Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

02/03/2015 10:00 AM FISHERIES

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10:02:20 AM Start
10:02:47 AM Overview: Alaska Department of Fish & Game (adf&g) Commissioner's Office and Divisions of Commercial and Sport Fisheries
11:48:37 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentations: TELECONFERENCED
- "Intro on Fisheries Management in Alaska" by
Commissioner Cotten
- "Duties & Goals as they pertain to the Pacific
Salmon Treaty" by Deputy Commissioner
Charlie Swanton
- "Basic Info on Duties & Responsibilities,
Organization of the Division, Regions, Staff, &
Highlights & Future Challenges" by Director of
Commercial Fisheries Jeff Regnart & Director of
Sport Fisheries Tom Brookover
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                        February 3, 2015                                                                                        
                           10:02 a.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                              
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Bob Herron                                                                                                       
Representative Craig Johnson                                                                                                    
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW:  ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME (ADF&G)                                                                             
COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE AND DIVISIONS OF COMMERCIAL AND SPORT                                                                     
FISHERIES                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SAM COTTON, Commissioner Designee                                                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an overview with a general                                                                      
introduction on fisheries management in Alaska.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHARLIE SWANTON, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                            
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an overview on duties pertaining                                                                
to the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the related ADF&G goals.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS BROOKOVER, Acting Director                                                                                               
Division of Sport Fish                                                                                                          
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided  an overview  on  the Division  of                                                            
Sport Fish and basic information on duties and responsibilities.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
JEFF REGNART, Director                                                                                                          
Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska2                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided  an overview  of  the Division  of                                                            
Commercial   Fisheries   and   basic    information   on   duties,                                                              
responsibilities,  organization of  the division, regions,  staff,                                                              
and highlights and future challenges.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:02:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the   House  Special  Committee  on                                                            
Fisheries meeting to  order at 10:02 a.m.  Present  at the call to                                                              
order  were  Representatives Ortiz,  Herron,  Kreiss-Tomkins,  and                                                              
Stutes.   Representatives  Millett,  Johnson,  and Foster  arrived                                                              
while the meeting was in progress.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
^OVERVIEW:     ALASKA   DEPARTMENT   OF   FISH  &   GAME   (ADF&G)                                                              
COMMISSIONER'S  OFFICE  AND  DIVISIONS  OF  COMMERCIAL  AND  SPORT                                                              
FISHERIES                                                                                                                       
      OVERVIEW:  ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME (ADF&G)                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE AND DIVISIONS OF COMMERCIAL AND SPORT                                                               
                           FISHERIES                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:02:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  announced that the  only order of business  would be                                                              
an overview  from the  Alaska Department  of  Fish & Game  (ADF&G)                                                              
Commissioner's  Office  and  Divisions  of  Commercial  and  Sport                                                              
Fisheries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:04:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SAM COTTON,  Commissioner  Designee, Alaska  Department of  Fish &                                                              
Game (ADF&G), established  the alignment of goals,  for the Alaska                                                              
Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G), with that  of the legislature,                                                              
which  is  to  manage  fish  and   game  resources  based  on  the                                                              
sustained  yield principle  in order to  provide economic  benefit                                                              
while addressing  the wellbeing  of the  state.  Additionally,  he                                                              
stressed the department's  priority for providing  Alaskans access                                                              
to  the  resources  for reasons  that  include:    food  security,                                                              
economic  security,  and recreational  opportunities.    Community                                                              
sustainability is often  dependent on access to the  fish and game                                                              
resources.   The  department's general  guidance is  found in  the                                                              
state  constitution  and  the  Alaska Statutes,  Title  16.    The                                                              
department  is divided  into  three  general areas  for  providing                                                              
core services,  which are:   management, with success  measured by                                                              
the  commercial  harvest and  angler  days; stock  assessment  and                                                              
research,  measured by  meeting  escapement goals  and meeting  or                                                              
exceeding   catch  levels;   and  customer   service  and   public                                                              
involvement,   which   provides    educational   programs,   sells                                                              
licenses,  and  engages  public  input  via  committee  and  board                                                              
participation.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:06:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTON  turned to the ADF&G organizational  chart, to                                                              
illustrate  the six divisions  and the  board support  section, in                                                              
relation to the  Office of the Commissioner.   Directing attention                                                              
to  the committee  handout, titled  "Alaska Department  of Fish  &                                                              
Game, House  Special Committee  on Fisheries, Fisheries  Overview,                                                              
February  3, 2015,"  page 5, he  pointed out  the distribution  of                                                              
the department's  year around representation throughout  Alaska; a                                                              
presence  that is  significantly  expanded  on a  seasonal  basis.                                                              
Referring to the  pie charts, page 6 of the handout,  he indicated                                                              
the ADF&G  budget by division  as well as  by the total  number of                                                              
staff  in each.   The  Division  of Commercial  Fisheries has  the                                                              
largest  budget  and greatest  number  of employees,  followed  by                                                              
Division  of  Wildlife  Conservation.    The  Divisions  of  Sport                                                              
Fisheries   and   Wildlife   Conservation    both   enjoy   budget                                                              
supplementation from federal government receipts.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:08:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   COTTON  reviewed   the   responsibilities  of   the                                                              
commissioner's  office, which  include:   membership on the  North                                                              
Pacific  Fishery  Management  Council   (NPFMC),  Pacific  Fishery                                                              
Management  Council, and  non-voting membership  on the Boards  of                                                              
Fish  and  Game,  and  providing   representation  to  a  list  of                                                              
agencies.   He  directed attention  to  page 7,  of the  committee                                                              
handout, and qualified the headings shown as a partial roster.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:09:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON   stressed  the  importance   for  Alaska  to                                                              
maintain an active  presence on the NPFMC, given  the jurisdiction                                                              
area of  that agency; all  waters that  are beyond three  miles of                                                              
the coast.   He  described the  prevalence of  the fishing  effort                                                              
exerted in areas  that directly affect Alaskan  waters for species                                                              
such as  Pollock.   Although the  council process  is complex,  he                                                              
said the  fishery management  plans for the  Gulf of  Alaska (GOA)                                                              
and the  Bering Sea  are continually  amended by  the NPFMC.   By-                                                              
catch reduction  is a contentious  issue and the  department works                                                              
to  minimize the  allowed numbers  set  by the  council.   Another                                                              
contentious issue  is the rationalization for GOA  fisheries.  The                                                              
offshore   federal  fishery   cannot  be   directed  for   Alaskan                                                              
fisherman only,  but it is possible  and important to  ensure that                                                              
Alaska gets fair treatment via the [NPFMC] management plan.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:14:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON asked  for  a comparison  of  serving as  a                                                              
legislator versus commissioner.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTON  responded that it  is easy for him  to relate                                                              
to the legislators that he now serves.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  inquired  what  surprises  have  thus  far                                                              
arisen.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON responded  that  the  pleasant surprise,  and                                                              
affirmation, has  been the outstanding,  professional staff.   The                                                              
budgetary  restrictions   and  trying  to  get  along   with  less                                                              
presented  somewhat  of a  surprise;  however  the user  fees  and                                                              
federal receipts  provide significant contributions  and will help                                                              
to keep ADF&G activities going.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:17:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHARLIE SWANTON,  Deputy Commissioner,  Alaska Department  of Fish                                                              
& Game  (ADF&G), said  the United States  and Canada  entered into                                                              
the Pacific Salmon  Treaty in 1985, for the purpose  of conserving                                                              
and allocating salmon  harvests of inter-jurisdictional  fish.  He                                                              
defined inter-jurisdictional  to mean  fish that are  harvested in                                                              
one  country or  state  but spawned  and  reared  in another;  the                                                              
situation  pertaining   to  the  salmon  stocks   of  the  Pacific                                                              
Northwest,  Alaska, and Canada.   The  agreement took  two decades                                                              
of  negotiations  and  was  signed  amid  developing  conservation                                                              
problems, particularly  around the Chinook salmon stocks.   At the                                                              
time the  negotiations were established,  the issues  included the                                                              
concerns  that  80 percent  of  the  Chinook salmon  harvested  in                                                              
Southeast Alaska  (SEAK) were  fish that  originated in  Canada or                                                              
the  Pacific   Northwest.    There   were  also  high   levels  of                                                              
interception  of Pacific  Northwest fish  in Canadian Chinook  and                                                              
coho fisheries.   Also  occurring, were  Washington State  fishery                                                              
interceptions of  coho and sockeye salmon destined  for the Fraser                                                              
River.   Adding  to the  mix, he  said,  was the  [ruling made  by                                                              
federal judge,  the Honorable  George H.  Boldt, on United  States                                                            
v. State  of Washington, Civ.  No. 9213, 1974, (Boldt  decision)],                                                            
recognizing treaty  fishing rights for Pacific  Northwest Stevens-                                                              
Palmer treaty tribes [negotiated 1855].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:20:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  what  type of  gear  groups                                                              
compose the Canadian salmon fisheries.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON  recalled that it  is primarily sport  fishing charter                                                              
boats, some  gill netters,  troll and  seine fleets, but  possibly                                                              
others.  The  fleets may be similar  to what exists in  Alaska, he                                                              
conjectured.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:21:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SWANTON added  that the  Boldt  decision essentially  allowed                                                              
for  harvest  sharing  between Northwest  tribes  and  other  user                                                              
groups  in  Washington  and  Oregon.    As a  means  to  spur  the                                                              
agreement,  aggressive Canadian  fleets were  harvesting fish,  at                                                              
the  time   of  the  negotiations.     The  broad,   basic  treaty                                                              
principles  are  to  prevent  overfishing,   provide  for  optimum                                                              
production,  fair  sharing  based  on the  equity  principle,  and                                                              
avoid  undue  disruption  to existing  fisheries  in  the  various                                                              
states  and  countries.     He  said  the  scope   of  the  treaty                                                              
encompasses  1,276 linear  miles, extending  from Cape Falcon,  in                                                              
Northern Oregon,  to Cape Suckling, near Yakutat,  Alaska, and all                                                              
waters in  between that are  associated with Washington  State and                                                              
British   Columbia,  Canada.      The  treaty   creates   national                                                              
obligations  and is  unique due  to  the U.S.  states and  Pacific                                                              
Northwest  (PNW).   Treaty  Indian  tribes negotiate  the  fishery                                                              
provisions.     The  states   and  tribes   are  responsible   for                                                              
conducting  programs  that  attempt  to  fulfill  the  treaty  and                                                              
national obligations.   He then provided  a map of the  area, page                                                              
14 of  the committee  handout, to  indicate migratory  patterns of                                                              
the Chinook stocks managed under the treaty.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:23:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.   SWANTON  reviewed   the  makeup   of   the  Pacific   Salmon                                                              
Commission,  which is  comprised of  four U.S.  and four  Canadian                                                              
commissioners.   Among the various standing committees  and panels                                                              
are two  that relate  are primary to  Alaska:  the  Trans-boundary                                                              
Panel  and the  Northern Panel,  each with  an attached  technical                                                              
committee.   He mentioned that  well over 80 individuals  comprise                                                              
the Chinook Technical  Committee, making it the  largest technical                                                              
committee,  with   members  that  include  scientists   from  both                                                              
countries as  well as other  official representation  from Canada,                                                              
the states, and  Alaska.  Regarding decision making,  he explained                                                              
that  consensus  of  U.S.  and Canada  is  required  to  recommend                                                              
action.  The  U.S. decisions require consensus.   The authority is                                                              
vested  through  the  commissioners  for  the  states  of  Alaska,                                                              
Washington,  and  Oregon and  the  Pacific Northwest  tribes  with                                                              
each  state and  tribal commissioner  have  a vote.   The  federal                                                              
commissioner is a  nonvoting member and Washington  and Oregon are                                                              
each allowed  one vote.  Thus,  the U.S. section has  three votes.                                                              
The  advisory  panels  of  the  stakeholders  include:    Northern                                                              
Panel,  Trans-boundary  Panel,   and  Southern  and  Fraser  River                                                              
Panels.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:24:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SWANTON  listed  the  Southeast  Alaska  fisheries  that  are                                                              
touched  by  the  treaty,  which  include:    drift  gillnet,  set                                                              
gillnet, troll and  sport, and purse seine.  He  reported that the                                                              
2014  ex-vessel  value  of  the  Southeast  fishery  equaled  $150                                                              
million.   The  value of  the sport  fishery to  Southeast is  not                                                              
included  it  that figure,  but  is  estimated  to be  about  $273                                                              
million  annually.    Directing   attention  to  page  18  of  the                                                              
committee  handout,  he pointed  out  the  general areas  for  the                                                              
Southeast fisheries.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:25:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON  provided a flow chart  to illustrate the  position of                                                              
the  57   individuals  involved   in  administering   the  treaty,                                                              
comprised of  32 ADF&G staff,  6 National Oceanic  and Atmospheric                                                              
Administration (NOAA) staff, and 19 industry representatives.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:26:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   inquired  whether  it   would  be                                                              
accurate  to  state  that  very   few  Chinook  from  the  Pacific                                                              
Northwest systems migrate into the Bering Sea.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON deferred.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTON  offered that genetic work has  been conducted                                                              
in the  Bering Sea  for stock  identity purposes.   He  said there                                                              
are  Chinook  salmon present  in  the  Bering Sea  that  represent                                                              
western Pacific  stocks,  but the preponderance  are from  Western                                                              
Alaska  stocks  originating  in  the  Unalakleet,  Kuskokwim,  and                                                              
Yukon  River  systems.    The GOA  fish  are  non-Alaskan  stocks,                                                              
according to the early studies.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:28:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  noted the legislature's  aggressive stance                                                              
regarding the Endangered  Species Act [Title 16  U.S. Code Chapter                                                              
35  -  ENDANGERED  SPECIES,  1973]  listings,  and  asked  whether                                                              
department  push  back  would continue  under  the  administrative                                                              
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON  reported  that  a  team is  working  on  the                                                              
subject  in conjunction  with the  Department of  Law (DOL).   The                                                              
work  encompasses Steller  sea  lions and  the  various ice  seals                                                              
that have been  listed.  The department involvement  is active, he                                                              
assured the committee.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:30:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS  BROOKOVER,  Acting  Director,   Division  of  Sport  Fish,                                                              
Alaska Department of  Fish & Game (ADF&G), began  with the mission                                                              
statement,   which  is  to   protect  and   improve  the   state's                                                              
recreational fisheries  resources.  In carrying out  that mission,                                                              
the  Division  of  Sport  Fish  is  charged  with  management  and                                                              
oversight of fresh  and salt water sport fisheries  throughout the                                                              
state,  and  includes  both  finfish and  shellfish  stocks.    He                                                              
directed  attention  to  the  committee  handout,  titled  "Alaska                                                              
Department of  Fish and Game, Division  of Sport Fish,  2015 House                                                              
Fisheries Overview,  dated February 3, 2015, to  a page containing                                                              
a montage of  photos illustrating the diverse  locales and various                                                              
approaches that  are taken throughout  Alaska in pursuit  of sport                                                              
fish.   Images  included fishing  efforts as  depicted from  river                                                              
banks, via boats, in remote areas, and ice fishing.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:32:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER   provided  a  graph,  titled  "Sales   of  Fishing                                                              
Licenses,"  to  indicate  statewide  sales  over  the  past  seven                                                              
years; 2008-2014.   The annual sales  in recent years  total about                                                              
450,000,  with  the  majority  being sold  to  nonresidents.    He                                                              
reported  that of  the total  2014  sales, totaling  approximately                                                              
463,000,  roughly 273,000  were purchased  by nonresidents  versus                                                              
190,000  sold  to   residents.    Interestingly,   he  noted,  the                                                              
resident  sales remain steady,  while the  nonresident sales  have                                                              
fluctuated over the seven year period.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:33:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER provided  that, administratively,  the Division  of                                                              
Sport Fish  serves the state  through three geographical  regions.                                                              
Headquarter  offices  are located  in  Juneau and  Anchorage,  and                                                              
three  regional offices:    Southeast Region  I,  with offices  in                                                              
Douglas; Southcentral  Region II,  with offices in  Anchorage; and                                                              
Interior Region  III, with offices  in Fairbanks.  A  research and                                                              
technical services  unit (RTS)  is maintained  in Anchorage.   The                                                              
three  regional  offices,  RTS,  and  headquarters,  comprise  the                                                              
division's  five  units.   A  total  of  22 management  areas  are                                                              
supported by offices  across the three regions, and  he provided a                                                              
color coded state map to illustrate each area.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:34:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER reviewed  the FY16  proposed  operating budget  and                                                              
the  funding  sources  that  support   the  sport  fish  programs,                                                              
including  federal receipts  and user  fees.   He pointed  out the                                                              
two  primary funding  sources, which  are the  federal Sport  Fish                                                              
Restoration  Dingell Johnson  (DJ)  funds  generated from  federal                                                              
taxes associated  with the  sale of sporting  goods and  fuel, and                                                              
the Fish  and Game  funds derived  from fishing  license and  King                                                              
salmon stamp receipts.   These two components comprise  62 percent                                                              
of  the  budget,  and  are  supplemented  with  competitive  grant                                                              
projects,   partnerships,   matching    funds,   and   legislative                                                              
appropriations.   The  undesignated general  fund contribution  is                                                              
roughly $6.3 million, in the governor's endorsed budget.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:35:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  said the  division's strategic  plan was  developed                                                              
ten  years ago  and was  revised in  2010.   The plan  is used  to                                                              
guide  the division  towards achieving  the goals  of the  mission                                                              
statement  through focused  activities around  six core  services.                                                              
First is the  priority for fisheries management:   Manage Alaska's                                                              
recreational  fisheries  for  sustained   yield  and  recreational                                                              
angler  satisfaction funded  on an  area-based management  system.                                                              
The area managers work at the local level.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:36:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT   asked   about  a   communication   plan                                                              
regarding the management of local fishing limits and closures.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER responded  that the  area managers  are the  direct                                                              
source  of local  communication.    Some issues  require  prepared                                                              
statements;  however,   the  area  management  biologist   is  the                                                              
facilitator.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  clarified that  the  area managers  write                                                              
and carry  out the plan/communications  to the local  user groups,                                                              
which could call  for in-season actions, such as  closures or gear                                                              
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER concurred  that  typically  the area  communication                                                              
plans  are developed  at the local  management  level, but  can be                                                              
distributed on  a broader  scale throughout a  region or  to other                                                              
area offices considering similar action.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:38:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER pointed  out that  the area  managers also  monitor                                                              
fishery and  stock and  assessment projects  and other  sources of                                                              
information to modify  regulations in-season, in  order to achieve                                                              
fishery management  objectives.  The  Division of Sport  Fish also                                                              
works  with  the  Division  of  Commercial  Fisheries,  and  other                                                              
entities,  to coordinate  in-season  management  actions.   Annual                                                              
reviews  of  the   fisheries  are  conducted,  along   with  stock                                                              
assessment projects  to identify data  needs for the  coming year.                                                              
Habitat   restoration   and  enhancement   activities   are   also                                                              
participated  in by  the  division to  help  maintain boating  and                                                              
angler access to the state's public waters and resources.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:39:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER  moved  to  the   second  strategic  core  service,                                                              
fisheries   research,  and   said  the   management  of   Alaska's                                                              
recreational  fisheries  is based  on sound  scientific  practices                                                              
and  objective-based  research.     The  research  and  monitoring                                                              
projects are  designed and conducted  to assess a wide  variety of                                                              
management  information needs.   The projects  typically  focus on                                                              
subjects  such  as:    quantifying  and  monitoring  abundance  of                                                              
salmon   stocks  and   resident  species;   estimating  size   and                                                              
composition  as well as  other biological  attributes of  a stock;                                                              
quantifying  angler effort  catch and harvest;  and other  fishery                                                              
characteristics.   He  said the  division strives  to ensure  that                                                              
the   research   projects   conducted    are   statistically   and                                                              
scientifically sound.   That goal is accomplished  via an improved                                                              
written departmental  operational planning process,  which is used                                                              
to  identify measurable  objectives  and ensure  that  appropriate                                                              
sampling  methods and analytical  techniques  are employed  in all                                                              
of  the   research  and   stock  assessment   projects  that   are                                                              
undertaken.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:40:28 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  said  the goal of  the core  service for  fisheries                                                              
enhancement is to  increase and diversify angler  opportunities by                                                              
producing   and  releasing   hatchery  reared   fish.     Two  new                                                              
hatcheries  are currently  producing:  the  Ruth Burnett  Hatchery                                                              
in  Fairbanks,   and  the  William  Jack  Hernandez   Hatchery  in                                                              
Anchorage.    These  hatcheries  produce  both  coho  and  Chinook                                                              
salmon,  along  with  rainbow  trout,   Arctic  char,  and  Arctic                                                              
grayling.  In  addition to the fish produced  at these hatcheries,                                                              
staff also  work with operators  of private non-profit  hatcheries                                                              
to conduct enhancement projects.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:41:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER stated  that, regarding the core  service for angler                                                              
access, 15 percent  of the federal aid receipts  are restricted to                                                              
the use of  maintaining and improving boating access,  and require                                                              
matching   fund   contributions    of   25   percent.      Capital                                                              
appropriations  have   recently  been  providing   these  matching                                                              
funds.    The information  and  education  core  service  provides                                                              
information   on  fishing   opportunities,   enhancement,   angler                                                              
access,  regulations, management,  stewardship,  and  a number  of                                                              
other  areas  serving   a  variety  of  individuals   and  groups.                                                              
Different media  venues are  used, as well  as the ADF&G  website.                                                              
Frequent  updates  ensure  up  to  the  date  information  on  the                                                              
website, regarding  regulations changes or emergency  orders.  The                                                              
division's  participation  in  local  sportsmen  shows  and  other                                                              
events  provides additional  visibility.   The  Division of  Sport                                                              
Fish also  compliments the work  done by the Division  of Habitat,                                                              
and a core service  is identified for that purpose.   Funding from                                                              
the Division  of Habitat,  as well as  public and private  grants,                                                              
contribute to  the division's effort  of protecting  and restoring                                                              
fish habitat.   The  work includes:   conducting research  on fish                                                              
habitat; administering  stream bank  restoration and  fish passage                                                              
programs;  and coordination  of department  support of local  fish                                                              
habitat  partnerships  that are  formed  under the  national  fish                                                              
habitat plan.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:43:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT recalled that  funds for Chinook  research                                                              
have been removed  from the governor's budget and  asked how these                                                              
studies are to be funded.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER  assured  the committee  that  the  department  has                                                              
received  capital   appropriations  for   two  years,   about  $15                                                              
million, for  statewide Chinook salmon  research.  The  plans have                                                              
been developed and the project will continue, he said.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  inquired how much  has been spent  and how                                                              
comprehensive is  the plan for studying the statewide  downturn in                                                              
Chinook harvest.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER agreed to provide further information.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:45:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER   highlighted  the   past  years   accomplishments.                                                              
Beginning  with  management and  research,  he pointed  out  that,                                                              
although  in-season   regulations  saw  further   restrictions  on                                                              
Chinook throughout  the state, bag  limits were increased  in many                                                              
systems  for  coho and  sockeye.    Also, the  regulation  summary                                                              
booklets, which  are being revised  to simplify and  standardize a                                                              
user friendly  guide for  anglers, have been  released in  all but                                                              
Region II.   The revision  for Southcentral  is the final  area to                                                              
receive a  new booklet, and  it will be out  in time for  the 2015                                                              
season.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:47:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON referred to  the Susitna drainage  fishery                                                              
and asked  whether information  with the  Alaska Energy  Authority                                                              
(AEA)  is  shared  regarding the  studies  surrounding  the  hydro                                                              
project.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  responded that  the division  is working  with AEA,                                                              
and  the energy  agency  is funding  some  of  the research  being                                                              
conducted.  He offered to provide further information.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:49:30 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER   returned  to  accomplishments  in   the  area  of                                                              
enhancement and  said a  key milestone was  the completion  of the                                                              
four year project  transitioning the old Fort  Richardson facility                                                              
to  the   new  William  Jack   Hatchery.    Also,   production  of                                                              
reared/released fish  biomass, for the interior region,  reached a                                                              
twenty year  high.   The Crystal Lake  Hatchery, in  southeast, is                                                              
owned  by the  state,  operated  under  contract by  the  Southern                                                              
Southeast  Regional Aquaculture  Association  (SSRAA), and  funded                                                              
by the  Division of  Sport Fish.   The  facility is important  for                                                              
the  production  of Chinook  salmon  stocks, which  contribute  to                                                              
regional  commercial and  sport fisheries.   In  March of  2014, a                                                              
fire  destroyed the  majority of  the  structure and  it is  being                                                              
rebuilt  using  risk  management  funds and  SSRAA  contracts,  he                                                              
reported.   Although minor  loss occurred to  eggs and  smolt, the                                                              
majority  of  the  rearing  fish  were unharmed  and  able  to  be                                                              
released  with minimal disruption  to the  operations planned  for                                                              
2014.   A fair  amount of  the 2015  stocks were  a loss,  but the                                                              
rebuild of  the hatchery  will be complete,  this year,  and brood                                                              
take  goals  are expected  to  be  met,  which will  comprise  the                                                              
foundation  of  stocks  for  rearing  and  release  in  succeeding                                                              
years.   Finally, he  said, the fishery  center doors  were opened                                                              
to  the public  at  the  hatcheries  in Anchorage  and  Fairbanks.                                                              
These centers  will allow visitors  the opportunity to  learn more                                                              
about departmental enhancement operations.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:51:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked   whether  the  Fairbanks  hatchery                                                              
could be  used to  rear Chinook  salmon for  release in  the Yukon                                                              
River.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  stated his understanding  that Chinook  are already                                                              
being reared in  that facility.  The question would  be whether or                                                              
not additional stocks  could be reared.  On the  member's request,                                                              
he agreed to provide further information regarding the concept.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON  offered that  use of the  Fairbanks hatchery  to rear                                                              
additional   Chinook   salmon,    is   an   issue   of   capacity.                                                              
Additionally, lacking  an understanding of how the  released stock                                                              
might fair, during  the first year of ocean residency,  presents a                                                              
concern.   He cautioned that it  is important to establish  a cost                                                              
on return ratio  when enhancing a stock, and it could  prove to be                                                              
fairly costly.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked   to  qualify  what  fairly  costly                                                              
represents  and he  stressed the  current  statewide concern  over                                                              
the Yukon River Chinook stocks.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON  said estimates  do  exist and he  offered to  provide                                                              
further information.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT asked  about viability  research and  what                                                              
the department has to report on success rates.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SWANTON  said  the  smolt to  adult  survival  is  about  one                                                              
percent.   A good rate  would be the  three to five  percent range                                                              
and the costs are commensurate.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked  whether  conversations  have  been                                                              
held with  Canada regarding the  possibility of sharing  the costs                                                              
for stock enhancement.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWANTON  deferred, stating that  the director of  the Division                                                              
of Subsistence  could  answer that  question.   He offered  that a                                                              
mitigation   hatchery  has   been   used   in  Whitehorse,   Yukon                                                              
Territory, Canada, for enhancement efforts to some degree.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON expressed interest  in pursuing  Canada as                                                              
a  partner, during  these  economic  times.   Also,  study of  the                                                              
Canadian  success   rates  may  prove  helpful,   he  opined,  and                                                              
suggested that this avenue be pursued.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:03:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  continued  to review the  2014 accomplishments  and                                                              
the  access  improvement  activities,  which includes  work  on  a                                                              
False  Island  mooring  float,   the  Hoonah  boat  ramp,  a  fish                                                              
cleaning  facility  in  Southeast,  the Bings  Landing  dock,  the                                                              
Cooper  Landing  ramp, a  Birch  Creek  launch, and  Wrangell  and                                                              
Haines pump-outs.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:04:30 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked about progress on the Kasilof ramp.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER agreed to provide specific information.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:05:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  moved to  the 2014  accomplishments of  the habitat                                                              
program, which works  with communities to restore  riparian areas,                                                              
and rehabilitate  stream  banks and  lake shores.   He provided  a                                                              
series of  before and after pictures  to illustrate the  work that                                                              
has taken place.   Further, he reported:  2,400  feet of riverbank                                                              
area has been  rehabilitated; 192 miles of water  bodies have been                                                              
added  to the  anadromous  waters catalogue;  11.9  miles of  fish                                                              
passage have  been improved with  culverts; and 20  reservation of                                                              
water  applications have  been submitted,  which,  if approved  by                                                              
the  Department  of  Natural Resources  (DNR),  will  reserve  in-                                                              
stream flows for fish.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:06:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT   returned   to  the   bank   enhancement                                                              
activities to inquire about work on the Susitna River drainage.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER agreed to provide further information.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:07:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER reported  on the efficiencies in  the workforce that                                                              
have been  in progress  since FY08,  in response  to a  decline in                                                              
funding.   The  FY16 budget  request  is only  slightly more  than                                                              
what was  submitted in FY08, he  pointed out.   Important projects                                                              
and  programs have  been maintained  despite the  reduction of  91                                                              
positions  and a  cut  of $600  thousand  in administrative  staff                                                              
costs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:08:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER   turned  to  the  handout  page   titled,  "Moving                                                              
Forward," to  note the division's  activities in the  coming year,                                                              
which  include:   update  of the  strategic  plan;  work with  the                                                              
University  of  Alaska  to  transfer  the  Kachemak  Bay  research                                                              
reserve  from  the  division  to  the  university;  initiation  of                                                              
efforts to develop  electronic reporting, including  a 2015 launch                                                              
of an  electronic charter logbook  program on the Kenai  River and                                                              
marine creel data.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:08:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  recalled that the charter  logbook for the                                                              
Kenai River has been in place for six years.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER offered  that  the  log book  program  has been  in                                                              
place since about 1998.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  asked   specifically  about  the  Chinook                                                              
salmon log book data.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  said that the  log book  requirement, as it  is now                                                              
understood, dates  to 2005.  He  further explained the  use of the                                                              
harvest  information, how  it  is accessed  by  federal and  state                                                              
agencies, and that  ADF&G accesses and uses the  data at different                                                              
times of the year.  He provided a number of examples.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:11:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES  clarified that  the  log  book information  can  be                                                              
gathered and used in-season as well as at the end of the season.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  concurred and added  that an annual  harvest report                                                              
is compiled from the data, along with the other uses.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:11:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ   inquired  about  using  a   limited  entry                                                              
approach  for  charter boat  fishing  and  suggested that  it  may                                                              
prove helpful for tracking harvest information.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER acknowledged  that the idea has been  discussed, but                                                              
no  crystalized plan  exists for  moving  in that  direction.   He                                                              
emphasized  that  the current  reporting  methods  are  considered                                                              
adequate,   useful,   and   provide   a   comfortable   level   of                                                              
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:13:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER continued  with the  current  activities, and  said                                                              
that an electronic  permitting and reporting program  for personal                                                              
use fisheries  is being introduced  in 2015, which will  allow dip                                                              
net users  to obtain permits and  report activities via  the ADF&G                                                              
website.   He added  that this  will not  preclude the  option for                                                              
paper applications  and reports.  Finally, he said  the two access                                                              
projects that  will be taken  up in 2015  are the Auke  Bay harbor                                                              
improvements and the Homer boat ramp and float facility.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:14:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER  said  the  challenges  for  the  division  include                                                              
fluctuating  revenues   that  must  be  dealt  with   while  still                                                              
delivering  on the core  services; low  Chinook salmon  abundance,                                                              
which  is  expected   to  continue;  invasive  species;   and  the                                                              
completion  and   staffing  of  the  interactive   public  fishery                                                              
centers  at the  Anchorage and  Fairbanks  hatcheries.   Regarding                                                              
the  invasive  species,  he  elaborated  on  the  eradication  and                                                              
elimination  of pike in  certain locales  and the ongoing  removal                                                              
of invasive tunicate  from Sitka's Whiting Harbor,  which is being                                                              
handled  with   assistance  from  the  Smithsonian   Environmental                                                              
Research Center.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:17:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked for a discussion regarding  the gill                                                              
net across the Kenai [River], and the inevitable court case.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER deferred.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON  answered that,  to  his knowledge,  a  court                                                              
case  has not  been  filed.   The  federal subsistence  board  was                                                              
petitioned, and  approved, the use of  a gill net for  the village                                                              
of Ninilchik.   Of the  four agencies that  sit on the  board, the                                                              
National Parks  Service voted to  allow the use, despite  the area                                                              
being designated  as a  wildlife refuge.   Reconsideration  may be                                                              
requested,  and as concerns  have continued,  the Alaska  National                                                              
Interest   Lands  Conservation   Act  (ANILCA)   has  joined   the                                                              
conversation.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:20:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  asked  about  the  existence  of  citizen                                                              
advisory groups to the Sport Fishing Division.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROOKOVER  answered that there  are no formal  advisory groups                                                              
established,  but a  number  of angler  groups  do contribute  and                                                              
work with the division.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:21:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT   requested  an  opinion   as  to  whether                                                              
adequate public  input exists around  local sport  fish management                                                              
efforts and the Board of Fisheries (BOF) process.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROOKOVER  responded  that  the BOF  conducts  a  transparent                                                              
process, which  allows for  a high level  of participation.   Many                                                              
recreational  anglers are not  aware of  the board operations  but                                                              
the division works to inform users about the process.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:22:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JEFF REGNART, Director,  Division of Commercial  Fisheries, Alaska                                                              
Department of  Fish & Game (ADF&G),  described the major  tasks of                                                              
the division,  which are  to manage  subsistence, commercial,  and                                                              
personal  use  fisheries  in  the  interest  of  the  economy  and                                                              
general wellbeing  of the citizens  of the state,  consistent with                                                              
the  sustained   yield  principal,  and  subject   to  allocations                                                              
through public regulatory  processes.  He reviewed  the division's                                                              
primary  responsibilities,  which  are to:    manage  subsistence,                                                              
commercial,  and  personal  use  fisheries  within  state  waters;                                                              
manage shellfish  species and  some groundfish  out to  200 miles;                                                              
conduct applied  research on Alaska's aquatic resources;  plan and                                                              
permit  salmon hatcheries  and mariculture  operations;  negotiate                                                              
fishing  agreements  subject  to  the Pacific  Salmon  treaty  and                                                              
Alaska-Yukon   Treaty;    and   coordinate   with    federal   and                                                              
international  fisheries management agencies.   The  core services                                                              
are  harvest management,  stock assessment  and applied  research,                                                              
aquaculture   permitting,   and   customer  service   and   public                                                              
involvement.    Elaborating  on   these  core  services,  he  said                                                              
harvest management  is at the  heart of the divisions  activities.                                                              
Harvest  management involves  supporting  the  Board of  Fisheries                                                              
(BOF) in  establishing regulations  and management plans;  opening                                                              
and  closing  fishing   areas  and  setting  fishing   times;  and                                                              
collecting harvest and biological data.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:24:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART continued  with the components of  harvest management,                                                              
which provides  in-season management  through the employment  of a                                                              
cadre of  fisheries managers,  proximate  to the pertinent  areas,                                                              
who  exercise broad  authority to  open and  close the  fisheries.                                                              
Applied  science is  used in order  to ensure  that management  of                                                              
Alaska's  fisheries   is  consistent  with  the   sustained  yield                                                              
principle.   He then provided a  series of pictures  to illustrate                                                              
the  variety  of  Alaska  commercial   fishing  techniques,  which                                                              
included  images of  vessels for  seining  and crabbing.   In  the                                                              
area of stock  assessment and applied research,  he explained that                                                              
a  number  of  techniques  are employed  which  include:    salmon                                                              
escapement enumeration  through the  use of weirs,  towers, sonar,                                                              
foot  and aerial  surveys;  estimate juvenile  salmon  production;                                                              
groundfish  and shellfish  surveys; herring  spawn deposition  and                                                              
hydro-acoustic   surveys;  aerial   surveys   for  herring;   dive                                                              
surveys;  and biological,  genetic, and  coded-wire tag  sampling.                                                              
Pictures of salmon  weirs for enumeration and sampling  as well as                                                              
some  to illustrate  how field  staff  conduct stock  assessments,                                                              
were shared.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:26:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART  said the  division  is  involved in  the  permitting                                                              
process  of all  aquaculture endeavors,  and  reviewed the  active                                                              
permits, which  include:   29 hatcheries  for salmon,  2 shellfish                                                              
hatcheries,  68 shellfish farms,  and 8  shellfish nurseries.   He                                                              
directed  attention to  a page  in the  committee handout,  titled                                                              
"Commercial  Salmon  Harvests" showing  graphed  information  from                                                              
1977-2013 to  contrast the  harvest of  fish sources from  natural                                                              
runs versus hatchery production.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:27:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES inquired  about the  division's  involvement in  the                                                              
fertilization  project  at  Karluk  and  whether  the  project  is                                                              
moving forward.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART  confirmed   that  the  division  is   involved  with                                                              
assessing the  biological perspective, and  the state has  given a                                                              
green light to  the project; however, being situated  on a refuge,                                                              
an  Environmental Impact  Assessment is  out for  comment and  the                                                              
federal government is in charge of the next step.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:27:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    MILLETT    provided    questions    on    behalf                                                              
Representative   Herron   regarding   the   Kuskokwim   management                                                              
strategy.  She  asked whether the division's  in-season managerial                                                              
staff  is  adequate,  whether  staff  will  work  with  the  local                                                              
advisory  groups, and  whether there  is  pull to  have a  year-a-                                                              
round manager position for that area.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART said  the  division meets  regularly  with the  local                                                              
working  groups,   shares  information,  and  attempts   to  reach                                                              
consensus  on in-season  decisions.   Often there  is accord,  but                                                              
not always;  however, the  division uses  the disagreement  points                                                              
as learning opportunities.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT stressed  the importance  to have  year-a-                                                              
round  management  for  the Arctic,  Yukon,  and  Kuskokwim  (AYK)                                                              
area.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART  agreed, and  said that  staffing an imbedded  manager                                                              
is the  goal; however,  the Bethel  office has  been difficult  to                                                              
staff  year-a-round  and  in  recent  years  has  had  a  seasonal                                                              
manager who works out of Anchorage.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  asked whether  a communication plan  is in                                                              
place  to help ease  the closure  situations.   She reported  that                                                              
small, AYK  communities can  be devastated  and their  livelihoods                                                              
threatened through the closure actions.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART  agreed that outreach  is important and  described the                                                              
pre-season and  in-season activities  for informing  the residents                                                              
of predicted actions  and in-season occurrences.   He reminded the                                                              
members  that  federal  waters   are  also  included  in  the  AYK                                                              
drainage.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  stressed the  importance  to position  an                                                              
employee  who  will be  a  stable  presence and  glean  beneficial                                                              
institutional  knowledge  of  the  area.    Local  talent  may  be                                                              
necessary  to   ensure  stability,   when  staffing   a  fisheries                                                              
manager.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:33:08 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART reviewed  the research that is on-going  regarding the                                                              
interactions of hatchery  fish with wild stocks.   The legislature                                                              
initiated funding  but the industry is now  financially sustaining                                                              
the work.   It is  a long-term project  that is expected  to yield                                                              
better salmon  research and  enhance the department's  partnership                                                              
with  the industry.   He  described the  laboratory services  that                                                              
the division actively  supports, which include:   pathology, coded                                                              
wire  tag and  otolith aging,  and  genetic stock  identification.                                                              
The division hosts  four management regions, which  are:  Westward                                                              
comprised of Kodiak  and points west through the  Aleutian islands                                                              
including  Chignik, False  Pass and Dutch  Harbor; Arctic,  Yukon,                                                              
and  Kuskokwim (AYK)  comprised of  lands north  of the  Kuskokwim                                                              
River and  taking in the Yukon  River, Kotzebue Sound,  and Norton                                                              
Sound;  Central comprised  of the  points south  of the  Kuskokwim                                                              
and extending  west from  Cordova to  Bristol Bay; and  Southeast,                                                              
which encompasses the panhandle, through Yakutat, to Cordova.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:34:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES recalled  that when the Bering Sea  was rationalized,                                                              
a cap was  placed on the percentage  of the quota that  any single                                                              
entity could  hold, and  asked about  capping the quota  ownership                                                              
prior  to a  possible rationalization  program  being invoked  for                                                              
the  GOA.   An  entity is  currently  purchasing  real estate  and                                                              
boats  in  anticipation  and,  she   opined,  without  appropriate                                                              
planning "it could end up as a one-horse town."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART  offered to provide  further information,  and include                                                              
the work that is underway in collaboration with DOL.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:36:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART  reviewed  the 2014  regional  highlights,  beginning                                                              
with  the  AYK area,  which  included:    the Chinook  salmon  run                                                              
exceeded  the  forecast;  the  successful  use  of  dip  nets  for                                                              
harvesting  chum salmon  while  releasing  Chinook salmon,  proved                                                              
successful;  Kotzebue's  commercial chum  salmon  harvest was  the                                                              
second largest on  record; Norton Sound had a  salmon harvest that                                                              
ranked as  the highest  since 1998;  and Norton  Sound also  had a                                                              
profitable  red king crab  fishery, which  had an ex-vessel  value                                                              
of $1.96  million.   The Westward  region, being  the home  of the                                                              
largest  crab  and  groundfish   fisheries  in  Alaska,  reported:                                                              
nearly  60  million  pounds  of Pacific  cod  harvested  in  state                                                              
waters;  and  the Bristol  Bay  red  king crab  fishery  harvested                                                              
nearly 10 million  pounds for an ex-vessel value  estimated at $61                                                              
million.  The  Central region reported an all  species Bristol Bay                                                              
harvest  value  of  $196.6  million,  maintaining  the  status  of                                                              
Alaska's  most valuable  salmon  fishery; and  the Prince  William                                                              
Sound  pink salmon  harvest reached  36.8  million fish.   In  the                                                              
Southeast region,  the summer Dungeness  crab season was  the most                                                              
successful  in  recent  history,  with  a  total  value  of  $12.2                                                              
million; and  the pink  salmon harvest  was better than  expected,                                                              
with a harvest of 31 million fish.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:38:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART reviewed  the economic impact of the  seafood industry                                                              
on Alaska's economy,  to report:  63,100 jobs  generated, that are                                                              
combined  in  the  areas of  harvesting,  processing  and  related                                                              
support  industries; 41,530  of these  jobs are  held by  [Alaskan                                                              
residents];  $1.73  billion is  generated  in direct  payments  to                                                              
labor, with  $1.28 billion going  to Alaskan residents;  and total                                                              
sales of Alaskan caught product totaling about $4.6 billion.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:38:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART directed  attention  to the  committee handout  page,                                                              
titled "Exvessel  Value of Alaska's Commercial  Fisheries" showing                                                              
the graphed results  for salmon, shellfish, halibut,  herring, and                                                              
groundfish  from 1977-2013, in  millions of  dollars.   He pointed                                                              
out that  since 2004,  following steady  declines, there  has been                                                              
an uptick,  which he  attributed to an  increase in  salmon value.                                                              
He  followed this  with another  graph,  titled "1878-2014  Alaska                                                              
Salmon Catches  and Value," to  provide a historic  perspective of                                                              
the salmon  industry and  include the  2014 preliminary  outcomes.                                                              
Indicated on  the graph are  points of  interest such as  the year                                                              
that  the  state  began  managing   the  salmon  harvest  and  the                                                              
inception  of limited  entry.   He  opined  that, although  Mother                                                              
Nature continues  to contribute to  the outcomes, the  fishery has                                                              
had  record  success,  during  the last  ten  years,  under  state                                                              
management.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:39:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART said  the  statewide  division staff  [projected  for                                                              
2016] are  for 308  permanent and 433  seasonal positions,  to man                                                              
20  permanent   offices  and  84  seasonal   offices/field  camps.                                                              
Addressing  the FY16  budget,  he indicated  a  total request  for                                                              
$71,341.7  million,  with  a  breakout  comprised  of  62  percent                                                              
unrestricted  general   fund  dollars,  10.5   percent  designated                                                              
general  fund dollars,  14.3  percent federal  contributions,  and                                                              
13.2 percent from other sources.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:40:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGNART  discussed the  highlights from  2014, which  included                                                              
strong  salmon harvests  that were  above average  in many  areas,                                                              
increased   crab   harvests   albeit  in   federal   waters,   and                                                              
advancement    in   information    received   via    technological                                                              
innovations   including  electronic   landing   and  fish   ticket                                                              
reporting.   Finally, he  alluded to the  effects that  the fiscal                                                              
challenges  will incur,  which include:    fewer stock  assessment                                                              
and   research  projects;   greater   uncertainty  in   population                                                              
estimates,   trends,   and   forecasts;   in  some   cases,   more                                                              
conservative management  will be  employed; and a  limited ability                                                              
to support new fisheries.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:41:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked  whether  northerly  based  geoduck                                                              
permits have  been requested  since the  legislature provided  for                                                              
the action.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGNART   reported   that  no  permit   requests  have   been                                                              
submitted.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:42:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  asked on  behalf of  Representative Herron,  whether                                                              
the  division  anticipates  re-staffing the  Round  Island  walrus                                                              
sanctuary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON reported  that  the cost  is about  $100,000,                                                              
for a  staff of  two, for  three months.   Plans  are to meet  the                                                              
need for  protecting the walrus  and allow visitors to  the island                                                              
without allocating  those funds  to that  project.  To  accomplish                                                              
this  goal,   electronic  visitor  registration  and   user  group                                                              
partnerships are being sought.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:44:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES asked  what  measures the  department  will take  to                                                              
comply with the governor's request for budget reduction.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON  indicated   that  one  example  is  how  the                                                              
commercial  division  has  prioritized   projects  and  eliminated                                                              
those low  on the list; the  other divisions have  done similarly.                                                              
An  area that  will  not be  reduced,  he said,  is  the cost  for                                                              
supporting  the  board and  maintaining  the opportunity  for  the                                                              
public  to participate  in those  meetings.   He pointed out  that                                                              
one  valuable source  of funding  comes from  private user  groups                                                              
who contribute  to the department  to help finance projects.   New                                                              
partnerships  are  being  sought.    Additionally,  these  private                                                              
contributions  assist  in  meeting the  requirement  for  matching                                                              
federal funds;  which has seen  a rise in  receipts.  He  said the                                                              
match is a 1:3  ratio, where one state dollar is  matched by three                                                              
from the federal Pitman-Roberts program.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:46:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  recalled  that   many  members   of  the                                                              
Anchorage advisory  board have recently  resigned, but  offered to                                                              
hold the question for the confirmation hearing.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON returned  to  the member's  earlier  question                                                              
regarding public  communication, to state that  the administration                                                              
is  prioritizing  improvement  in   this  area  and  welcomes  all                                                              
feedback.   Regarding another member's  interest in  the potential                                                              
for rearing Chinook  salmon at the Fairbanks hatchery,  he assured                                                              
the committee that the cost estimates would be made available.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:48:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES thanked  the  participants  and announced  the  next                                                              
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further business  before the committee,  the House                                                              
Special  Committee on  Fisheries  meeting was  adjourned at  ll:48                                                              
a.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2015 House Fisheries Committee Fisheries Overview.pdf HFSH 2/3/2015 10:00:00 AM