Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/11/1996 05:05 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                             
                         April 11, 1996                                        
                           5:05 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Alan Austerman, Chairman                                       
 Representative Carl Moses, Vice Chairman                                      
 Representative Scott Ogan                                                     
 Representative Gary Davis                                                     
 Representative Kim Elton                                                      
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 All members were present.                                                     
 OTHER HOUSE MEMBERS PRESENT                                                   
 Representative David Finkelstein                                              
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 42 am                                  
 "An Act allowing a person to hold more than one entry permit for              
 certain fisheries and amending the definition of `unit of gear' for           
 purposes of the commercial fisheries limited entry program; and               
 providing for an effective date."                                             
      -  PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                               
 BY DAVID BENTON, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                  
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  SB 42                                                                
 SHORT TITLE: LIMITED ENTRY & UNITS OF GEAR                                    
 SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) TAYLOR                                                 
 JRN-DATE     JRN-DATE             ACTION                                      
 01/23/95        71    (S)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/23/95        71    (S)   RES, FIN                                          
 02/06/95              (S)   RES AT  3:30 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205                
 02/06/95              (S)   MINUTE(RES)                                       
 02/06/95              (S)   MINUTE(RES)                                       
 02/06/95              (S)   MINUTE(RES)                                       
 03/18/96      2774    (S)   SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED -                   
 03/18/96      2775    (S)   RESOURCES                                         
 03/27/96              (S)   RES AT  3:30 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205                
 03/28/96      2938    (S)   RES RPT  1DP 3NR                                  
 03/28/96      2938    (S)   ZERO FISCAL NOTE  (F&G)                           
 03/29/96              (S)   RLS AT 12:05 PM FAHRENKAMP RM 203                 
 04/02/96      3013    (S)   RULES TO CALENDAR  4/2/96                         
 04/02/96      3015    (S)   READ THE SECOND TIME                              
 04/02/96      3015    (S)   AM NO  1     MOVED BY TAYLOR                      
 04/02/96      3015    (S)   AM NO  1     ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                 
 04/02/96      3016    (S)   ADVANCED TO THIRD READING                         
                             UNAN CONSENT                                      
 04/02/96      3016    (S)   READ THE THIRD TIME  SSSB 42 AM                   
 04/02/96      3016    (S)   PASSED Y20 N-                                     
 04/02/96      3016    (S)   EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE                 
 04/02/96      3030    (S)   TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                
 04/03/96      3615    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 04/03/96      3615    (H)   FISHERIES, RESOURCES                              
 04/10/96              (H)   FSH AT  5:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 04/10/96              (H)   MINUTE(FSH)                                       
 04/11/96              (H)   FSH AT  5:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 ROBIN TAYLOR, Senator                                                         
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol Building, Room 30                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3873                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented sponsor statement on SB 42.                    
 FRANK HOMAN, Commissioner                                                     
 Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission                                         
 8800 Glacier Highway, Suite 109                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-8079                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 789-6160                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided commission's position and answered              
                      questions regarding SB 42.                               
 OTTO FLORSHUTZ                                                                
 P.O. Box 547                                                                  
 Wrangell, Alaska  99929                                                       
 Telephone:  (907) 874-2522 (message)                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed SB 42 as written.                                
 JOHN JENSEN                                                                   
 P.O. Box 681                                                                  
 Petersburg, Alaska  99833                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 772-4635                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 42.                                         
 LIZ CABRERA, Director                                                         
 Petersburg Vessel Owners Association                                          
 P.O. Box 232                                                                  
 Petersburg, Alaska 99833                                                      
 Telephone:  (907) 772-9323                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 42.                                         
 BILL FLOR, President                                                          
 Southeast Dungeness Crab Association                                          
 Petersburg, Alaska  99833                                                     
 (NO ADDRESS OR TELEPHONE NUMBER PROVIDED)                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 42.                                         
 BILL ALWERT                                                                   
 P.O. Box 1711                                                                 
 Kodiak, Alaska  99615                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 486-5511                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Asked question regarding SB 42.                          
 DAVID BENTON, Deputy Commissioner                                             
 Department of Fish and Game                                                   
 P.O. Box 25526                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska  99811-5526                                                    
 Telephone:  (907) 465-6136                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented update on Alaska's outstanding legal           
                      issues concerning fisheries.                             
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 96-17, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 0001                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN ALAN AUSTERMAN called the House Special Committee on                 
 Fisheries meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. and noted there was a                 
 quorum.  Members present at the call to order were Representatives            
 Austerman, Moses and Elton.  Representatives Davis and Ogan joined            
 the meeting at 5:10 p.m. and 5:32 p.m., respectively.                         
 SB 42 - LIMITED ENTRY & UNITS OF GEAR                                       
 Number 0041                                                                   
 SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR, sponsor of SB 42, described the bill as "the            
 second shoe to drop".  A bill he sponsored the previous year,                 
 identical to one sponsored by Representative Grussendorf, had                 
 provided the beginning of a limited entry system in the dungeness             
 crab fishery.  Senator Taylor recalled a flood of entrants came               
 into Alaska from Oregon and Washington, resulting in doubling and             
 redoubling of the numbers of participants.  "Finally, after some              
 years where the economics of that over-extended fishery began to              
 take their toll, and we saw the numbers of permits beginning to               
 level off and come down, we felt it was probably a good time to               
 initiate this tiered system," Senator Taylor said.                            
 Number 0144                                                                   
 SENATOR TAYLOR explained there was insufficient time the previous             
 year to accomplish a title change.  "The title had been written too           
 tightly and, as a consequence, we were unable to put the stacking             
 provisions within the title," he stated.  "The tiered system that             
 was created creates four different levels of gear involvement in              
 the fishery, starting at 300 pots at the top, which would be a                
 Class A permit, going down to a 75-pot limit, which would be a                
 Class D ... permit."                                                          
 Number 0202                                                                   
 SENATOR TAYLOR indicated the legislation allowed the stacking of              
 two permits, so that a person with 75 pots, for example, could                
 purchase a 225-pot or Class B permit and put themselves at the 300-           
 pot limit.  "By limiting it to two permits, you would not end up              
 eliminating all of the smaller, entry-level permits," he said,                
 indicating there had been serious concern that economics might                
 quickly generate only Class A or B permits, eliminating an entrance           
 level for new participants.                                                   
 Number 0348                                                                   
 FRANK HOMAN, Commissioner, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission              
 (CFEC), commented that Senator Taylor had provided a good summation           
 and offered to answer questions.                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON asked how long it would take to develop              
 the regulations.                                                              
 MR. HOMAN replied it was hard to say.  However, he estimated                  
 approximately six months.  It would not be the current season, he             
 said, but rather the 1997 season, at least, because permanent                 
 permits would be required before CFEC could allow stacking them               
 Number 0421                                                                   
 OTTO FLORSHUTZ testified via teleconference from Wrangell, saying             
 he opposed SB 42 as written, although modification had made it more           
 to his liking.  He believed access to the fishery by smaller or               
 younger operators was highly important.  However, the timing of the           
 bill was bad.  The tiered limited entry system was not to be                  
 implemented until June 1997.  "While the resource is healthy, there           
 are some other things seeking to destroy this fishery," he said.              
 Mr. Florshutz referred to a meeting in October 1995, at which the             
 Board of Fisheries postponed a decision to cut pot levels by one-             
 third and directed the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to                 
 develop a comprehensive management plan for the 1997 meeting                  
 schedule.  The board had forewarned crabbers to get their facts and           
 figures together if they hoped to defeat this management plan.                
 "Fish and Game's position was clear," Mr. Florshutz said.  "The               
 45,000-pot tiered limited entry system plan was too much."  He                
 suggested ADF&G would have lots of charts and graphs to prove the             
 imminent destruction of the resource under the current and past               
 management plans.                                                             
 MR. FLORSHUTZ said it was uncertain how many permits would be                 
 issued or pots fished.  He suggested up to 58 interim permits could           
 be issued.  "This bill would ensure that all unfished gears would             
 be bought, stacked and then aggressively fished," he said.  "This             
 type of maximization of fishing effort at this time is dangerous in           
 regard to the Board of Fish[eries] decision.  This bill could work            
 if amended to read that any gears transferred would sunset or                 
 forfeit one-third of the pot allotment.  This would ensure some               
 future gear reductions and demonstrate so to the board.  For                  
 example, 150-pot gear sold becomes 100 pots transferred and 50                
 forfeited.  That would be a one-time only.  But, this bill, if                
 passed as written, may be like getting a raise the day before your            
 boss fires you."                                                              
 Number 0617                                                                   
 JOHN JENSEN testified via teleconference from Petersburg, saying              
 simply that he supported SB 42.                                               
 Number 0632                                                                   
 LIZ CABRERA, Director, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association,                  
 testified via teleconference in support of SB 42.  She referred to            
 the tiered system and said it gave current dungeness participants             
 an opportunity to make their operations more economically viable              
 without increasing the number of pots in the fishery, while                   
 allowing new participants.  By limiting the number of permits per             
 individual to two, the bill guaranteed that smaller permits could             
 not be consolidated into 300-pot blocks.                                      
 Number 0698                                                                   
 BILL FLOR, President, Southeast Dungeness Crabbers Association,               
 testified via teleconference from Petersburg.  He said the bill was           
 a compromise that his organization supported, primarily because it            
 allowed for an entry level permit.                                            
 Number  0730                                                                  
 BILL ALWERT spoke via teleconference from Kodiak, asking if the               
 bill had any bearing on Kodiak.  He noted there was no limited                
 entry there yet.                                                              
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN indicated he understood that it did not                    
 currently pertain to Kodiak.  He asked if there was further                   
 testimony or discussion by the committee.                                     
 Number 0812                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON moved that SSSB 42 (am) move from committee              
 with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal notes.               
 There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                  
 BY DAVID BENTON, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                 
 Number 0841                                                                   
 DAVID BENTON, Deputy Commission, Department of Fish and Game                  
 (ADF&G), explained he was Alaska's commissioner for the Pacific               
 Salmon Commission.  He noted that Marty Weinstein from the                    
 Department of Law and Kevin Duffy, Co-Chair of the Northern Panel,            
 from ADF&G, were available for questions.  Mr. Benton furnished               
 hand-outs to the committee.                                                   
 MR. BENTON provided a detailed history.  In 1985, Alaska was in a             
 precarious position, with tribes in Washington and Oregon                     
 threatening litigation to extend the Boldt decision into Alaska               
 fisheries.  Canada had been fishing aggressively on stocks of                 
 concern to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  Primarily because of            
 the litigation threat, Alaska entered into a treaty intended to               
 foster rational management and rebuild chinook stocks.  Those                 
 stocks were shared by fisheries up and down the coast, came from              
 numerous systems, intermixed throughout the region, and were in a             
 depressed status.  "As part of entering into the treaty, Alaska was           
 provided some protection from the Boldt-related, U.S. v. Washington         
 litigation," he said.                                                         
 MR. BENTON explained the resulting three-part agreement provided              
 for 1) a treaty with Canada; 2) an out-of-court settlement                    
 involving Alaska, the tribes and the federal government, which set            
 aside the litigation under the Baldrige Stipulation; and 3)a                  
 commission composed of a tribal commissioner, a southern states               
 commissioner and an Alaska commissioner, which would have veto                
 power within the U.S. section and make decisions on salmon                    
 allocation between the northern and southern United States.                   
 Number 1082                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said although that arrangement served Alaska well for a            
 number of years, that was no longer the case.  The "first crack in            
 the dike" was the re-initiation, by the tribes, of the U.S. v.               
 Washington proceedings.  "That is basically an allocation issue              
 between us and the tribes over salmon that are harvested in Alaska            
 and whether or not those salmon count against the non-treaty                  
 tribes' share down in Washington and Oregon," Mr. Benton explained.           
 "The protection from that litigation was one of the key points that           
 brought Alaska into the treaty."                                              
 Number 1136                                                                   
 MR. BENTON referred to "the second and more immediate crack in that           
 dike", events over the past couple of years where the southern                
 states re-initiated other litigation against Alaska, most notably             
 on chinook the previous year.  "Those legal actions, tied to                  
 Canada's intransigence over the equity issue, have put the Pacific            
 Salmon Treaty and the whole process in serious jeopardy," Mr.                 
 Benton said.  "And there are a number of major issues that have               
 become seriously intertwined.  And I think the future of whether or           
 not this treaty survives is certainly a question."                            
 Number 1178                                                                   
 MR. BENTON referred to rebuilding of chinook stocks, the subject of           
 litigation the previous year and much controversy.  "The tribes and           
 state of Washington and Oregon sued Alaska because they did not               
 support our harvest level of 230,000," he said.  "They were                   
 successful in that litigation, primarily because of procedural                
 issues, although the judge gave every indication that, in her                 
 opinion - although she didn't venture into fisheries management               
 issues - in her opinion, that Alaska ... probably would have                  
 harvested too many fish.  And under her injunction, we harvested              
 175,000; and Alaska's proposal at the time was 230,000."                      
 MR. BENTON noted the upshot was disruption of both the fishery and            
 the treaty process.  Prior to that, Alaska had operated within the            
 U.S. section on a more level playing field.  Although the southern            
 U.S. members had not been pleasant, they were more or less equal in           
 terms of negotiations and nobody had leverage over anyone else.               
 "Now, we're in a situation where, I think, the tribes in the                  
 southern United States believe that they have considerable leverage           
 over Alaska in the process, and it has become apparent in the way             
 they negotiate that they are willing to use that leverage," Mr.               
 Benton asserted.                                                              
 Number 1280                                                                   
 MR. BENTON indicated Alaska took a number of actions the previous             
 fall.  The department looked at the chinook program and the treaty            
 provision calling for a chinook rebuilding program, which had been            
 guiding the policy-making in the commission for the life of the               
 treaty.  They identified key issues, added and assembled technical            
 staff, and started taking apart, systematically, those issues and             
 the rebuilding program, examining them to see how they affected               
 Alaska's fisheries and the status of those stocks.                            
 Number 1337                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said a legal team in the Department of Law was assembled           
 to provide guidance and to help them look at obligations under the            
 treaty to ensure that Alaska's management and negotiations were               
 consistent with both the treaty and the law, in an increased effort           
 to prevent future litigation.  "All that's ... a way of saying that           
 we decided that we would go on the offensive this fall and put the            
 south in the position of having to defend their status under the              
 chinook rebuilding program," Mr. Benton stated.  "We identified ...           
 a whole range of technical issues and raised them repeatedly with             
 the southern states and tribes.  They have, to date, been fairly              
 reluctant to engage us in those technical issues and instead have             
 relied, pretty much, on political and PR efforts to keep us in a              
 place where they're in an advantage in terms of the negotiations.             
 And they, I believe, have been working pretty closely with our                
 Canadian counterparts to do that."                                            
 Number 1410                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said in January, the first sit-down session of the                 
 Pacific Salmon Commission occurred, an executive session involving            
 Alaska, Canada and a U.S. executive.  "At that meeting, the                   
 southern United States, in our U.S. executive session, put forward            
 a proposal that would have very severely constrained the Alaska               
 chinook fishery," he said.  "I don't want to get into the numbers,            
 but it was just a very significant reduction which would have, in             
 essence, had us not even having a fishery this year.  Canada came             
 forward at that same meeting and provided a very superficial                  
 analysis of concerns that they have for stocks on the west coast of           
 Vancouver Island, claiming that if there weren't severe                       
 restrictions beyond those that were in place in 1995, that some of            
 those stocks would be -- they're depressed now and could even go              
 extinct.  And that was their words.  They did not provide much in             
 the way of technical back-up at that time."                                   
 Number 1476                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said the second round of meetings took place in                    
 February.  Between those two meetings, Alaska asked the Canadians             
 for data on the status of those stocks.  By February, some data had           
 been received, but not all of it.  Mr. Benton said Alaska's                   
 technical people worked with the Canadians and got into some in-              
 depth review of the Canadian presentation.  Referring to the                  
 Canadians, Mr. Benton said, "Their contention is built around the             
 production out of a couple of major hatcheries on the west coast of           
 Vancouver Island.  They have tied that production argument, and               
 problems they've had with the hatcheries, to the wild stocks on the           
 island.  And it turns out that after a fair amount of review, a lot           
 of their contentions are not accurate, and the linkage between the            
 hatcheries and the wild stocks is tenuous at best, for some                   
 systems, and non-existent for a fairly sizeable number of systems."           
 MR. BENTON referred to a recent meeting in Victoria, at which                 
 Canada made a proposal for Alaska's fishery that looked remarkably            
 like the original southern U.S. proposal and that would have                  
 significantly restrained Alaska's fishery.  The three items on the            
 agenda were status of Fraser River sockeye, southern U.S. coho and            
 chinook.  "And they tied agreement on those other two fisheries to            
 us accepting a very low number on chinook," Mr. Benton said.  "The            
 southern United States, on the other hand, actually became somewhat           
 more reasonable.  They came back to us with a different proposal              
 that was more acceptable, but not really acceptable yet, for our              
 fishery.  But more importantly, they laid out a concept that opened           
 the door for, maybe, a longer-range solution to the problem.  And             
 what they put forward was ... a three-part proposal that would have           
 an interim arrangement for '96, negotiating, between now and the              
 end of the year, a long-term arrangement for '97 and beyond on                
 chinook, and an agreement that Alaska and the southern U.S. would             
 get together and develop a program for restoring production to                
 those chinook stocks in southern United States."                              
 Number 1627                                                                   
 MR. BENTON continued, "We followed up on that with them and                   
 actually fleshed it out and gave them a more detailed proposal on             
 all three components.  And I'd say that for our numbers in '96 that           
 we are still fairly far apart.  But if we're able to reach some               
 kind of accommodation on a longer-range, harvest-sharing                      
 arrangement that extends from '97 and beyond, that both sides could           
 live with, we actually may be able to reach some kind of                      
 accommodation for 1996."                                                      
 MR. BENTON said the principle was "if we're going to share the                
 pain, we're going to share the gain."  He stated, "Under the life             
 of the treaty to date, Alaska was constrained by a ceiling on the             
 chinook fishery of 263,000.  And in the late '80s and early 1990s,            
 the abundance more than doubled in the fishery, but we were still             
 constrained at that low level.  And our fisheries didn't have the             
 opportunity to access those fish.  So, they didn't get to share in            
 the gains that were made in terms of rebuilding those stocks.  Now            
 they're asking us to share in the pain in the low numbers.  And               
 we've said, `if we're going to have to do that, then we want to see           
 a system that is somewhat more balanced and symmetrical, that gives           
 us opportunity, if we're going to have to take the constraint as              
 Number 1697                                                                   
 MR. BENTON noted there had been some progress using that concept.             
 "The importance of that is that if we get this kind of an agreement           
 put in place, we will not wind up in court this year," he stated.             
 "And given the way that the 9th Circuit has dealt with us, that's             
 probably a real advantageous thing to do, if we can do it."  He               
 pointed out that did not mean Alaska would accept just any number             
 for 1996.  An acceptable number would have to be based on the                 
 status of stocks, not just a political reallocation accommodating             
 interests of the southern U.S.   "So, we're still working on that             
 part of it, as well," he added.                                               
 Number 1735                                                                   
 MR. BENTON referred to the equity issue and the New Zealand                   
 ambassador, Mr. Beeby, hired by the United States and Canada to               
 help sort out the equity argument.  "In simple terms, equity is one           
 of several principles in the treaty," Mr. Benton explained.  "It              
 basically says each party, the United States and Canada, should get           
 the benefits of the production of salmon from their ... respective            
 waters."  Mr. Benton said it was vague and was an allocation issue.           
 "Canada has made this a theological tenet for them ... in their               
 negotiations in the commission," he said.  "And they maintain that            
 the United States takes far more fish of Canadian origin than                 
 Canada takes of U.S. origin.  And without getting into all the                
 details, it is very contentious.  It is very complicated."                    
 MR. BENTON explained, "Clearly, we don't agree with the Canadian              
 viewpoint on how equity needs to be resolved, and we reached an               
 impasse between the two countries last year on this matter.  It was           
 the issue that caused Canada to institute the transit fee a couple            
 of years ago.  It was the issue that caused Canada to walk out of             
 the treaty process initially.  It was the issue that Brian Tobin,             
 when he was fisheries minister and came out to the west coast in              
 '94, it was the issue that caused him to institute a fishing                  
 strategy that was designed to fish hard on U.S. stocks, primarily             
 Washington and Oregon stocks, to bring the United States to the               
 table so we could resolve the equity issue."                                  
 Number 1822                                                                   
 MR. BENTON indicated Ambassador Beeby was hired as a mediator,                
 reluctantly by the U.S., in a last-ditch effort to resolve                    
 differences.  "He was unable to do that," Mr. Benton said.  "Canada           
 back-tracked severely from progress we'd made even up to that                 
 time."  He said since Ambassador Beeby's departure, Canada had made           
 a lot of noise about having his report released.  "Let me assure              
 you that the ambassador did not make a report," Mr. Benton said.              
 "He didn't even make a proposal.  He had some concepts that he                
 floated around and there were several different versions of these             
 concepts.  They were not acceptable to either or both of the                  
 parties at any one time.  When he left, he did not find fault with            
 either side in this debate.  It's just that it is a very                      
 complicated issue that the parties are very far apart on right                
 Number 1849                                                                   
 MR. BENTON referred to the equity matter and said those dealing               
 with it on the U.S. side did not know where to go next.  They                 
 believed Canada was unwilling to negotiate in a good-faith manner.            
 "We've made every effort we could think of to get them to the table           
 so we could talk about it," Mr. Benton stated, indicating they had            
 offered to meet with Canada any time or place to discuss equity               
 arrangements.  "And it has just gotten nowhere.  So, I don't see us           
 making any progress on that any time soon," Mr. Benton added.                 
 Number 1914                                                                   
 MR. BENTON indicated the issues of chinook and equity, combined               
 with Canada's problems with internal reallocation and fisheries               
 management, did not bode well for reaching agreements with Canada             
 this year or in the short-term foreseeable future.  Canada had                
 instituted licensing and buy-back programs in their fleet, with               
 possible reductions of a third or greater.  The licensing scheme              
 involved stacking licenses that were awarded to individuals who               
 might have to pool them onto one vessel in order to operate.                  
 MR. BENTON understood Canadian fishermen had been paying the                  
 government for several years in case of a future buy-back program.            
 "One industry representative down there told me it was on the order           
 of $65 million that they'd paid, that they thought they had to                
 institute a buy-back program when they agreed to it," Mr. Benton              
 said.  "The Canadian government can't quite find that $65 million             
 now.  They don't know how they're going to implement that buy-back            
 program.  But it's there and they've got everybody pretty stirred             
 up.  That, combined with the way they've mismanaged their fisheries           
 have really got their internal political situation in bad shape.              
 Their fishing policies have pretty much decimated their coho                  
 stocks.  They have consistently overfished their southern resident            
 chinook stocks down there in Georgia Strait and they have done a              
 terrible job on the Fraser River, to the extent they're going to              
 have to close the sockeye fishery this year.  So, there's a lot of            
 pressures inside Canada that are going to cause them to not be very           
 amenable to negotiations with us."                                            
 MR. BENTON suggested it was to Alaska's benefit to reach accord               
 with the southern U.S. to avoid court battles.  "We're willing to             
 go to court and will go to court if we have to, to defend Alaska's            
 interests," he said.  "But I would hope that we could reach an                
 accommodation with them and hopefully resolve our differences                 
 there.  And then maybe then, together, we can deal with Canada ...            
 on a united front inside the U.S. section."                                   
 Number 2021                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked about the limit for Southeast Alaska                 
 chinook this year.                                                            
 MR. BENTON replied although he could not speak to the numbers,                
 Alaska was reasonably far apart but within striking distance of               
 agreement with the southern U.S., but nowhere near any kind of                
 agreement with Canada.  Following a planned meeting of the U.S.               
 commissioners towards the end of April, more firm information                 
 should be forthcoming.  "The sticking point right now is the                  
 estimate of abundance of chinook," Mr. Benton said, explaining that           
 estimates were done through a modeling effort conducted by Alaskan,           
 southern U.S., and Canadian scientists.  He stated, "Until we have            
 agreement on that abundance estimate, we're not going to able to              
 really get an agreement on an overall number for this year.  But I            
 will tell you that abundances are down this year over last.  That's           
 not unexpected.  We knew that there was a problem with Robertson              
 Creek Hatchery on the west coast of Vancouver Island."                        
 Number 2088                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said several years ago, there had been back-to-back el             
 ninos, during which there was heavy predation on hatchery-released            
 chinook in Barkley Sound.  That hatchery accounted for                        
 approximately 30 percent of Alaska's fishery when it was up and               
 running.  "So, we know abundances are down because of that," Mr.              
 Benton said.  "We knew there was a problem with that hatchery                 
 program.  This year was the year that was projected to be sort of             
 the bottom of that curve and abundances are now supposed to start             
 increasing because of the survival of that hatchery stock and                 
 others, because ocean survival conditions improved.  It should help           
 us out in '97 and ... beyond.  But this year, abundances are                  
 definitely down and Alaska is going to act responsibly.  We have a            
 conservation obligation under the treaty and just generally, that's           
 the way we manage fisheries.  And so, we're going to respond to               
 that.  But we don't think the kind of response Canada was trying to           
 force us into was anywhere near responsible or appropriate."                  
 Number 2125                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked about the predation on hatchery fish.               
 MR. BENTON replied it was mackerel, which followed warm water north           
 into Barkley Sound.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON noted Mr. Benton's reluctance to talk about              
 the numbers and asked why.                                                    
 MR. BENTON explained there were international negotiations and that           
 Alaska was right in the middle of negotiating with the south in an            
 executive committee setting.  He was bound by those rules.                    
 Number 2168                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON indicated he sensed the Canadians did not feel           
 constrained about discussing the issue.                                       
 MR. BENTON replied the Canadians had not been very constrained                
 about meeting any of their obligations recently.  For example, with           
 regard to the mediator in the equity issue, there was an agreement            
 not to discuss the mediator's operations in the press, which the              
 Canadians came close to violating after presenting inaccurate                 
 information.  "But that doesn't mean that Alaska can't meet its               
 obligations, at least with regard to our southern colleagues I'm              
 trying to negotiate with right now," he said.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked at what point Mr. Benton could begin               
 talking about the numbers.                                                    
 MR. BENTON hoped after the next round of discussions with the                 
 southern U.S. commissioners that either an agreement would be                 
 reached or that they would be close enough to talk about numbers.             
 Number 2270                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if there was any way of allocating the             
 sport fish harvest by Washington and Oregon residents, and the                
 commercial troll harvest by Washington and Oregon trollers, to the            
 southern catch rather than to Alaska's catch.                                 
 MR. BENTON asked if he meant in-state.                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON concurred and asked why that should be counted           
 against the Alaska harvest.                                                   
 MR. BENTON declared that was just the way it was structured under             
 the annex in the treaty.  All catch in Southeast Alaska was under             
 that quota, regardless of who caught the fish.                                
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if that could be changed.  "For example,           
 I've been told that half the sport fish harvest in Southeast Alaska           
 is by Washington and Oregon anglers," he said.  "I get very                   
 frustrated ... that that's allocated to us."  He asked if it was              
 written in stone.                                                             
 Number 2278                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said he sometimes shared that frustration.  "It has to             
 do with the treaty annex and, in part, it has to do with U.S. law,"           
 he said.  He suggested that, as with other allocation issues, it              
 might be unconstitutional to discriminate between residents of                
 respective states.  As for the treaty annex, the harvest in                   
 Southeast Alaska was under a quota.  Mr. Benton mentioned a related           
 problem, the large sport fish catches off the west coast of                   
 Vancouver Island that were not accounted for under the Canadian               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON indicated that was his next question.  He                
 asked if that was also written in stone and how that had happened.            
 Number 2326                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said he was not around when the treaty was negotiated.             
 "But my understanding is that the reason that that occurred is                
 because the southern delegates, at the time the treaty was                    
 negotiated, were so anxious to get an agreement that they agreed to           
 allow Canada to not count their sport fish harvest off Vancouver              
 Island under the annex.  So, the annex covers troll and net and               
 some sport.  It's sort of called `sport troll' but it's ... in the            
 outside waters.  And it's relatively a minor component of the                 
 overall sport catch off the west coast of Vancouver Island.  At the           
 time, I don't think the sport fishery was that large.  But what has           
 happened is that they've had an enormous explosion in the sport               
 fish component of their fishery, none of which is counted under the           
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if that was a door that could not be               
 opened again.                                                                 
 MR. BENTON replied, "Well, I've brought it up a number of times               
 with the Canadians.  And every time I do, the southern United                 
 States guys are the ones that start squawking about, `oh, we can't            
 bring that up again'.  It's pretty frustrating.  That's why, in               
 some ways, I'd like to ... try to get some better cooperation                 
 between the U.S. commissioners, if possible, so that we can do                
 things like that.  But as long as it's the way it is inside the               
 U.S. section, there's no way we can get to it, because it requires            
 both sides to agree."                                                         
 Number 2391                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said he was amazed at the ability of the                 
 Canadians, when there was a vacuum of information, to take                    
 advantage of that.  He expressed concern over the way Canada had              
 characterized the departure of Ambassador Beeby.  He asked if the             
 ambassador could prepare a press release saying `I have no report;            
 I have circulated concepts; the concepts were not agreeable to both           
 MR. BENTON stated he shared the frustration and said, "When Canada            
 first broke this as a news article and started doing their PR                 
 campaign, we went to the U.S. negotiator - because really this is             
 his province, and the U.S. government should be responding, in my             
 view - and strongly urged him to deal with us.  And the U.S.                  
 government has been reluctant to get out there in front of the PR             
 campaign.  I guess they just feel that they're better off doing               
 things behind the scenes."  Mr. Benton said Ambassador Pipkin                 
 solicited a letter from Ambassador Beeby clarifying the situation,            
 which apparently Beeby sent to Fortier, the Canadian negotiator.              
 Mr. Benton never saw the letter, which addressed confidential                 
 TAPE 96-17, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0003                                                                   
 MR. BENTON said whereas Canada had no qualms about "pushing the               
 envelope," the U.S. did not want to do so and was stuck with the              
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN said he understood negotiations were still going           
 on and there was no cap set for Southeast Alaska.                             
 MR. BENTON concurred.                                                         
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN remarked that at some point, people would want             
 to start fishing.  He asked if that time arrived and there was no             
 cap set, whether ADF&G would set a conservative cap.                          
 MR. BENTON explained that, excluding last year, in years past when            
 there was no agreed-to annex, Alaska set a harvest range, usually             
 in keeping with the previous annex, which would have been 263,000.            
 However, in more recent years, that number had been somewhat                  
 constrained by Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements to deal              
 with Snake River fall chinook.  "This year, because of the severe             
 reductions in the Canadian fisheries - they're planning fairly                
 significant reductions in their chinook fishery - and in southern             
 fisheries - primarily because of coho - we don't think that the ESA           
 question is really going to ... have much effect up in Southeast              
 Alaska," Mr. Benton said.  "So, we shouldn't have much of a problem           
 with an ESA issue if ... the fishery is conducted anywhere near               
 where it has been in recent years."                                           
 MR. BENTON indicated that if Alaska could not get an agreement from           
 southern United States interests, let alone Canada, Alaska would              
 set the best number possible and live by it.  "And it's at that               
 time that the opportunity for the south to take us to court sort of           
 comes into play," he said.  "Hopefully, we'll have an agreement or,           
 hopefully, it will be a number that even if they can't agree, maybe           
 for political reasons, they won't think it's worth their time and             
 effort to go to court.  We will be responsible.  But ... right now,           
 we're in a situation where we can't even really estimate what that            
 number should be."                                                            
 Number 0103                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked whether Mr. Benton anticipated a lawsuit             
 from the Canadians if an agreement was reached with the southern              
 U.S. and a cap was set.                                                       
 MR. BENTON replied, "Canada can't take us to court.  The only way             
 that Canada got in that lawsuit was at the invitation of Washington           
 and the tribes ...."                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN expressed appreciation to David              
 Benton, who had worked on these kinds of issues for over a decade.            
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there were further questions and                  
 thanked Mr. Benton for the presentation.                                      
 There being no further business to conduct, CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN                
 adjourned the House Special Committee on Fisheries meeting at 6:00            

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