Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/05/1995 06:06 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                             
                         April 5, 1995                                         
                           6:06 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Alan Austerman, Chairman                                       
 Representative Carl Moses, Vice Chair                                         
 Representative Scott Ogan                                                     
 Representative Gary Davis                                                     
 Representative Kim Elton                                                      
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 HB 265:    "An Act relating to the export of live dungeness                   
            HEARD AND HELD                                                     
 *HB 256:   "An Act authorizing the commissioner of fish and game to           
            establish free sport fishing days."                                
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
 HJR 38:    Relating to reauthorization of the Magnuson Fishery                
            Conservation and Management Act.                                   
            SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                            
 HB 284:    "An Act relating to the Alaska Commercial Fishing and              
            Agriculture Bank."                                                 
            BILL POSTPONED                                                     
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KELLY                                                     
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 513                                                    
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
 Phone: 465-2327                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime Sponsor of HB 256                                  
 JOHN BURKE, Acting Director                                                   
 Division of Sport Fish                                                        
 Alaska Department of Fish & Game                                              
 P.O. Box 25526                                                                
 Juneau, AK  99802-5526                                                        
 Phone:  465-6187                                                              
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 256                                         
 PETE ECKLUND, Administrative Assistant                                        
 Representative Bill Williams                                                  
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 128                                                    
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
 Phone: 465-3424                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Staff to Prime Sponsor of HB 265                         
 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison                                              
 Department of Fish and Game                                                   
 P.O. Box 25526                                                                
 Juneau, AK  99811-5526                                                        
 Phone: 465-6143                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 265 as amended                              
 CHERYL SUTTON, Administrative Assistant                                       
 Representative Carl Moses                                                     
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 204                                                    
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
 Phone: 465-6848                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided information on HB 265                           
 DON MUNHOVEN                                                                  
 P.O. Box 6335                                                                 
 Ketchikan, AK  99901                                                          
 Phone: 225-5328                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 265                                         
 PATRICK KRISTOVICH                                                            
 P.O. Box 23038                                                                
 Ketchikan, AK  99901                                                          
 Phone: None provided                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 265                                         
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 265                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: EXPORT OF DUNGENESS CRAB                                         
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) WILLIAMS                                        
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 03/17/95       778    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/17/95       778    (H)   FSH, RESOURCES                                    
 03/22/95              (H)   RES AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 124                       
 03/22/95              (H)   MINUTE(RES)                                       
 03/29/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 04/05/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 BILL:  HB 256                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: FREE SPORT FISHING DAYS                                          
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) KELLY,Austerman                                 
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 03/15/95       742    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/15/95       742    (H)   FISHERIES, RESOURCES, FINANCE                     
 03/29/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 04/05/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 BILL:  HJR 38                                                                
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) AUSTERMAN,Navarre,Grussendorf                   
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 03/24/95       895    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/24/95       895    (H)   FSH, RESOURCES                                    
 04/05/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 BILL:  HB 284                                                               
 SPONSOR(S): SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                    
 JRN-DATE     JRN-DATE             ACTION                                      
 03/27/95       933    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/27/95       933    (H)   FSH, LABOR & COMMERCE, FINANCE                    
 04/05/95              (H)   FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-21, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN ALAN AUSTERMAN called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.              
 and noted for the record Representatives Davis, Ogan, Moses and               
 Elton were in attendance and that a quorum was present.                       
 HB 256 - FREE SPORT FISHING DAYS                                            
 Number 013                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KELLY, PRIME SPONSOR, HB 256, testified, "This            
 is a fairly simple bill.  It establishes a free fishing day in this           
 state.  It directs the commissioner to appoint not more than two              
 days in which fishing can be participated in by the general public            
 without actually purchasing a license.  The idea is just to promote           
 the idea of fishing and one would hope it would get more people               
 involved in it and they'll buy more licenses and we'll be able to             
 manage our fishing resources even better. "                                   
 Number 036                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS said, "I live on the Kenai River and I'm            
 wondering if you have a companion bill that discourages people from           
 fishing on certain days. (Laughter ensued.)  I don't know is there            
 something out there that says people need to generate more interest           
 in sport fishing?"                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE KELLY said, "Forty four other states, I believe it             
 is, have this program.  That doesn't necessarily mean that we                 
 should have it but it's just considered a fun thing that people can           
 participate in and enjoy our natural resources even more than they            
 do now."                                                                      
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN added that there are programs teaching children            
 to fish and it was this association which led him to sign on as               
 cosponsor to HB 256.                                                          
 Number 082                                                                    
 JOHN BURKE, Director, Division of Sport Fish, Department of Fish              
 and Game (ADF&G), testified in support of HB 256.  He said, "Free             
 fishing days offer people who do not ordinarily fish the                      
 opportunity to experience sportfishing without the associated                 
 expense of buying a license.  A free fishing day in conjunction               
 with National Fishing Week activities, or winter fishing carnivals,           
 can certainly introduce or reacquaint people who otherwise wouldn't           
 have taken the opportunity.  He added, "Free fishing days primarily           
 serve for us as an effective centerpiece for department sponsored             
 or assisted aquatic education activities.  These programs primarily           
 focus on conservation concepts.  They focus on young people who               
 aren't familiar with fishing and they focus on angler ethics.  A              
 free fishing day serves as an attractant to bring people into these           
 MR. BURKE continued, "In Alaska, there's a number of family fishing           
 days that are held in the present time with these activities.                 
 There are fairly large ones in Juneau and Fairbanks and Ketchikan,            
 on Prince of Wales Island.  There may be others throughout the                
 state also."  He added, "They've used these activities to promote             
 a number of things and obviously the war on drugs is something                
 everybody is very familiar with: `Hooked on Fish, not on Drugs.'"             
 He then described some of the educational concepts and processes.             
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN pointed out, "The family that slays together,             
 stays together."                                                              
 Number 223                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS moved that HB 256 be moved from committee with           
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections.                        
 HB 265 - EXPORT OF DUNGENESS CRAB                                           
 PETE ECKLUND, Administrative Assistant to Representative Bill                 
 Williams, testified, "Plain and simple HB 265 is an economic                  
 development bill.  Representative Williams introduced this bill in            
 response to a constituent who was struggling to develop a live crab           
 market in British Columbia.  Currently, if you have an established            
 out-of-state live dungeness market, you are required by law to ship           
 your product through the air.  Air transportation of live crab is             
 tricky and, in many cases, cost prohibitive.  As we all know, there           
 are frequent weather and other delay problems associated with                 
 flying in Alaska.  These problems don't particularly lend                     
 themselves to crab surviving the journey to the marketplace.                  
 Despite these obstacles, air transportation is the only way to get            
 live crab to markets which are many miles away.  There are markets            
 which are much nearer to Alaska that could be developed if the cost           
 of air transportation wasn't involved."   Representative Williams             
 has constituents that are trying to make in-roads into the British            
 Columbia live dungeness market.  Requiring them to airfreight their           
 catch to either Prince Rupert or Seattle has a crippling effect on            
 their ability to capture a place in the growing B.C. market.  HB              
 265 would remove the air transportation only restriction when                 
 shipping live dungeness crab out of state.  This would allow                  
 entrepreneurs to use other means when transporting dungeness crab             
 to the nearby markets of B.C.  Lifting the restriction is                     
 beneficial for a couple of different reasons.  First, it would                
 lower costs.  Second, it could improve the survivability of the               
 product on its way to market.  Passage of HB 265 is just one small            
 step we can take to help Alaskans better compete in the                       
 international marketplace."                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON asked, "I noticed in the position paper              
 they said, `If you're doing this for dungeness, why not do it for             
 king and tanner?'  Did the sponsor think about that?"                         
 MR. ECKLUND responded, "We were, first of all, concerned just with            
 the dungeness crab because that's who our constituency was, that's            
 the market that they can access is the dungeness crab market.  And            
 B.C. is close.  So there's an advantage by maybe doing it by vessel           
 transportation or road through Hyder, possibly.  So we didn't feel            
 necessarily that we had to lift the other restrictions also.  But,            
 Fish and Game did recommend that possibly doing that, they didn't             
 see any problem with it.  We've been checking around trying to see            
 if there will be any opposition to that and it's my understanding             
 that there may be some processors that have some initial                      
 apprehension with that but I don't know, if we lifted the ban on              
 king crab, if somebody in the Aleutians would necessarily be able             
 to transport by boat to Japan, or to wherever.  I don't know if               
 that is feasible, just because of the miles that would have to be             
 traveled.  So I don't know if some of those processor's concerns              
 are valid or not."                                                            
 Number 300                                                                    
 MR. ECKLUND continued, "Our office got a call from the Department             
 of Law last Friday and I believe there's a memo in your packet from           
 the Department of Law that kind of deals with that.  I guess the              
 statute in the books pertaining to the restriction is from the late           
 60s and there's interstate commerce laws that came into effect                
 after that and the whole statute may be in conflict with the                  
 interstate commerce laws that are on the books.  I guess up to this           
 date, nobody has challenged that law in court and in the Department           
 of Law's memo they state that the state of Alaska may have a                  
 defense if it wants to continue the restriction, may have a defense           
 in the area of health and safety concerns.  But they recommended,             
 it kind of seems the Department of Law stated that dungeness crab             
 possibly has the most concern for PSP and other health and safety             
 issues and if we lifted the restriction for dungeness crab only               
 would weaken the possible defense for health and safety reasons."             
 Number 328                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN expressed concern that not all crab would be              
 reported by an exporter.                                                      
 MR. ECKLUND indicated that there is a monitoring procedure in place           
 "and if somebody wanted to skirt around those, they would take the            
 risk of getting caught."                                                      
 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, ADF&G, "I really don't think this           
 is any different than the situation we have now where you have                
 people air freighting salmon, for example, out of the state to                
 markets in Seattle or other places during the season.  They're                
 required, before you directly market fish out of the state, you               
 have to comply with a number of steps and we've had very good                 
 compliance with that.  In fact, the Department of Revenue, I                  
 believe in 1991, did an actual study of the fish tax and found that           
 the compliance was extremely high.  And one of the things they have           
 to do is file with the Department of Fish and Game.  We have to get           
 the fish tickets.  They have to prepay a certain amount of tax.               
 There are a number of protections in place.  And in the case of the           
 export of salmon from the state by catcher-processors, which has              
 become very common in the last ten years because of the poor salmon           
 prices in some seasons, so some fishermen are trying to go directly           
 to markets."                                                                  
 Number 374                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if a crab fisherman couldn't simply sell            
 crab off the dock in British Columbia.                                        
 MR. ECKLUND indicated that crab fisherman would have to obtain a              
 processor's license and meet a bonding requirement to sell that               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if the intent was to sell the crab to              
 processors or "grocery stores" in Canada.  He added, "Are we                  
 displacing product that would otherwise go to Alaska processors?"             
 MR. ECKLUND deferred to the teleconference participants and added             
 that there are currently no crab processors in Ketchikan and some             
 prevailing reluctance to participate in the live crab market due to           
 high air transportation costs and the mortality risk.                         
 Number 414                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked, "Is there no live market because DEC is           
 requiring that the crab be sectioned because of PSP?"                         
 MR. ECKLUND said he didn't believe DEC was the problem, just                  
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON pursued, "So if in fact DEC had restrictions             
 on the export of live crab due to PSP concerns, those restrictions            
 would apply whether the live crab were being sent to Prince Rupert            
 or being sent to Seattle?"                                                    
 MR. ECKLUND replied, "It's my understanding that the way the                  
 process works with DEC and PSP reporting is that fishermen send in            
 samples from the fishing grounds to DEC.  They test for PSP.  They            
 test for other things other than PSP also.  It takes less than 24             
 hours.  They get that information back to the fishing grounds                 
 whether that area is acceptable or not. (Indisc.)  And if it comes            
 back that it's not acceptable, then the fishermen are not supposed            
 sell crab from that area."                                                    
 MR. BRUCE concurred and said, "The problem with PSP and dungeness             
 crab was only recently identified as a problem and it exists only             
 in certain parts of the crab and it's on an area specific basis the           
 way it's been handled as far as prohibiting the sale of live crab.            
 They sample the crab, find out if there is a problem and then                 
 prohibit live sale."                                                          
 Number 436                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MOSES said shipping live crab out of Dutch Harbor              
 has been a real problem because the only place they can be tested             
 is a lab in Palmer.                                                           
 CHERYL SUTTON, Administrative Assistant to Representative Moses,              
 interjected, "They do test.  They test by different species and               
 it's broken out by area, in the state.  They take, from vessels,              
 directly and they've a very small sample base and it's a little bit           
 of a problem right now for live shippers because they sample in,              
 the product goes to Palmer, it is not turned around in 24 hours.              
 Frequently, it's delayed sometimes up to several weeks.  In the               
 meantime, as you know, a fishery is a short execution."  She added,           
 "One person we're dealing with in particular, is a shipper who does           
 not have a processing license so she is not able to take crab she             
 has purchased live with the intent to ship live. (Indisc.)  So for            
 her, it's a matter of commerce but it's not because of the cost of            
 shipping live crab which she has a huge market in Japan for live              
 crab.  It's because the PSP margin program and the inadequacies of            
 the data collection and the turnaround for the data collection.               
 I'm working on this now.  DEC is attempting to change the program             
 but I can see that they could have problems with live vessel                  
 transports with the current monitoring program but they're hoping             
 to work some of these things out."                                            
 Number 470                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN said these issues should be addressed by DEC,              
 although there was not an agency representative present, and voiced           
 concern about the contents of the Attorney General's letter.                  
 DON MUNHOVEN testified via teleconference from Ketchikan saying,              
 "I'm a licensed processor and I've developed some markets here in             
 town for live shrimp and live crab down in Canada, down in British            
 Columbia and this is a problem we've run into.  The last two years            
 we've been shipping live, running our own live shrimp or prawns               
 down to Prince Rupert and then they truck them down to Vancouver.             
 And they also truck crab down from Prince Rupert down to Vancouver.           
 So that developed a different idea here.  We're trying to develop             
 different markets for fishermen here in Ketchikan and so we looked            
 into it and looked into it and ran into a little glitch here on               
 this law that we're trying to change to be able to transport or be            
 able to buy crab from the local fishermen and create markets and be           
 able to transport them live by boat."  He then cited the expense of           
 packaging materials and mortality problems.  He added, "Before you            
 even take any fish out of the state, you have to go through customs           
 and then you go and go through customs through British Columbia, or           
 through Canada and they give you an inspection.  They check your              
 vessel and you have to have a landing permit before you can even              
 deliver crab, or any kind of seafood and then when you come back,             
 you come back to customs, deliver your fish tickets, your permits,            
 the whole nine yards so they really keep a close eye on how many              
 pounds you deliver, how many pounds you pick up or buy.  If I buy             
 crab, I have to check with customs here before I even go to                   
 Number 545                                                                    
 PAT KRISTOVICH, testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, he               
 said, "They don't have a DEC problem down there (Canada) with the             
 testing of crab.  (Indisc.)  We don't have a market, we're a                  
 limited market here.  One year we came in here and Silver Lining              
 was supposed to buy our crab.  We came in with 1800 crab and they             
 said they're not going to buy them.  We ended up putting 700 back             
 loose, overboard. (Indisc.)  We have one market here and you can              
 flood that.  You can't take care of two boats with any amount of              
 crab.  Right now the Canadians are fishing on the grounds that we             
 were fishing at.  In fact I picked up 70 Canadian pots on the                 
 American side a week ago and they had 690 softshell and female crab           
 that the Vietnamese are fishing down and them people don't throw              
 anything back.  So apparently the Canadian government doesn't care            
 about undersides or softshell.  We're limited, we can't do this.              
 Our season closes the 28th and they don't have a season over there.           
 All I'm trying to say is, we're not looking for a longer season,              
 we're just looking for another market."                                       
 Number 574                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if shipping crab on a boat would be less            
 ideal than airfreighting.                                                     
 MR. KRISTOVICH explained the cost of the boxes, shipping material,            
 handling and travel to the airport and the odds of getting the crab           
 "bumped."  He said, "From where I'm fishing on the grounds, it's              
 only a five and a half to six hour run to Prince Rupert."                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked about the time when Mr. Kristovich                 
 brought 1800 crab into Ketchikan but the processor wouldn't buy               
 them.  He said, "When that happened, do you know whether there were           
 DEC regs in place that required sectioning because of PSP?                    
 MR. KRISTOVICH said it was because of the DEC-PCP scare up north              
 that the processor did not want to purchase the crab.  He added,              
 "They still won't have anything to do with them down here (in                 
 Number 612                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS pointed out that for the Ketchikan area, this            
 legislation makes more sense due to its proximity to the Canadian             
 market versus other areas where nothing but air transport would be            
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN said he did not want to open "pandora's box" by            
 isolating dungeness crab.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON voiced concern that all crab transported by              
 boat need and might not get the PCP tests by DEC.                             
 Number 642                                                                    
 MR. ECKLUND said he thought that samples are sent in from each open           
 crabbing grounds.                                                             
 MR. BRUCE added, "There is also preseason testing of (crabbing)               
 areas that occurs."                                                           
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN pointed out this bill could move to Resources              
 for further scrutiny.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE MOSES asked if this restriction was removed on king            
 crab, if it would be difficult to control in the Bering Sea "where            
 they were hauling to Japan."                                                  
 Number 696                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE said, "If a catcher vessel were marketing its own product           
 and taking it directly to Japan.  They would have to have to go               
 through the same hoops that Mr. Munhoven described earlier.  They             
 would have to get a processors license, they would have to file all           
 this paperwork, and they would have to report.  They would have to            
 go through the same hoops.  Whether or not there would be a greater           
 margin for someone to not report in that kind of situation where              
 they're taking it to Japan, I can only speculate."                            
 REPRESENTATIVE MOSES said, "I can just envision a little black                
 market starting up," and asked if this was a far-fetched notion.              
 MR. BRUCE said, "I think administratively you could develop some of           
 them (controls) if you felt it was necessary.  He then described              
 the differences between the king and dungeness crab fisheries.                
 TAPE 95-21, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 005                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN suggested HB 265 not move but be fully explored           
 here in the Fisheries Committee.                                              
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN agreed and adjourned the meeting at 6:50 p.m.              

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