50,000 to $60,000. The $5 fee allocation would generate $40,000 for the Kasilof fishery. 4:20:11 PM SENATOR KAWASAKI asked Mr. Ostrander to go over the fees that the City of Kenai charges people who fish in the dipnet fishery. MR. OSTRANDER answered that the city charges for camping, parking, beach drop-offs, and boat launches. SENATOR KAWASAKI asked if the City of Kenai has increased it rates to make up for recent budget deficits. MR. OSTRANDER answered that the City of Kenai last increased fees in 2015. The city's current boat launch fees are higher than what the State charges. The city believes that any fee increases would create diminishing returns where people seek to access the fishery from other locations. SENATOR REVAK said he is very fond of the Kenai River and has frequented the personal use fishery over the years. He said he finds the city's fees expensive and spreading out the proposed user fees would be appropriate. CHAIR MICCICHE said the intent of the bill is to find a low-cost way of spreading out impact from the personal use fisheries. As the City of Kenai has increased fees, people are finding less expensive ways to dipnet fish without participating in the city's maintenance. More people are going to the Kasilof River where there are no facilities, and that impacts the State. 4:24:16 PM CHAIR MICCICHE held SB 232 in committee with public testimony open.