Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

01/28/2016 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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10:00:25 AM Start
10:00:55 AM Presentation: Young Fishermen's Summit
10:57:10 AM Presentation: Southeast Alaska Regional Guides Organization on Regional Quota Entities/catch Proposal
11:40:46 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change from Capitol 120 --
"Young Fishermen's Summit"
"Southeast Alaska Regional Guides Organization
on Regional Quota Entities/Catch Proposal"
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                        January 28, 2016                                                                                        
                           10:00 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Bob Herron                                                                                                       
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Craig Johnson                                                                                                    
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION:  YOUNG FISHERMEN'S SUMMIT                                                                                         
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PRESENTATION:  SOUTHEAST ALASKA REGIONAL GUIDES ORGANIZATION ON                                                                 
REGIONAL QUOTA ENTITIES/CATCH PROPOSAL                                                                                          
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
PAULA CULLENBERG, Director                                                                                                      
Alaska Sea Grant Program                                                                                                        
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences                                                                                          
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the presentation of the                                                                 
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
TORI CONNOR, Fisherman                                                                                                          
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the presentation of the                                                                 
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
AMANDA JOHNSTON, Fisherman                                                                                                      
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
GREGG MARXMILLER, Fisherman                                                                                                     
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
HANNAH HEIMBUCH, Fisherman                                                                                                      
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
ELSA SEBASTIAN, Fisherman                                                                                                       
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
ZACHARY HILL, Seiner                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
GARY CLINE, Regional Fisheries Director                                                                                         
Bristol Bay Economic Corporation                                                                                                
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
STEVE JOHNSON, Fisherman                                                                                                        
Wrangell, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
ALEXANDER SMITH, Fisherman                                                                                                      
Aleknagik, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
SUNNY RICE                                                                                                                      
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
BILL THOMAS, Fisherman                                                                                                          
Haines, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                                       
TOM OHAUS, Lodge Owner                                                                                                          
Sitka, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Southeast Alaska  Regional Guides Organization on  Regional Quota                                                               
Entities/Catch Proposal.                                                                                                        
RICHARD YAMADA, President                                                                                                       
Alaska Charter Association (ACA)                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Southeast Alaska  Regional Guides Organization on  Regional Quota                                                               
Entities/Catch Proposal.                                                                                                        
ANDY MEZIROW, Member                                                                                                            
North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC)                                                                              
Seward, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Southeast Alaska  Regional Guides Organization on  Regional Quota                                                               
Entities/Catch Proposal.                                                                                                      
RYAN MAKINSTER, Executive Director                                                                                              
Southeast Alaska Guides Organization (SEAGO)                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  of the                                                             
Southeast Alaska  Regional Guides Organization on  Regional Quota                                                               
Entities/Catch Proposal.                                                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
10:00:25 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries  meeting  to  order  at  10:00  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Stutes, Ortiz,  Kreiss-Tomkins, Foster, and Herron,  were present                                                               
at the call to order.                                                                                                           
^PRESENTATION:  YOUNG FISHERMEN'S SUMMIT                                                                                        
            PRESENTATION:  YOUNG FISHERMEN'S SUMMIT                                                                         
10:00:55 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
a presentation of the Young Fishermen's Summit.                                                                                 
10:01:38 AM                                                                                                                   
PAULA CULLENBERG,  Director, Alaska Sea Grant  Program, School of                                                               
Fisheries  and Ocean  Sciences,  University  of Alaska  Fairbanks                                                               
(UAF),  said  there are  33  sea  grant programs  throughout  the                                                               
United  States,  each  representing  a  partnership  between  the                                                               
National Oceanic  and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA)  and the                                                               
universities.   The mission is to  strengthen coastal communities                                                               
and  marine  resources  throughout  the state.    Fifteen  marine                                                               
advisory agents  are positioned in  eight coastal  communities to                                                               
assist in the  effort.  Ms. Cullenberg said she  co-chairs the UA                                                               
Fisheries, Seafood & Maritime  Initiative (FSMI), which developed                                                               
a  plan  to   support  the  fishing  industry   workforce.    The                                                               
Department of  Labor & Workforce  Development (DLWD)  has adopted                                                               
the plan,  along with the  UA Board of  Regents, and a  number of                                                               
municipal  groups around  the state.    It has  become a  guiding                                                               
document   for  supporting   Alaska's  huge   maritime  workforce                                                               
representing  approximately 70,000  related jobs,  which include:                                                               
fisherman,  processors,  the  ferry system,  freight  forwarders,                                                               
fisheries biologists,  researchers, shellfish farmers,  and other                                                               
positions  penetrating urban  and rural  locales.   The workforce                                                               
plan has  led to the  formation of  a new group,  Maritime Works,                                                               
which  is an  industry  group focused  on workforce  development.                                                               
She reported that  the number of programs relating  to the marine                                                               
economy have  been increased  on all three  major campuses.   The                                                               
expansions  include: the  Kodiak Marine  Seafood Science  Center,                                                               
development  of  a commercial  fishing  training  program at  the                                                               
Bristol Bay  campus, maritime  training for  the ferry  system in                                                               
Ketchikan, and Sitka  now has one and two year  programs to train                                                               
hatchery  workers.   She said  the Young  Fisherman's Summit  has                                                               
convened   for  six   consecutive   years,   with  an   aggregate                                                               
participation of approximately 300.   The summit provides a three                                                               
day  forum to  develop  professional leadership  skills, and  was                                                               
begun in response  to the graying of the fleet.   The average age                                                               
of an Alaskan fisherman is estimated to be 49 years old.                                                                        
10:06:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS asked  for  clarity regarding  the                                                               
average age trend and over what period.                                                                                         
MS.  CULLENBERG responded  that ten  years ago,  the average  age                                                               
might  have been  40,  and  the rate  of  increase is  considered                                                               
significant when combined with the  decline of permit holders who                                                               
are under  40.  The  indications are  that the ability  for young                                                               
people to enter  the industry is a concern.   Many barriers exist                                                               
for young  fisherman who must  purchase permits and  quota shares                                                               
to gain  access to  the profession.   Ms. Cullenberg  said summit                                                               
participants will provide  testimony to that end.   The summit is                                                               
hosting statewide participants with  backgrounds that represent a                                                               
diversity of fishing methods.                                                                                                   
10:11:07 AM                                                                                                                   
TORI  CONNOR,  Fisherman, outlined  the  permits  and quotas  she                                                               
holds,  which include:    a Prince  William  Sound (PWS)  permit,                                                               
Southeast hand-troll,  and 500 pounds of  declassified individual                                                               
fishing  quota (IFQ).    She expressed  concern  regarding a  one                                                               
percent landing tax proposed for  the commercial fleet and opined                                                               
that it should also include the  charter fleet.  In response to a                                                               
member's question,  she suggested  taxing the sport  fisherman as                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  confirmed  that  an  equitability                                                               
argument   may    exist:      commercial   fisheries    pay   for                                                               
enhancement/hatcheries  without  similar contributions  from  the                                                               
charter catch.                                                                                                                  
10:13:50 AM                                                                                                                   
AMANDA JOHNSTON,  Fisherman, provided  a brief background  of her                                                               
experiences,  including  overseas   travels,  and  said  Alaska's                                                               
commercial  fleet  is  extremely  unique  and  worth  preserving.                                                               
Accessibility by rural communities  and the younger generation to                                                               
the fisheries is  a concern.  As the next  generation attempts to                                                               
take over the  fishing culture, there is a fear  that it is being                                                               
lost and  may die  off.   She urged  committee members  to become                                                               
familiar firsthand with the issues  by visiting boats and fishing                                                               
10:15:33 AM                                                                                                                   
GREGG MARXMILLER, Fisherman,  said he is a fisherman  of 25 years                                                               
and  expressed  concerns  for  helping  young  people  enter  the                                                               
profession and  the difficulties associated with  the fluctuation                                                               
in  fish prices.    Not  only do  prices  vary dramatically,  but                                                               
limitations are  imposed regarding the  volume that may  be sold,                                                               
which restricts  a fisherman's ability  to make up for  low costs                                                               
by  selling more  fish.   The  fishing industry  is wrought  with                                                               
instability  and limitations,  which are  a deterrent  for anyone                                                               
considering entering the  business.  He pointed  out that options                                                               
need  to  be considered  for  making  fishing a  more  attractive                                                               
career choice.   Also, scenarios,  such as the  foreign ownership                                                               
of  the primary  Bristol  Bay  processors could  be  an area  for                                                               
scrutiny and change.                                                                                                            
10:18:04 AM                                                                                                                   
HANNAH HEIMBUCH, Fisherman, stated that she is a third                                                                          
generation, commercial salmon and halibut fisherman.  She                                                                       
paraphrased from a prepared statement, which read:                                                                              
     I  wanted  to  talk  to you  today  about  options  for                                                                    
     improving  community  access  to local  fisheries,  and                                                                    
     what  the  outmigration  of permits  and  quota  really                                                                    
     means to  coastal Alaska; because,  when we  talk about                                                                    
     fish  and the  fishing  livelihood  we're never  really                                                                    
     just  talking  about fish.    We're  talking about  the                                                                    
     wellbeing of  our coastal  communities, our  ability to                                                                    
     be self-sustaining, [enjoy]  food security both locally                                                                    
     and  across the  state,  economic  stability, and  work                                                                    
     skills.   We're  also talking  about cultural  heritage                                                                    
     and family traditions.   These are essential components                                                                    
     of  community  and  state  health  and  stability  that                                                                    
     strong  local fisheries  can support.    They are  also                                                                    
     incredibly difficult to rebuild once they are lost.                                                                        
     As  you   look  at  options  to   sustain  and  improve                                                                    
     community  access to  fisheries,  I would  urge you  to                                                                    
     consider it  in light of how  essential these fisheries                                                                    
     are to a community's well-being.                                                                                           
     I  believe you  will have  the opportunity  to consider                                                                    
     very meaningful options  for improving community access                                                                    
     to fisheries, including permit banks.                                                                                      
     While  this move  may be  complex  and challenging,  we                                                                    
     cannot  wait another  generation to  change the  status                                                                    
     quo.   We have to  prioritize the health  and stability                                                                    
     of  Alaska's coastal  communities by  protecting access                                                                    
     to fisheries.                                                                                                              
     More  than ever,  Alaska needs  the stability  of these                                                                    
     small businesses to sustain our state.                                                                                     
10:19:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  asked about  shareable insights/highlights                                                               
from  the  summit regarding  solutions  to  the out-migration  of                                                               
MS. HEIMBUCH  answered that several options  are being discussed,                                                               
including permit banks and educational permits.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON noted that  the out-migration of permits is                                                               
can  be  a  question of  economics.    He  said  there may  be  a                                                               
conundrum  that exists  in holding  a permit  locally, and  still                                                               
being able to optimize economic gains.                                                                                          
MS. HEIMBUCH  agreed.  She said  it's due to this  conundrum that                                                               
entering the fishing industry represents  such a high cost to the                                                               
new generation  of fishermen.   It's not an  impossible situation                                                               
to  overcome; however,  a structural  change in  the transfer  of                                                               
permit ownership may need to be made.                                                                                           
10:21:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS pointed  out that  the legislature                                                               
created   an   investment   program  [Department   of   Commerce,                                                               
Community,  and   Economic  Development,  Division   of  Economic                                                               
Development, Financing Section] as  an alternate lending resource                                                               
for fishermen, particularly  those entering the field.   He asked                                                               
whether  Ms. Heimbuch  had found  the  [Financial Section]  loans                                                               
personally helpful.                                                                                                             
MS. HEIMBUCH  answered yes.  She  said it is the  only reason she                                                               
holds  a permit.    Still,  she stressed,  not  everyone has  the                                                               
opportunity to  access the loans;  especially rural  Alaskans who                                                               
may not  have the  financial skills, or  credit history,  to take                                                               
advantage of the state program.                                                                                                 
10:22:27 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  asked  whether   state  loan  reforms,  or                                                               
qualification adjustments, are being  discussed at the summit; is                                                               
there a need to consider how the program operates.                                                                              
MS.  HEIMBUCH  responded  that  she  is not  aware  of  any  such                                                               
discussion.  It shouldn't necessarily  be easy to receive a loan,                                                               
she  said,  but  ways  and   means  for  educating  the  audience                                                               
regarding the process would be helpful.                                                                                         
10:23:31 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  offered that the loan  program has                                                               
been  very successful  since its  inception,  and suggested  that                                                               
additional options could provide helpful augmentation.                                                                          
10:24:00 AM                                                                                                                   
ELSA SEBASTIAN,  Fisherman, reported  that, as a  former resident                                                               
from the  historical fishing  village of  Point Baker,  Prince of                                                               
Wales   Island,  she   has   witnessed   many  potential   young,                                                               
generational  fishermen turn  away from  the industry  citing the                                                               
lack  of   economic  opportunity,  financial  burdens,   and  the                                                               
inherent risks  involved.  She  opined that when  fishing permits                                                               
are gone from a local area,  it not only effects the economy, but                                                               
entire families  and an important way  of life are lost  as well.                                                               
"I would  like to encourage  the committee to improve  access and                                                               
opportunities for Alaskan's to Alaskan fisheries," she said.                                                                    
10:25:53 AM                                                                                                                   
ZACHARY  HILL, Seiner,  recounted his  decision to  buy into  the                                                               
Kodiak region fishery  and the issues he  encountered receiving a                                                               
loan.   He  was  eventually able  to outfit  himself  via a  loan                                                               
through  the  Alaska  Commercial  Fishing  and  Agriculture  Bank                                                               
(CFAB).  He  expressed gratitude to the committee  for its timely                                                               
action  of  increasing   lending  limit  allowances,  effectively                                                               
expanding the opportunities for permit purchases through CFAB.                                                                  
10:27:26 AM                                                                                                                   
GARY  CLINE, Regional  Fisheries Director,  Bristol Bay  Economic                                                               
Corporation,  said many  of the  Bristol Bay  area villages  have                                                               
economies that rely  entirely on the fishing  industry and access                                                               
to  fishing permits  is essential.   A  permit grant  program has                                                               
been  implemented to  assist  the  residents, but  it  is a  slow                                                               
process.    The  village  of  Togiak  united  with  Copper  River                                                               
Seafoods [Inc.], and created a  small processor, and participants                                                               
receive premium  prices for the  products with good success.   He                                                               
reported monitoring the Alaska Department  of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                               
meetings  to gain  an understanding  of the  fisheries management                                                               
practices in the  area.  Due to the state  budget situation, care                                                               
for optimization  of sustainable harvest will  be more important,                                                               
he stressed.                                                                                                                    
10:32:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON asked  about the  loss of  permits in  the                                                               
region and the residual resentment that exists.                                                                                 
MR. CLINE  said many  family members will  not broach  the topic.                                                               
He recently learned  that his mother sold her permit  when he was                                                               
an infant,  which would  be a benefit  for him now.   As  a young                                                               
adult, he was urged to go  to college and not become a fisherman;                                                               
it was  a time when  drift permits  were being sold  for $15,000.                                                               
Today the same permit may cost  $180,000, as the fishery has once                                                               
again become a lucrative venture.                                                                                               
10:34:41 AM                                                                                                                   
STEVE JOHNSON,  Fisherman, said  that as a  15 year  fisherman he                                                               
would like to  offer solutions to a couple of  problems.  Being a                                                               
tender  operator,  he  related  that he  would  like  to  receive                                                               
financing through the state to  expand his operation, but lending                                                               
options are  not available  to him.   He suggested  expanding the                                                               
state program  to allow  owners to  use equity  from a  vessel as                                                               
collateral for expansion/improvement  loans.  Additionally, young                                                               
fishermen  continually  report  an  inability  to  afford  permit                                                               
costs.   Interim use  permits were once  issued to  new fishermen                                                               
who could not purchase a  full permit and he suggested revisiting                                                               
that practice.   The  opportunity would be  valuable for  a young                                                               
fisherman if it  could serve as experience equity  towards a full                                                               
permit loan.                                                                                                                    
10:36:54 AM                                                                                                                   
ALEXANDER  SMITH, Fisherman,  said the  [Department of  Commerce,                                                               
Community,  and   Economic  Development,  Division   of  Economic                                                               
Development,  Financing Section]  has been  helpful to  him as  a                                                               
Bristol  Bay  fisherman; however,  the  loan  limitations of  the                                                               
program are a concern.                                                                                                          
10:37:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  noted that 21 limited  permits are                                                               
owned  by  residents of  the  Aleknagik  community, down  from  a                                                               
historic high of 72, and the  Point Baker permits, mentioned by a                                                               
previous testifier, have declined from 89  to 18.  He asked about                                                               
the  socio-economic   impacts  on  Aleknagik  or   other  changes                                                               
observed since the permit declines.                                                                                             
MR.  SMITH answered  that tourism  provides  a seasonal  economic                                                               
boost to  the area due  to the  proximity of Aleknagik  to [Wood-                                                               
Tikchik State Park],  but fishing is the lifeblood.   The lack of                                                               
permits  cause  only  negative  impacts  and  keeps  the  village                                                               
economically suppressed.   It's a big, difficult  step to acquire                                                               
a permit and a boat, he stressed.                                                                                               
10:39:36 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  said  a  member of  his  family,  Raymond                                                               
Conquest, resides  in Aleknagik,  and asked Mr.  Smith to  draw a                                                               
comparison of  the importance of  commercial fishing  between the                                                               
two families.                                                                                                                   
MR.  SMITH  admitted to  feeling  lucky  to  be involved  in  the                                                               
fishing industry  that sustains  his family today  as it  did his                                                               
ancestors.    The  village environment  is  closed  and  requires                                                               
cooperation around the shared fishing interest, he offered.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON inquired  whether the  community has  been                                                               
impacted by the [Wood River Bridge, completed in 2015].                                                                         
MR. SMITH  responded that there  is excitement, even  among those                                                               
who  were  not  initially  supportive of  the  project.    Having                                                               
ambulance  service  has  been  a lifesaver,  and  the  access  it                                                               
provides to the park, despite  environmental concerns, provides a                                                               
possibility for economic growth.                                                                                                
10:42:09 AM                                                                                                                   
SUNNY RICE  expressed appreciation  for the  committee's interest                                                               
in hearing from the summit attendees.                                                                                           
10:42:35 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES expressed  gratitude  and personal  delight at  the                                                               
level  of  participation  being  generated  through  the  summit.                                                               
After  forty years,  her husband  has recently  retired from  the                                                               
industry and,  she said, it  is heartwarming to see  the response                                                               
from the young fishermen bringing  enthusiasm and new life to the                                                               
10:43:25 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ noted  the  seriousness of  the decline  in                                                               
resident owned permits.   He said in the  district he represents,                                                               
Hydaburg, the 62 permits owned in  1980 have dwindled to 38, with                                                               
only one active seine permit being  fished.  It is incumbent upon                                                               
the  legislature  to be  active  in  seeking  ways and  means  to                                                               
reverse this trend.                                                                                                             
10:44:44 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   HERRON   requested   comments  from   a   former                                                               
legislative member in the gallery, Representative Bill Thomas.                                                                  
10:45:15 AM                                                                                                                   
BILL  THOMAS, Fisherman,  said he  has fished  continuously since                                                               
1969.   Two permits were originally  in Haines, and one  has been                                                               
sold,  making him  the last  permit holder  in the  area; it  was                                                               
gifted to  him from  the state.   He has  endeavored to  have the                                                               
regional corporations, village  corporations, tribal governments,                                                               
and  Alaska Regional  Development Organizations  (ARDORs) be  the                                                               
permit owners.  Thus, fishermen  could lease the permits and have                                                               
easier accessibility to the industry.   The Alaskan definition of                                                               
a  successful   fisherman  is  one   who  lives  in   Seattle  or                                                               
Bellingham,  Washington, he  joked.   The exodus  of permits  has                                                               
been  ongoing, and  today  perhaps 70  percent  of the  Southeast                                                               
seine permits belong  to non-residents, as well  as 75-80 percent                                                               
from Bristol  Bay.  Many fishermen  end up in trouble  due to the                                                               
inherent fluctuating nature of dependable  income, or tax issues.                                                               
The reason he still  fishes at the age of 69,  is due to improved                                                               
fishing  methods  that  allow him  to  continue  to  successfully                                                               
participate,  including:   radar,  hydraulic  lift systems,  auto                                                               
pilots,  and higher  speed  boats.   The  permits  have left  the                                                               
state, and the individual fish  quotas will follow, he predicted,                                                               
as  they are  currently  priced at  $53.00 per  pound.   He  said                                                               
taxing  the  sport  harvest  would   be  helpful,  as  previously                                                               
mentioned.  The  caveat should be that, if you  own a permit, you                                                               
need to reside in Alaska, he opined.                                                                                            
10:49:51 AM                                                                                                                   
The committee took an at-ease from 10:50 a.m. to 10:57 a.m.                                                                     
^PRESENTATION:  SOUTHEAST ALASKA  REGIONAL GUIDES ORGANIZATION ON                                                               
REGIONAL QUOTA ENTITIES/CATCH PROPOSAL                                                                                          
PRESENTATION:  SOUTHEAST ALASKA REGIONAL GUIDES ORGANIZATION ON                                                             
             REGIONAL QUOTA ENTITIES/CATCH PROPOSAL                                                                         
10:57:10 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
a   presentation  by   the  Southeast   Alaska  Regional   Guides                                                               
Organization on Regional Quota Entities/Catch proposal.                                                                         
10:59:06 AM                                                                                                                   
TOM OHAUS, Lodge  Owner, said the halibut harvest  is overseen by                                                               
the  North  Pacific  Fishery  Management  Council  (NPFMC)  as  a                                                               
federally  managed fish;  discrimination for  state residency  is                                                               
not  a  regulatory  factor.   The  topic  for  consideration,  he                                                               
pointed  out, is  the  guided, sport,  charter  harvest, not  the                                                               
commercial  catch  nor  the  non-guided sport  catch.    He  then                                                               
provided a  brief history of  the last  20 years of  the harvest.                                                               
The highlights included:  1996/97  the Southeast and Southcentral                                                               
catch became a concern; 2008  NPFMC passed the catch sharing plan                                                               
allowing a  percentage of  the exploitable yield  to be  taken by                                                               
guided  charter anglers  and grouping  them  with the  individual                                                               
fishing quota (IFQ) [commercial]  harvesters; 2008 halibut stocks                                                               
were identified  to be  on a downward  trend, and  charter guides                                                               
self-determined  their share  to  be  under allocated;  2008-2010                                                               
guided  catch  limits  underwent  a  series  of  adjustments  and                                                               
Southeast limits  changed from  the previous  two halibut  of any                                                               
size to only one less than  37 inches long; Southeast guides join                                                               
together to formulate  a workable plan and propose  a joint owned                                                               
11:03:22 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES surmised  that IFQs  would  be included  in a  pool                                                               
versus an  individual's name,  and asked  about the  mechanics of                                                               
the plan.                                                                                                                       
MR. OHAUS  responded that the  IFQ represents the pounds  of fish                                                               
allocated  for harvest.   The  IFQ would  be in  the name  of the                                                               
recreational quota entity (RQE).                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES questioned  the ability  to roll  individual quotas                                                               
into a pool.                                                                                                                    
MR.  OHAUS stated  that  the mechanism  already  exists in  other                                                               
programs, and the proposal represents an expansion.                                                                             
11:05:15 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  queried whether  the pool would  be managed                                                               
MR. OHAUS responded that every  IFQ relates to a specific fishing                                                               
region.  The  intention is to create one board  that would govern                                                               
two  halibut  quota  pools;  one for  Southcentral  and  one  for                                                               
11:06:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  questioned whether the  plan establishes a  cap for                                                               
the  number of  pounds that  could be  purchased by  the proposed                                                               
MR. OHAUS answered yes, and deferred for further details.                                                                       
11:07:42 AM                                                                                                                   
RICHARD  YAMADA,  President,  Alaska Charter  Association  (ACA),                                                               
underscored  that fish  allocation  conflicts  exist between  the                                                               
commercial  and  charter fleet  sectors.    The statewide  Alaska                                                               
Charter  Association  and  Southeast Alaska  Guides  Organization                                                               
(SEAGO)  united  efforts  to  write a  joint  grant  through  the                                                               
National  Fish  and  Wildlife  Foundation   (NFWF)  to  create  a                                                               
mechanism  that allows  inter-sector transfer  on a  market based                                                               
approach.  He directed attention  to the committee packet and the                                                               
15 page  Executive Summary  reprint of  the 132  page whitepaper,                                                               
titled, "Integrating  a recreational  fishery into a  catch share                                                               
program:   Case study of  Alaska's guided halibut  sport fishery,                                                               
CATCH, Catch  Accountability Through Compensated  Halibut," dated                                                               
January 2014,  with author credits  to Richard Yamada  and Sherry                                                               
Flumerfelt.   The paper  provides the results  from two  years of                                                               
research, he said, which he  personally conducted.  The mechanism                                                               
proposed, a  Recreational Quota Entity (RQE),  would be developed                                                               
as a state  owned, non-profit organization, composed  of a board,                                                               
boat charter  operators and  other seats to  be designated.   The                                                               
RQE  would purchase  IFQ's from  any willing  sellers, at  market                                                               
prices,  and  hold   the  quota  for  the  good   of  all  guided                                                               
recreational  anglers.   The expectation  is that  the RQE  would                                                               
receive an  annual allocation  by which the  NPFMC would  set bag                                                               
limits,  in addition  to  the regulatory  allocation.   Based  on                                                               
these combined  allocations, he said, the  charter fishermen will                                                               
be relieved of the severe restrictions currently in place.                                                                      
11:10:13 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ asked how new  participants would be able to                                                               
benefit from the pool once it's ongoing.                                                                                        
MR.  YAMADA pointed  out that  the  pool would  be restricted  to                                                               
guided charter  anglers, and said  the IFQ is based  on abundance                                                               
of stock,  which will be  distributed among the active  guides as                                                               
they  access   the  quota  held   in  trust   without  individual                                                               
11:12:13 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  clarified   that  charter  guides                                                               
currently  operate  under a  limited  entry  permit, and  through                                                               
acquisition of  a permit  a new  guide would  gain access  to the                                                               
MR. YAMADA concurred.                                                                                                           
11:12:49 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  asked what  would  be  the origin  of  the                                                               
resources to purchase the IFQs for establishing the RQE.                                                                        
MR.  YAMADA  responded  that  a $10.00  halibut  stamp  is  being                                                               
proposed, which  over time  would provide  the funds  to purchase                                                               
the quotas.                                                                                                                     
11:13:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES  asked  whether  parameters  and  quota  management                                                               
guidelines exist  to ensure that anglers  aren't exceeding limits                                                               
MR. YAMADA  answered that in-season  management programs  are not                                                               
part of the proposal.   Currently, regulators use estimates based                                                               
on angler numbers and season effort,  along with the size of fish                                                               
landed,  to project  guidelines for  the following  season.   The                                                               
confidence level  is plus  or minus  10 percent,  and significant                                                               
overages, as have occurred in the past, are not anticipated.                                                                    
CHAIR STUTES queried  what would happen if a  serious overage did                                                               
occur; would it be taken off the next years allocation.                                                                         
MR. YAMADA  said a subsequent  year reduction has  been proposed,                                                               
as  well as  a rollover,  but the  council will  make the  policy                                                               
11:16:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  asked about  the  health  of the  halibut                                                               
resource in Southeast regardless of the impact of the quotas.                                                                   
MR.  YAMADA said  the  International  Pacific Halibut  Commission                                                               
(IPHC) has reported  it to be stabilized from the  decline of the                                                               
last few years; perhaps on an uptick.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON pointed out that  the smaller size catch is                                                               
better for  eating; however,  there continues  to be  interest in                                                               
pursuing the largest halibut possible.   He asked whether anglers                                                               
understand that taking  the monster fish could be  harmful to the                                                               
MR.  YAMADA explained  that there  is a  term, fisheries  induced                                                               
evolution,  which is  based on  the assumption  that the  largest                                                               
fish  are fertile  females and  that there  is an  effect on  the                                                               
population  if   they  are  fished   out.    However,   it's  not                                                               
necessarily correct, he opined, nor  are large females as fertile                                                               
as  the  younger, smaller  ones,  measuring  30-32 inches.    The                                                               
larger fish will have contributed to  the gene pool and be on the                                                               
short end of its life span when taken.                                                                                          
11:21:50 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  added that  it's important to  consider the                                                               
significant,   halibut  by-catch   issue,   which   is  a   major                                                               
contributing factor to the health of the fishery.                                                                               
11:22:39 AM                                                                                                                   
ANDY MEZIROW, Member, North  Pacific Management Council, referred                                                               
to the  previously cited white  paper to explain how  the council                                                               
works  with  these type  of  community  generated reports.    The                                                               
council  generated  document  is   being  analyzed  and  will  be                                                               
reviewed prior  to submission to  the committee.   Addressing the                                                               
purpose of need,  he paraphrased from a  written statement, which                                                               
read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                           
     Alaska's  guided  halibut   anglers  have  seen  recent                                                                    
     increases in  regulatory restrictions due  to declining                                                                    
     halibut stocks and guided  recreational allocations.  A                                                                    
     market-based   mechanism   for   the   guided   halibut                                                                    
     recreational  sector  may  be  an  effective  means  to                                                                    
     supplement their  annual allocations.  Allowing  an RQE                                                                    
     (Recreational Quota  Entity) to  hold a  limited amount                                                                    
     of  commercial halibut  [quotas]  on  behalf of  guided                                                                    
     recreational  halibut anglers  under a  "willing seller                                                                    
     and  willing   buyer"  approach  may  result   in  less                                                                    
     restrictive   annual   harvest  measures   for   guided                                                                    
     recreational   anglers   in   times  of   low   halibut                                                                    
     abundance, while complying  with total halibut removals                                                                    
     under  the guided  halibut catch  limits determined  by                                                                    
     the  International  Pacific  Halibut Commission.    The                                                                    
     guided  recreational   halibut  allocation   under  the                                                                    
     Halibut Catch  Sharing Plan would be  combined with the                                                                    
     halibut quota  share held by  the RQE to  determine the                                                                    
     annually  adjusted  total  guided  halibut  allocation.                                                                    
     The  total  allocation  would  be  the  basis  for  the                                                                    
     determination  of appropriate  management measures  for                                                                    
     the guided halibut sector each  year.  The intent is to                                                                    
     consider  such  a  mechanism  without  undermining  the                                                                    
     goals  of  the  halibut   IFQ  Program  or  significant                                                                    
     adverse impacts to other halibut sectors.                                                                                  
11:30:31 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  asked about the internal  vetting and peer                                                               
review process to which the document was subjected.                                                                             
MR. MEZIROW explained:                                                                                                          
     There is  one agency analyst  that is assigned  to this                                                                    
     project.   The agency analyst builds  the document, and                                                                    
     then  it's reviewed  by the  person that's  responsible                                                                    
     for  all of  the halibut  issues that  come before  the                                                                    
     council,  ... then  once again  reviewed after  that by                                                                    
     his  supervisor, which  is the  chairman  of the  North                                                                    
     Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC).                                                                                
11:31:25 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS confirmed  that  the white  paper,                                                               
being proposed is contingent  on council action/deliberation over                                                               
the next year.                                                                                                                  
11:32:14 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. MEZIROW described the reporting  process that is proposed and                                                               
conjectured  on  how the  council  might  intervene depending  on                                                               
market prices.  He presented a  number of scenarios to provide an                                                               
illustration for fluctuating prices and council control options.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  whether  the  council  has                                                               
reviewed the community generated document CATCH.                                                                                
MR. MEZIROW  answered yes,  and said  it is  informative, however                                                               
dated to  2014.   The council  is taking the  core ideals  of the                                                               
document to incorporate into its own report.                                                                                    
11:35:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked to hear  further about the  health of                                                               
the resource.                                                                                                                   
MR.  MEZIROW  described the  steady  recovery  of the  stocks  in                                                               
Southeast, and said the Western stocks are more tenuous.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked what is attributed  to the population                                                               
declines in the halibut fishery.                                                                                                
MR.  MEZIROW   offered  that  there   have  been  a   variety  of                                                               
circumstances.   The  harvest rates  were set  artificially high,                                                               
through  the directed  fishery, for  a period  of time  ten years                                                               
ago.   The  calculations  for  the model  in  use,  at the  time,                                                               
resulted in generous catch privileges  being given to the private                                                               
sector.   A major  area of  concern has been  the Gulf  of Alaska                                                               
trawl  fleet  by-catch,  where observer  coverage  is  important.                                                               
Observers are currently  aboard 25 percent of the  fleet, up from                                                               
13 percent,  and the goal  is to  have 100 percent  coverage with                                                               
the  expectation  to  see  a  significant  lowering  of  by-catch                                                               
11:38:35 AM                                                                                                                   
RYAN  MAKINSTER,  Executive  Director,  Southeast  Alaska  Guides                                                               
Organization (SEAGO), said that  the whitepaper will be reviewed,                                                               
and sideboards imposed by the council,  and then it can come back                                                               
to  the  legislature  for  action.    He  predicted  a  need  for                                                               
statutory review  and fiscal scrutiny.   As previously mentioned,                                                               
a halibut  stamp could  be implemented  for purchasing  IFQs, and                                                               
management costs to ADF&G would need to be considered.                                                                          
11:40:46 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES   thanked  the   participants  and   announced  the                                                               
committee's next meeting.                                                                                                       
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Fisheries meeting  was adjourned  at 11:40                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
FINAL CATCH Report Executive Summary.pdf HFSH 1/28/2016 10:00:00 AM
SEAGO Presentation in Regional Quota Entities - Exec. Summary
FINAL CATCH Report January 14 2014sm.pdf HFSH 1/28/2016 10:00:00 AM
SEAGO Presentation in Regional Quota Entities - Full Report