Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/22/1993 08:30 AM FSH
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES MARCH 22, 1993 8:30 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Carl E. Moses, Chairman Representative Harley Olberg, Vice-Chairman Representative Gail Phillips Representative Cliff Davidson MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Irene Nicholia COMMITTEE CALENDAR HB 134 "An Act relating to temporary transfers of commercial fisheries entry permits." HELD IN COMMITTEE FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION *HB 218 "An Act repealing the restriction on the maximum length of salmon seine vessels; and providing for an effective date." HELD IN COMMITTEE FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION (* first public hearing) WITNESS REGISTER Alvin Osterback P.O. Box 188 Sand Point, AK 99661 Phone: 383-2363 Position Statement: Supported HB 134; Opposed HB 218 Joe McGill P.O. Box 322 Dillingham, AK 99576 Phone: 842-2452 Position Statement: Supported HB 134 Robin Samuelson P.O. Box 412 Dillingham, AK 99576 Phone: 842-5257 Position Statement: Supported HB 134; Opposed HB 218 Norman Anderson General Delivery Naknek, AK 99633 Phone: 246-4423 Position Statement: Supported HB 134 Adelheid Herrmann P.O. Box 263 Naknek, AK 99633 Phone: 246-6618 Position Statement: Supported HB 134 Richard Listowski, Commissioner Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission 8800 Glacier Highway, Suite 109 Juneau, AK 99801-8079 Phone: 789-6160 Position Statement: Opposed HB 134 Jeff Meucci P.O. Box 1086 Petersburg, AK 99833 Phone: 772-4669 Position Statement: Opposed HB 134 Jack Foster P.O. Box 254 Sand Point, AK 99661 Phone: 383-3633 Position Statement: Supported HB 134; Opposed HB 218 Stan Chmiel General Delivery Naknek, AK 99633 Phone: 246-4243 Position Statement: Supported HB 134 with amendments Mike Lopez P.O. Box 636 Valdez, AK 99686 Phone: 835-2396 Position Statement: Supported HB 134; Supported HB 218 Kate Troll, Executive Director Southeast Alaska Seiners Association 9226 Long Run Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 789-5117 Position Statement: Supported CSHB 218 (FSH) Elma Angasan General Delivery King Salmon, AK 99613 Phone: 246-7483 Position Statement: Supported HB 134 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 134 SHORT TITLE: TEMP TRANSFER OF ENTRY PERMITS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MOSES TITLE: "An Act relating to temporary transfers of commercial fisheries entry permits." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/05/93 236 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/05/93 236 (H) FISHERIES, RESOURCES, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 02/15/93 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 02/17/93 (H) FSH AT 09:00 AM CAPITOL 17 03/22/93 (H) FSH AT 08:30 AM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 218 SHORT TITLE: REPEAL 58 FT. LIMIT FOR SEINE VESSELS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MOSES TITLE: "An Act repealing the restriction on the maximum length of salmon seine vessels; and providing for an effective date." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/10/93 592 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 03/10/93 592 (H) FISHERIES, RESOURCES 03/22/93 (H) FSH AT 08:30 AM CAPITOL 17 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-13, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN CARL MOSES called the meeting to order at 8:35 a.m. He noted Representatives Moses, Olberg and Phillips in attendance and said the meeting would begin by bringing up once again HB 134 and then hearing HB 218. HB 134: TEMP TRANSFER OF ENTRY PERMITS CHAIRMAN MOSES reminded the committee they had already taken testimony on HB 134 and had before them a proposed Committee Substitute (CSHB 134 (FSH)) which would limit the temporary transfer of entry permits to immediate family only. The last section of the proposed CS includes a non-severability clause, which basically means if one of the provisions of the bill gets challenged in court and thrown out, the whole program gets voided. Number 120 ALVIN OSTERBACK testified in favor of HB 134. He noted at this time only wealthy people, such as doctors and lawyers, could afford to buy limited entry permits, resulting in permits leaving the local communities. He believed HB 134 could help with that situation. JOE MCGILL spoke in favor of HB 134 because it was a way to keep permits in the local region. ROBIN SAMUELSON also supported HB 134 because elders were being forced to sell their permits, and HB 134 is a way to let the younger members of the family obtain them, thus keeping permits in Alaska and in the villages. CHAIRMAN MOSES noted CSHB 134 (FSH) would limit the transfer to immediate family members only. NORMAN ANDERSON testified in favor of HB 134, referring to the high level of out-migration of permits which results in a loss of income to the villages. Since current law requires the permit holder to be on-site at the fishery, elders' lives are being endangered, he said. ADELHEID HERRMANN spoke in favor of HB 134 because the existing regulation on medical transfers prohibits a continuing disability, keeping many elders out of the limited entry program. She noted most fishermen and elder Natives did not have a retirement system. She questioned the constitutionality of limiting the transfer to family members as proposed in CSHB 134 (FSH). RICHARD LISTOWSKI, COMMISSIONER, COMMERCIAL FISHERIES ENTRY COMMISSION (CFEC), reminded the committee of the CFEC's opposition to HB 134, although the new amendments in the proposed CSHB 134 (FSH) improve the bill. He explained how the bill would create a special class of people that would be exempted from the limited entry statute's anti-leasing provision. He argued that it would make enforcement of the anti-leasing provision difficult. REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS asked if the lease would "go up for grabs" if the permit-holder died. MR. LISTOWSKI responded that under current law, the permit would go to the spouse of the permit-holder or to the person indicated in the will, or whatever the court directed. If the person is not 65 and is not disabled, the person could not continue leasing it, he said. CHAIRMAN MOSES asked about the possibility of removing the anti-leasing provision in the limited entry statute. MR. LISTOWSKI asked the committee to look at section 7 in the findings of HB 134, which indicates that annual leasing of permits would be destructive to the commercial fishing industry. Even with the restrictions on who could transfer their permit, the bill would still create a class of absentee permit holders, especially of non-residents. MR. LISTOWSKI also described recent advertisements he has seen for brokers in Seattle who are interested in benefitting financially from such a program. For example, one broker was offering $30,000 up front to broker a medical transfer for a Bristol Bay permit. Although he understood the problems that elderly people have, MR. LISTOWSKI said there are some long range impacts that must be considered before final action is taken. MR. LISTOWSKI declared HB 134 is intended to help young people, but once you allow leasing, people want to lease to whomever can pay the highest price, and these are not necessarily the young people. He also argued that HB 134 would drive up the cost of permits, since for many people, it would make more sense to hold on to a permit and lease it, rather than transferring it. This would result in making it harder for young people to get into the fishery. MR. LISTOWSKI also noted the existence of a Commercial Fisheries and Agriculture Bank (CFAB) program that would assist younger people in buying permits. VICE CHAIR HARLEY OLBERG questioned the CFEC's chart detailing the medical emergency transfer activity. MR. LISTOWSKI replied that emergency medical transfers included heart attacks, broken legs, pressing family business, and National Guard duty. He noted most emergency transfers happen in a day, some have been turned down and appealed. Medical transfers are verified by a doctor. VICE CHAIR OLBERG asked if such a transfer could be taken by an out-of-state resident. MR. LISTOWSKI acknowledged almost anyone 65 or older could get a doctor's letter. VICE CHAIR OLBERG questioned why the medical transfer program was insufficient. MR. LISTOWSKI pointed out the medical reason for an emergency transfer can only be used for one year. If HB 134 passes, the permit holder would not have to come back to the CFEC, and the emergency transfer could be done for the rest of the holder's life. CHAIRMAN MOSES had further questions about the medical transfer. MR. LISTOWSKI reiterated the medical transfer is only good for one year. He described a woman in Bristol Bay, in her mid- 30s, who has severe arthritis, and can only get the transfer for one year. She would like to see HB 134 extended to include those below 65 years of age. MR. LISTOWSKI also explained that the CFEC was more lenient 10 years ago and allowed for the medical reason to be used for two years. However, he said the CFEC discovered that a lot of the emergency transfers were actually leases, and the program became difficult to enforce. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked if it was not possible for a permit holder to just be on the boat and have someone else do the work. MR. LISTOWSKI replied in the affirmative, adding the permit holder has to be physically present when fish are sold. CHAIRMAN MOSES interjected it might still be dangerous for someone with severe arthritis to actually be on the boat. MR. LISTOWSKI acknowledged these concerns, but noted sometimes when you try to fix a problem, you create more problems than you solve. JEFF MEUCCI, a Bristol Bay fisherman living in Petersburg, testified in opposition to HB 134. He said although the intent is good, it would open the door for potential abuse. He expressed concern about tight budgets for the affected departments, and that passing a law which would require more enforcement did not make sense. JACK FOSTER testified in support of HB 134 because it would allow old-timers to have a retirement fund, and it would help keep permits in the state. MR. FOSTER indicated his opposition to HB 218, because taking the limit off seiners would open a new can of worms. The price of boats is already declining, he said, and HB 218 would result in a mad scramble for everyone to get a bigger boat. Most of the time, the boats used now are pretty adequate, he believed. Number 650 STAN CHMIEL commented on section 8 of HB 134, which would require a permit holder to have been a fisherman for 10 years or more to qualify for the temporary transfer program. He said the original draft looked like it was trying to cut old-timers out, but this draft looked okay. MR. LISTOWSKI informed the committee 79% of permit holders are residents, and the ratio has been stable since the program's inception in 1975. Many of the permits left the villages in the early days, he said, but not as many now. TAPE 93-13, SIDE B Number 000 MR. LISTOWSKI indicated the main shift in permits is from rural to more urban areas. ADELHEID HERRMANN asked Mr. Listowski if the CFEC planned to make the emergency medical transfer more lenient. MR. LISTOWSKI replied that the CFEC has tried to bend over backwards to issue emergency transfers, especially if it involved family members, although he was open to suggested improvements. He once again mentioned the CFAB program, which is a risk-sharing program to help rural Alaskans. No one has yet taken advantage of this program, he pointed out. HB 134 WAS HELD IN COMMITTEE FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION. HB 218: REPEAL 58 FT. LIMIT FOR SEINE VESSELS CHAIRMAN MOSES opened up testimony on HB 218. MIKE LOPEZ testified in support of HB 134 first, and also in support of HB 218, explaining that if a person can buy a bigger boat, they should be able to. With one boat you can do a lot more fishing, he said. CHAIRMAN MOSES clarified the committee had a proposed committee substitute (CSHB 218 (FSH)) which would have the Board of Fisheries decide on the length restrictions for any region of the state. ROBIN SAMUELSON testified in opposition to HB 218. As a member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries from 1989 to 1991, he said he heard a lot of testimony from people across the state. Most people are happy with the seine limit, he believed. People want stability in their fisheries, he noted, and since most fisheries are over-capitalized anyway, repealing the 58 foot limit would add more uncertainty. For the sake of stability, he would oppose any change. KATE TROLL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTHEAST ALASKA SEINERS ASSOCIATION, testified in support of the proposed CSHB 218 (FSH). She said her executive committee supported the committee substitute because the seine vessel length is the only length in statute. The 32 foot Bristol Bay limit is a Board of Fish regulation. This is a board of fish matter, she said, not a legislative matter. She acknowledged she did not know whether or not Southeast seiners would want the length restriction changed. Some are interested, she said, because there is no place on a boat now for extra crew to do value-added work. MS. TROLL advised another concern her group had was that taking off the limit would lower the value of the current 58 foot boats. This discussion, she further stated, would come out before the Board of Fish on a region by region basis. The way the legislation is written, she pointed out, it dovetails when the Board takes up Southeast issues, but language to keep the limit in place until the Board of Fish cycle reaches each region might be desirable. ALVIN OSTERBACK testified in opposition to HB 218, claiming the bill would result in dropping the price of limited seiners. He asked who would gain from the bill. On HB 134, MR. OSTERBACK testified he would be 79 years old in January, 1994, and hoped HB 134 would be passed so he could use it. ELMA ANGASAN testified in support of HB 134, calling it a good bill, although it doesn't address all of her concerns. HB 218 WAS HELD FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN CARL MOSES adjourned the meeting at 9:45 a.m.