Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

03/17/2015 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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10:02:29 AM Start
10:03:11 AM Presentation: Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation
10:24:38 AM Confirmation Hearing: Commissioner Alaska Department of Fish & Game (adf&g)
10:42:13 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation by Norm Van Vactor, CEO, Bristol TELECONFERENCED
Bay Economic Development Corp
+ Confirmation Hearing: TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Sam Cotten, Dept. of Fish & Game
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         March 17, 2015                                                                                         
                           10:02 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Bob Herron                                                                                                       
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Craig Johnson                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S):  BRISTOL BAY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION                                                                  
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME (ADF&G), COMMISSIONER                                                                          
     Sam Cotten - Juneau                                                                                                        
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
NORMAN VAN VACTOR, President and Chief Executive Officer                                                                        
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC)                                                                            
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided a presentation regarding the loss                                                               
of limited entry fishing licenses from the Bristol Bay region.                                                                  
ROBIN SAMUELSON, Chairman                                                                                                       
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC)                                                                            
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided a presentation  regarding the loss                                                             
of limited entry fishing licenses from the Bristol Bay region.                                                                  
SAM COTTEN                                                                                                                      
Commissioner Designee                                                                                                           
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified as the  Commissioner Designee for                                                             
the   Alaska   Department  of   Fish   &   Game,  discussed   his                                                               
qualifications and answered questions.                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
10:02:29 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries  meeting  to  order  at  10:02  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Stutes, Kreiss-Tomkins,  and Ortiz  were present  at the  call to                                                               
order.   Representatives Millett,  Herron, and Foster  arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
^PRESENTATION:  BRISTOL BAY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION                                                                    
 PRESENTATION(S):  BRISTOL BAY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION                                                             
10:03:11 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES announced  that the  first order  of business  is a                                                               
presentation   from   the   Bristol  Bay   Economic   Development                                                               
10:03:55 AM                                                                                                                   
NORMAN  VAN  VACTOR,  President   and  Chief  Executive  Officer,                                                               
Bristol Bay Economic Development  Corporation (BBEDC), provided a                                                               
presentation   from   the   Bristol  Bay   Economic   Development                                                               
Corporation regarding  the ongoing loss of  limited entry fishing                                                               
licenses   from  Bristol   Bay  communities   and  region.     He                                                               
paraphrased  from a  prepared statement,  which  read as  follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     The ongoing exacerbation of the  loss [of] ownership of                                                                    
     our Salmon resource is not  a problem that is unique to                                                                    
     Bristol Bay  and our communities  but is a  pain shared                                                                    
     but most  of coastal  and rural Alaska.   That  said as                                                                    
     Bristol Bay  has the largest sockeye  salmon fishery in                                                                    
     the  world we  tend to  get referenced  and cited  more                                                                    
     than  the next.   In  the context  of permit  ownership                                                                    
     coastal Alaska has  developed a trend that  needs to be                                                                    
     first stopped  in its tracks  and reversed.   While the                                                                    
     facts  and statistics  I cite  are specific  to Bristol                                                                    
     Bay  I  know  the  same   trends  are  playing  out  in                                                                    
     communities  such as  Kodiak, Cordova,  Hoonah, Angoon,                                                                    
     and Petersburg just to name a few.                                                                                         
     I had  the pleasure  several months  ago of  serving on                                                                    
     the Governor's  Fisheries Transition  team and  in fact                                                                    
     chaired the  group of dedicated community  and industry                                                                    
     participants.   One  of the  5 major  issues that  this                                                                    
     group asked  the new administration to  address was the                                                                    
     goal   of  "returning   the   ownership"  of   Alaska's                                                                    
     Fisheries  resources  to  the  communities  of  coastal                                                                    
     What's the Need and why the importance.                                                                                    
     -Locally  held permits  &  salmon  fishing revenue  are                                                                    
     vital to the economic health of the region                                                                                 
     -Locally held permits continue to decline and sharply.                                                                     
     -Residents lack  access to  capital and  financing that                                                                    
     allow entry to our fisheries.                                                                                              
     -Existing programs  are still not meeting  the needs of                                                                    
     our residents to compete for permits.                                                                                      
     -Bristol Bay as a region  depends heavily on fishing as                                                                    
     the major revenue contributor.                                                                                             
     -As ownership of  permits leave the region  so does the                                                                    
     revenue they generate.  I'm  sure the multiplier effect                                                                    
     needs no explanation.  The  $100,000 gross revenue that                                                                    
     a  permit might  generate  actually stimulates  several                                                                    
     hundred thousand dollars of economic activity.                                                                             
     -We  have over  time  started  perpetuating a  negative                                                                    
     feedback loop  that further perpetuates the  decline of                                                                    
     permits & crews.                                                                                                           
     -Some of these statistics are  dated now by a few years                                                                    
     but let me share a few.                                                                                                    
     -Bristol  Bay  has  now  lost almost  44%  of  all  the                                                                    
     permits  originally  issued   to  watershed  residents.                                                                    
     Bristol  Bay  Residents  now  hold  under  25%  of  all                                                                    
     Bristol Bay  permits.  Originally 28%  of all residents                                                                    
     held one  type of permit  or another.  Today  it's less                                                                    
     than 10%.                                                                                                                  
     How do Permits Leave?                                                                                                      
     Transfers -  About 62% of  all permits are lost  due to                                                                    
     transfers.   Most  of  these transfer  are  made up  of                                                                    
     Migration - Migration constitutes about 25%.                                                                               
     Other - Makes up the difference  of about 13%.  This is                                                                    
     largely  made-up  of   foreclosures,  revocations,  and                                                                    
     Why do Permits Leave?                                                                                                      
     Permits  are  randomly  distributed based  on  economic                                                                    
     principles  amongst potential  owners.   Most of  these                                                                    
     potential  owners are  non-residents  who have  greater                                                                    
     access to capital and credit  giving them a competitive                                                                    
     acquisition advantage.                                                                                                     
     Average local permit owners harvest  25% less than non-                                                                    
     residents.    Higher  earning mean  non-residents  view                                                                    
     permits as  having a  higher intrinsic  economic value.                                                                    
     Our people are not any  less the fisher people than the                                                                    
     next, they  just approach the fishery  from a different                                                                    
     social  perspective rooted  in resource  protection and                                                                    
     Sales and transfer of permits  tend to rise both at the                                                                    
     top  of  the  fish  price  curve  and  at  the  bottom.                                                                    
     Without  a retention  program both  these price  points                                                                    
     result in a significant acceleration of loss's.                                                                            
     Prior to  joining BBEDC a  little over two years  ago I                                                                    
     had spent close  to 30 years working  for Seattle based                                                                    
     major  processor.    One of  my  major  accomplishments                                                                    
     during that  tenure was building  what was  the largest                                                                    
     resident Alaska  fleet in the  industry.  To  cite just                                                                    
     one  community  as an  example,  the  community of  New                                                                    
     Stuyahok, they had over 24  permits that fished for us.                                                                    
     I believe today that number is closer to 8.                                                                                
     Some say that turning  this trend around is impossible,                                                                    
     accept it  and move on.   This  for us is  a completely                                                                    
     unacceptable  response  and  we  do  believe  that  are                                                                    
     23  years  ago  98%   of  the  Bering  Sea's  fisheries                                                                    
     resource  was  owned  and  controlled  by  Non-Alaskans                                                                    
     living  in  the Pacific  Northwest.    Today 6  Alaskan                                                                    
     Community  Development   Corporation,  100%   owned  by                                                                    
     resident Alaskan's  of all stripes  and skin  color own                                                                    
     over  30% of  the  resource  and growing.    We did  it                                                                    
     offshore with the Federal's governments  help and a 10%                                                                    
     stake, why  can't we do  something near shore  with the                                                                    
     State's help.                                                                                                              
     The  onshore offshore  issues  are certainly  different                                                                    
     and  our onshore  coastal issues  will  require a  very                                                                    
     different solution set.  I  think I'm also smart enough                                                                    
     to know  that now is also  NOT the best time  to coming                                                                    
     to the  State with  our hands  out and we  are NOT.   I                                                                    
     reiterate.  We are not.                                                                                                    
     Bristol Bay  Economic Development Corporation  has been                                                                    
     trying to help turn the tide.   For the last 7 years we                                                                    
     have had an active permit  retention plan in place.  We                                                                    
     are making progress  but have a long way to  go and but                                                                    
     we need your  help.  We estimate that  we are currently                                                                    
     loosing approximately  15 resident permits a  year.  In                                                                    
     the year 2014  just completed we had 7  saves, our best                                                                    
     year yet.  That said until  that number is 15 or higher                                                                    
     we still aren't even breaking even.                                                                                        
     The cause of  permit losses are complex and  so are the                                                                    
     solutions.   Restoration  will require  a  mix of  long                                                                    
     term  programs.    With  that  however  will  come  the                                                                    
     opportunities   to  restore   the  ownership   of  this                                                                    
     tremendous economic  engine to  our communities.   Well                                                                    
     trained and adequately  financed fishermen will succeed                                                                    
     and we  hope to be part  of the solution.   We ask that                                                                    
     when  you   our  legislature  see   opportunity's  that                                                                    
     support  the   goal  of  returning  the   ownership  of                                                                    
     Alaska's coastal  fisheries to Coastal Alaskans  we can                                                                    
     get your bipartisan and unequivocal support.                                                                               
     Let's "Bring it All Back Home".                                                                                            
10:12:25 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  addressed Mr.  Van Vactor's  statement that                                                               
the solutions are complex and  will require a variety of options.                                                               
He asked whether  there is one particular area  of legislation or                                                               
legislative focus that is needed to get things back on track.                                                                   
MR. VAN VACTOR  replied there is not one silver  bullet, but said                                                               
many  ideas are  being floated.    It merits  an ongoing  serious                                                               
conversation, whether  it is a  task force or the  continuance of                                                               
some very  specific conversations.   He  said BBEDC  is extremely                                                               
grateful  to  what  the  Commercial  Fisheries  Entry  Commission                                                               
(CFEC)  has accomplished  over time  for the  fisheries resource,                                                               
and urged  that the concerns of  all parties be heard.   Although                                                               
community  permit banking  is  in  its infancy  and  needs to  be                                                               
pursued, he advised, it is a concept that appears to have merit.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ   noted  there  are  existing   state  loan                                                               
programs to assist Alaska fishermen  in gaining access to permits                                                               
and  boats.   He  inquired  whether  these programs  are  working                                                               
effectively or need changes that would help meet BBEDC's goals.                                                                 
MR.  VAN VACTOR  responded the  state and  the Alaska  Commercial                                                               
Fishing and Agriculture Bank (CFAB)  currently have loan programs                                                               
that are the  backbone of what BBEDC is currently  doing, and the                                                               
seven saves  made by BBEDC  in 2014  were done by  working within                                                               
that  system.    Currently,  BBEDC   is  working  with  qualified                                                               
residents, assisting  them with  the process, and  assisting them                                                               
with a  significant portion of  the down payment required  in the                                                               
form of a gift  to the individuals.  Then, for  a period of time,                                                               
BBEDC will continue  working with them and even  assist them with                                                               
the financial payments, specifically  the interest payments every                                                               
year.   It is a huge  undertaking for an individual  to step into                                                               
this  fishery because  permits are  currently priced  at $160,000                                                               
together  with  a  competitive  fishing  vessel  being  a  couple                                                               
hundred  thousand dollars.    He described  it  as a  significant                                                               
barrier  to  entry  that  BBEDC  is trying  to  help  its  people                                                               
overcome, he  advised.   He pointed  out that at  the end  of the                                                               
day,  there is  nothing that  precludes BBEDC  from assisting  an                                                               
individual,  pouring  a  tremendous  amount of  money  into  that                                                               
individual's  specific  operation, and  then  five  or six  years                                                               
later still see that permit leave the region.                                                                                   
10:17:28 AM                                                                                                                   
ROBIN  SAMUELSON,  Chairman,  Bristol  Bay  Economic  Development                                                               
Corporation  (BBEDC), provided  a brief  biography, stating  that                                                               
his  great,  great  grandfather  started  the  first  cannery  in                                                               
Bristol Bay and  prior to that his relatives  were subsisting off                                                               
Bristol Bay  fish.   He noted  he has served  three years  on the                                                               
Board of  Fisheries and nine  years on the North  Pacific Fishery                                                               
Management Council.   He started fishing in a 22  foot skiff when                                                               
he was  14 years old  and recounted  that the Japanese  high seas                                                               
driftnet fleet  once threatened the  region's fishery  by corking                                                               
off the rivers.  He pointed out  that it was so bad that Governor                                                               
Egan notified  the federal government [and  eventually] there was                                                               
a  withdrawal of  the high  seas driftnet  fleet.   Limited entry                                                               
came into play and  he got his permit as a  young person, plus he                                                               
helped  other people  in the  bay get  a permit.   It  is a  good                                                               
program, but  now at  age 64  he is seeing  permits exit  the bay                                                               
every year.   He has been  chairman of BBEDC since  its inception                                                               
and was  the president and  chief executive officer prior  to Mr.                                                               
Van Vactor.   Most  of the people  he represents  are subsistence                                                               
people, Alaska  Natives who  live in villages  where there  is 80                                                               
percent unemployment, making every  dollar very important and, he                                                               
said,  at 40  cents  a pound  nobody makes  money,  not even  the                                                               
topnotch fishermen.   The people  he represents cannot  go borrow                                                               
money and  the only  thing they  have for  sale are  their Native                                                               
allotments and their  drift or set net permits;  therefore, a lot                                                               
of  the sales  in  Bristol  Bay were  in  desperation from  local                                                               
residents.  He allowed there  were speculators who got permits in                                                               
Bristol Bay and sold  them.  He said he foresees  a future in the                                                               
state  of having  a limited  entry program  in Bristol  Bay where                                                               
probably 90 percent of the  permits are going to be non-residents                                                               
which  was  never  the  intent  of  the  limited  entry  program.                                                               
Sustainable economies  need to be created  within the communities                                                               
of  Bristol  Bay and  elsewhere  in  the  state  and one  way  to                                                               
accomplish that is  to figure out a way to  get more permits into                                                               
the hands of  the watershed residents, he explained.   He related                                                               
that [Bristol Bay]  is losing hundreds of millions  of dollars by                                                               
folks  coming up,  fishing the  resource, and  taking that  money                                                               
back to their respective communities.                                                                                           
MR. SAMUELSON said  BBEDC has done everything it can.   The first                                                               
permit sale  he made at  BBEDC to a  watershed resident was  to a                                                               
20-year-old woman  who met  the qualifications  and she  is still                                                               
fishing today,  but what BBEDC is  doing is not enough,  he said.                                                               
The  current  limited entry  program  needs  to be  reviewed  and                                                               
different avenues figured  out for getting more  permits into the                                                               
hands of watershed  residents.  As oil prices  dwindle there will                                                               
be budget cuts  and Rural Alaska will feel those  extra hard.  In                                                               
the last  20-30 years there has  been a tidal wave  of prosperity                                                               
in Alaska due to  oil, but what is being faced  today is scary to                                                               
Rural Alaskans.   He  said, this year  54 million  sockeye salmon                                                               
will return to  Bristol Bay and no other place  on earth has that                                                               
kind of  resource which is  why residents don't like  Pebble Mine                                                               
as they don't  want that mine to ruin their  waters.  Bristol Bay                                                               
has a  fish-first policy that  has carried the  residents through                                                               
for  thousands  of years,  and  he  urged  the committee  to  use                                                               
extreme caution in dealing with  limited entry and give residents                                                               
ample time to  respond to any proposals.  He  explained there are                                                               
1,800 drift permits and 1,000 set  net permits in Bristol Bay and                                                               
what is left  is very important.  He expressed  that ownership of                                                               
permits by watershed residents must be increased.                                                                               
^CONFIRMATION HEARING:  COMMISSIONER  ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH &                                                               
GAME (ADF&G)                                                                                                                    
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                
     COMMISSIONER ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME (ADF&G)                                                                  
10:24:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES announced  that the  final order  of business  is a                                                               
confirmation hearing  for the  commissioner of  Alaska Department                                                               
of Fish & Game.                                                                                                                 
10:25:29 AM                                                                                                                   
SAM COTTEN,  Commissioner Designee,  Alaska Department of  Fish &                                                               
Game  (ADF&G), stated  he has  had extensive  hands-on experience                                                               
with  many  different types  of  fisheries  and fairly  extensive                                                               
experience  working  with  local governments  and  advocating  on                                                               
their  behalf in  front of  fishery  boards.   He said  he was  a                                                               
member of  the North Pacific  Fishery Management  Council (NPFMC)                                                               
for six years,  which gave him a lot of  hands-on experience with                                                               
fisheries management issues.   He then cited his  experience as a                                                               
representative in the Alaska State  Legislature and noted that in                                                               
addition to  serving in  the legislature he  has worked  with the                                                               
legislature, especially in the fish and game arena.                                                                             
10:27:07 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES,  in  regard to  conflicts  between  the  different                                                               
fishing   sectors,  asked   whether  the   commissioner  designee                                                               
believes he has the ability to  remain impartial and work for the                                                               
good of all the sectors.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  replied he has  not been involved in  any of                                                               
the fisheries  that are  addressed by  the North  Pacific Fishery                                                               
Management Council, which are federal  fisheries.  His commercial                                                               
fishing experience  is pretty much restricted  to salmon fishing.                                                               
He was  a purse  seiner in the  Lower Cook Inlet  where he  had a                                                               
permit for 25  years, and has fished a few  other places as well.                                                               
He advised  that when  he worked for  the Aleutian  East Borough,                                                               
the borough  was often the  center of allocation  battles between                                                               
other areas, and  as a result he  came to know many  of the other                                                               
areas pretty well,  such as Norton Sound, Bristol  Bay, the river                                                               
systems, Kodiak,  and Chignik.   He related  that he  became well                                                               
educated on the concerns of  other people, especially in the Area                                                               
M fishery.   He pointed out that for the  fishery he participated                                                               
in, in his  kids still fish there.  Therefore,  he signed off his                                                               
executive  order authority  to the  deputy commissioner  so there                                                               
won't be  any concerns  about not being  impartial in  that area.                                                               
As far  as the rest  of the state, he  believes he is  offering a                                                               
balanced approach  and he doesn't  feel he has  any pre-conceived                                                               
biases.  He related that the  only exception is his voting on the                                                               
North  Pacific  Fishery Management  Council  where  he is  fairly                                                               
parochial  and votes  pro-Alaska because  occasionally the  state                                                               
must  fight to  remove some  disadvantages that  Alaska fishermen                                                               
10:29:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES understood  there  is a  promotion  to pursue  more                                                               
observing on  the vessels in  the state.  She  further understood                                                               
that most  of the East  Coast fisheries are federally  funded for                                                               
their observer coverage,  whereas that is not the  case in Alaska                                                               
and that seems inequitable.                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN confirmed  the aforementioned  is true,  and                                                               
comments  have been  made on  that subject  as there  has been  a                                                               
struggle with  the federal agencies  on budget issues  like that,                                                               
and  this is  still  ongoing.   In  the Bering  Sea  most of  the                                                               
observer coverage is  paid for by the vessel owner.   In the Gulf                                                               
of  Alaska   the  new  observer  program   taxes  each  fisherman                                                               
participating in the federal fisheries  with a 1.25 percent gross                                                               
tax;  the  tax goes  into  a  fund  that  pays for  the  observer                                                               
coverage in  the gulf.   So,  yes, the fishermen  pay for  it, he                                                               
CHAIR STUTES reiterated that this is inequitable.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER COTTEN agreed.                                                                                                     
10:31:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON expressed his  support for the commissioner                                                               
designee.  He asked whether  the designee feels confident that he                                                               
will know  what to do with  the commissionership now that  he has                                                               
this position and will be able to lead the department.                                                                          
COMMISSIONER COTTEN answered that close  to 1,700 people work for                                                               
ADF&G and  most are  accomplished professionals,  scientists, and                                                               
biologists, and he  would be crazy not to  immediately admit that                                                               
he  has a  lot to  learn from  them.   The department  is a  good                                                               
professional  organization with  a  well-defined  mission in  the                                                               
statutes and  the constitution that  he understands.   He related                                                               
that he has  some ideas about how to  improve communications with                                                               
the public, and  would like to diminish some  of the polarization                                                               
taking   place  in   Alaska  on   allocation  issues,   and  open                                                               
communication will help that.  He said he feels up to the task.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON commented  that  he  and the  commissioner                                                               
designee   have  had   some  private   conversations  about   the                                                               
challenges on  the Kuskokwim  and he will  continue to  work with                                                               
the commissioner on that.                                                                                                       
10:33:27 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS    requested   the   commissioner                                                               
designee speak to the permit  losses happening in Bristol Bay and                                                               
around the state.                                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  replied  that  he met  with  the  gentlemen                                                               
addressing  the  committee  earlier  today  and  understands  the                                                               
issue, adding that it is not  just salmon permits.  He continued,                                                               
"We see  access to  Alaska's fisheries  as a threat  in a  lot of                                                               
different arenas and  the federal fisheries is one of  them."  He                                                               
said  the department  supports efforts  to reverse  the trend  of                                                               
permit  loss and  indicated  there has  been  a discussion  about                                                               
legislation possibly  introduced that  would direct  attention to                                                               
that issue  and maybe  end up  with solutions to  it.   There are                                                               
legal and other  challenges that should not  dissuade [the state]                                                               
from aggressively  pursuing that  cause.  Opportunity  and access                                                               
to the fishery  resources by people who live  in Alaska's fishing                                                               
communities   is  an   extremely  important   priority  for   the                                                               
department, he stressed.                                                                                                        
10:35:33 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  requested the commissioner designee  to address the                                                               
by-catch issue.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  responded that  by-catch is  a multi-faceted                                                               
issue and  the primary  by-catch species  deals with  halibut and                                                               
Chinook salmon.   Other salmon species, such as  chum salmon, are                                                               
also by-catch targets in the Bering  Sea.  Of concern, he pointed                                                               
out, is that if the fleet is  pulled away from the chum salmon it                                                               
might  direct the  fleet toward  the Chinook  salmon, so  choices                                                               
must be  made.  The  North Pacific Fishery Management  Council is                                                               
doing its best  to reduce by-catch to the  extent practicable for                                                               
both species in the Bering Sea.   He remarked that the limits for                                                               
by-catch will  be brought  up at the  council's next  meeting for                                                               
the  Bering Sea,  April  2015,  and the  council  will address  a                                                               
reduction  of  the  by-catch  limits  for  the  pollock  fishery,                                                               
primarily in the Bering Sea.   Chinook salmon numbers are low and                                                               
it has been  determined that at times of low  abundance like this                                                               
that the  by-catch caps  should be  lower as well.   He  said the                                                               
intention at next month's council  meeting is to bring those caps                                                               
down  significantly during  these times  of low  abundance.   The                                                               
halibut by-catch in the Bering Sea  has also been a major concern                                                               
because  halibut numbers  have been  down over  the last  several                                                               
years, so  the quotas have  gone down significantly  for directed                                                               
fishermen and  the people who  live in  St. Paul or  other Alaska                                                               
fishermen who fish  in the Bering Sea for halibut.   However, the                                                               
halibut  available  as by-catch  has  remained  pretty stable  to                                                               
folks who  bottom fish for  species like yellowfin sole  and rock                                                               
sole.  These  are federal fisheries, so [the NPFMC]  is guided by                                                               
national  standards that  suggest  [the NPFMC]  should allow  for                                                               
optimum yield;  in other words,  whatever the biologists  say can                                                               
be harvested  should try to  be achieved  while at the  same time                                                               
reducing  by-catch to  the extent  practicable.   He noted,  that                                                               
while it is a  balance, it is felt that recently  it has been out                                                               
of balance.   For example, the  St. Paul fishermen are  told that                                                               
there are little  or no fish left for them  because they were all                                                               
used for  by-catch for  the trawl  fleets.   [The NPFMC]  will be                                                               
addressing that issue at its  June [2015] meeting, and is already                                                               
receiving complaints  from the  trawl industry  that it  is money                                                               
taken away from them and they don't like it.                                                                                    
CHAIR STUTES  remarked that  neither did  the St.  Paul fishermen                                                               
when they were told there was no halibut for them.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER COTTEN noted  that the Chinook salmon  in the Bering                                                               
Sea  is  with  the  pollock  fishery, and  halibut  is  with  the                                                               
groundfish  fisheries and  the Gulf  of Alaska  is generally  the                                                               
same situation.   He explained that in the  midwater, the pollock                                                               
fleet catches  the most  Chinook salmon  and limits  have finally                                                               
been set there as a couple  of big events within the western Gulf                                                               
of  Alaska  caused everyone  to  realize  that  there had  to  be                                                               
limits, and  they are now in  place.  He explained  there are two                                                               
different sets of limits - one  for the pollock fishery, which is                                                               
25,000 fish  divided about 2/3 east  and 1/3 west; and  the other                                                               
is  the  non-pollock fishery,  which  is  a much  smaller  number                                                               
divided amongst gear groups, and  this year is concern that those                                                               
limits might  be reached or  dangerously close to  being reached.                                                               
He  said a  big difference  between the  Gulf of  Alaska and  the                                                               
Bering  Sea is  that within  the Bering  Sea, the  Chinook salmon                                                               
harvested as  by-catch are primarily  Western Alaska  fish headed                                                               
for the  Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak,  and Unalakleet  Rivers that                                                               
have a  very high subsistence dependence.   He said for  the Gulf                                                               
of Alaska,  the genetic  work so  far suggests  that most  of the                                                               
Chinook salmon harvested there are  not Alaska fish, but reducing                                                               
the by-catch as  much as possible is still required.   He related                                                               
that many  people want  those fish  so even  though they  are not                                                               
Alaska fish, the  issue cannot be ignored.  He  remarked that the                                                               
by-catch limits for  halibut in the Gulf of  Alaska were recently                                                               
reduced and part of the  industry petitioned for a new management                                                               
plan that  would include allowing  those fishermen to  enter into                                                               
cooperatives as they would also  like to have permanent ownership                                                               
of  the fishing  rights.   However, he  pointed out,  [the Walker                                                               
Administration]  isn't  convinced  those privileges  need  to  be                                                               
assigned in order to accomplish the by-catch reduction goals.                                                                   
10:41:35 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ moved to forward  the name of Mr. Sam Cotten                                                               
[to the joint  session of the House and  Senate for confirmation.                                                               
A  member's signature  of the  report  regarding appointments  to                                                               
boards  and commissions  in no  way reflects  individual members'                                                               
approval or  disapproval of the  appointees; the  nominations are                                                               
merely  forwarded to  the full  legislature  for confirmation  or                                                               
rejection.]  There being no  objection, Mr. Cotten's confirmation                                                               
was advanced from the House Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                     
10:42:13 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Fisheries meeting  was adjourned  at 10:42                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
DFG - Cotten Resume.pdf HFSH 3/17/2015 10:00:00 AM
Cotten Resume DFG
Van Vactor Presentation.pdf HFSH 3/17/2015 10:00:00 AM
ATA Support Sam Cotten.pdf HFSH 3/17/2015 10:00:00 AM
Cotten Support