Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

01/26/2017 10:00 AM FISHERIES

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Audio Topic
10:00:29 AM Start
10:00:43 AM Presentation: Alaska Department of Fish and Game on State V. Federal Fisheries
11:58:53 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: State v. Federal Waters Fisheries TELECONFERENCED
by Dept. of Fish & Game
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                        January 26, 2017                                                                                        
                           10:00 a.m.                                                                                           
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Zach Fansler                                                                                                     
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Representative David Eastman                                                                                                    
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION:  ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME ON STATE V.                                                                   
FEDERAL FISHERIES                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SAM COTTEN, Commissioner                                                                                                        
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Co-presented the department's overview on                                                                
state versus federal fisheries.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
FORREST BOWERS, Deputy Director                                                                                                 
Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Co-presented  the department's  overview on                                                             
state versus federal fisheries.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
GLENN MERRILL, Assistant Regional Administrator                                                                                 
Sustainable Fisheries                                                                                                           
Victoria, British Columbia (BC)                                                                                                 
Canada                                                                                                                          
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Offered  comments   and  responded   to                                                             
questions, during  the Alaska Department  of Fish &  Game (ADF&G)                                                               
presentation on state versus federal fisheries.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:00:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries  meeting  to  order  at  10:00  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Stutes, Neuman,  Eastman, and Chenault  were present at  the call                                                               
to  order.   Representatives  Tarr,  Fansler, and  Kreiss-Tomkins                                                               
arrived  as  the meeting  was  in  progress.   Also  present  was                                                               
Representative Ortiz.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:00:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION:   ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF  FISH AND GAME ON  STATE v.                                                               
FEDERAL FISHERIES                                                                                                               
 PRESENTATION:  ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME ON STATE v.                                                              
                       FEDERAL FISHERIES                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES announced that the only order of business would be                                                                 
a presentation by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                  
on state versus federal fisheries.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:01:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SAM  COTTEN,  Commissioner,  Alaska  Department of  Fish  &  Game                                                               
(ADF&G), highlighted  the plethora of  data that is  collected on                                                               
fisheries, either  via federal, state,  or private means.   Thus,                                                               
available to  the committee is  information regarding  any aspect                                                               
that may be  of interest, such as the number  of vessels fishing,                                                               
the  catch statistics,  or  other  details.   As  one  of the  13                                                               
members of the North Pacific  Fishery Management Council (NPFMC),                                                               
he said  11 are voting members,  and the other seats  include:  6                                                               
for Alaska, 1 for Washington, 1  for Oregon, 1 federal agent, and                                                               
3 public members from the State of Washington.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:04:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
FORREST   BOWERS,  Deputy   Director,   Division  of   Commercial                                                               
Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G), referred to                                                               
the  committee  packet  and  the  department's  document  titled,                                                               
"Alaska's  Groundfish and  BSAI Crab  Fisheries, House  Fisheries                                                               
Special Committee,  January 26,  2017," [Bering Sea  and Aleutian                                                               
Islands  (BSAI)] to  describe  the three,  general  types of  the                                                               
groundfish fisheries,  which are:   1) federal - occur  in waters                                                               
from  3-200  nautical  miles  (nmi) off  shore,  managed  by  the                                                               
National  Marine  Fisheries   Service  (NMFS)  under  regulations                                                               
promulgated by  the NPFMC,   and observe harvest totals  that are                                                               
deducted  from an  established total  allowable  catch (TAC);  2)                                                               
parallel - occur in state waters  from 0-3 nmi concurrent with an                                                               
adjacent federal  fishery, as allowed by  annual emergency orders                                                               
issued by  the department, and  conducted in a  uniform, seamless                                                               
manner  with the  federal fishery;  3) state-waters  or guideline                                                               
harvest limits (GHLs) - occur in  state waters 0-3 nmi, guided by                                                               
the  State  Board  of Fisheries  (board)  process,  with  harvest                                                               
totals   accruing  against   state   managed  guideline   levels.                                                               
Directing attention  to the  handout, page 2,  he used  the lined                                                               
and  color coded  map of  Alaska to  explain the  various coastal                                                               
fisheries  delineated  from Prince  William  Sound  (PWS) to  the                                                               
Bering  Sea.    He  explained   that  the  colored  areas  depict                                                               
fisheries under federal management  and the black lines designate                                                               
the state  management boundaries; with  overlap.  He  pointed out                                                               
that  perfect  overlap  does  not exist,  and  within  one  state                                                               
boundary two federal management areas may be delineated.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:07:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  explained the sophisticated stock  assessment process                                                               
as follows:   NMFS groundfish  survey information,  fishery data,                                                               
and field research  are gathered and stock  assessment models are                                                               
applied.        The    catch   information    outcomes    undergo                                                               
technical/scientific review,  as well as public  review/input, to                                                               
arrive at the initial acceptable  biological catch (ABC) figures.                                                               
The initial ABCs are then  recommended to, and considered by, the                                                               
NPFMC.   The council  then adopts the  final ABCs,  for fisheries                                                               
apportionment  in  the  state  water GHLs  and  the  federal  and                                                               
parallel  TACs.    Mr.  Bowers walked  the  committee  through  a                                                               
typical  fishery for  Pacific cod,  as conducted  in the  Central                                                               
Gulf of  Alaska (CGOA), to explain  and how the ABCs,  TAC's, and                                                               
GHLs are applied.   The ABC for the CGOA is  split 75 percent for                                                               
the federal/parallel fishery and represents  the TAC, of which 25                                                               
percent is allocated for  the state-waters fisheries representing                                                               
the GHL.   The TAC is  apportioned 60 percent to  season "A," the                                                               
winter fishery, and  40 percent to season "B,"  the fall fishing.                                                               
The seasonal  apportionments are further allocated  to seven gear                                                               
sectors.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:11:30 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTON  interjected  to highlight  the  seven  gear                                                               
sectors, which are:  hook  and line (HAL) catcher processor (CP);                                                               
HAL catcher  vessel (CV) less than  50 feet; HAL CV  greater than                                                               
50 feet; pot CV and CP; trawl CV; trawl CP; and jig.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  explained that the 25  percent allotment representing                                                               
the GHL  is apportioned  by the  department into  percentages for                                                               
three management  areas:  Cook  Inlet 3.75, Kodiak  Island 12.50,                                                               
and Chignik  8.75.  The  gear sectors  for these three  areas are                                                               
pot and jig.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:12:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES asked for the differences between a CV and a CP.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  responded that a CV  doesn't have processing                                                               
capability  and typically  delivers its  catch to  a shore  based                                                               
processing plant.  In the Bering  Sea a CV may make deliveries to                                                               
processing vessels  positioned for  that purpose.   A  CP handles                                                               
the processing  on board, usually  freezing the product  prior to                                                               
delivery  within  Alaska  where  associated taxes  and  fees  are                                                               
collected.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:13:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS explained  the three cod fisheries  beginning with the                                                               
federal  Pacific cod  fishery  which takes  place  in the  waters                                                               
extending from 3-200  nmi off shore throughout  the CGOA, Western                                                               
Gulf of  Alaska (WGOA), and BSAI  areas.  The harvest  is limited                                                               
to the  TAC based on  a fixed percentage  of the Pacific  cod ABC                                                               
allotment.   The gear sectors  allowed are trawl,  longline, pot,                                                               
and jig for  both CV and CP operators.   The seasons open January                                                               
1 and September  1 for seasons A and B,  respectively.  There are                                                               
no gear  limits, however vessels are  limited to a length  of not                                                               
more than 125 feet  in the gulf.  It is  a limited access fishery                                                               
requiring a federal fisheries permit  (FFP) or license limitation                                                               
program  (LLP)   license,  Steller  sea  lion   (SSL)  protection                                                               
measures  must  be  observed  in  no  fishing  zones  via  vessel                                                               
monitoring  systems,   and  the  fleet  complies   with  on-board                                                               
observer requirements.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:15:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN interjected  that  [FFP's]  and LLP's  might                                                               
best be described  as the federal equivalent  of Alaska's limited                                                               
entry system.   A certain number of permits  are available, which                                                               
can be  bought and  sold, but  no new  permits are  being issued.                                                               
The  number of  permits in  the pool  has been  reduced over  the                                                               
years through attrition.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:15:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER  asked whether the season  continues until                                                               
the quota has been caught.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  said  that  meeting  the  quota  ends  each                                                               
season.  The  TAC is applied to each type  of fishery, thus, once                                                               
the allocation for a specific  gear sector has been attained that                                                               
represents  the end  of a  season as  well.   He reaffirmed  that                                                               
seasons open on a date certain but end based on a catch quota.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:16:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CHENAULT   inquired   about   the   number   and                                                               
availability of LLP's.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  responded  that there  are  different  LLPs                                                               
depending  on  gear  type  and  he  offered  to  provide  further                                                               
information.  It  is not anticipated that  the federal government                                                               
will issue more  permits.  He elaborated on the  concern for lack                                                               
of permits in some villages.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT clarified  that the  LLPs are  issued by                                                               
the NPFMC.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:19:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS   described  the  specific  characteristics   of  the                                                               
parallel Pacific  cod fishery as  it interfaces with  the federal                                                               
fishery.   It occurs in state  waters from 0-3 nmi  in CGOA, WGOA                                                               
and  BSAI; it's  opened concurrent  to the  federal fishery  by a                                                               
state issued  emergency order  (EO); the TAC  is shared  with the                                                               
federal fishery;  gear sectors include  trawl, longline,  pot and                                                               
jig, with  some bottom  trawl restrictions;  the seasons  are the                                                               
same  with  season  A  beginning  on  January  1,  and  season  B                                                               
beginning  on  September  1;  no gear  limits  are  imposed,  but                                                               
vessels may not exceed 125 feet;  it is considered an open access                                                               
fisheries, and does  [not] require an FFP or  LLP; SSL protection                                                               
measures are in place; and observer requirements are imposed.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:21:08 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN pointed  out that the state  waters, 0-3 nmi,                                                               
are open for the federal parallel  season and the board can adopt                                                               
rules for these waters.  Using  WGOA as an example, he said, "For                                                               
Pacific cod,  even during a  federal fishery,  you have to  be 58                                                               
feet or  under.  That's  a State  Fish Board regulation  and they                                                               
have the power to do the regs out to three miles."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES  asked,  "Are  there   fisheries  that  are  shared                                                               
jointly, regulatory, by the state and the [federal government]?"                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  responded  that  the  parallel  fishery  is                                                               
handled jointly  and the  federal rules  are adopted  pending any                                                               
specific board rulings.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:22:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS described  the state-waters  Pacific  cod fishery  as                                                               
similar to the parallel fishery:  occurs in state waters from 0-                                                                
3  nmi; the  harvest  limits are  based on  a  percentage of  the                                                               
federal   Pacific  cod   ABCs;   the  seasons   open  after   the                                                               
federal/parallel  fisheries  are closed;  pot  and  jig gear  are                                                               
allowed; the  gear is  limited to  60 pots or  5 jig  machines; a                                                               
vessel  may not  exceed  58  feet in  length  for Chignik,  South                                                               
Peninsula, or  Dutch Harbor;  it is an  open access  fishery with                                                               
registration  exclusivity; SSL  rookeries are  protected; and  no                                                               
observer requirements are imposed.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:23:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  addressed the  SSL protection  measures to                                                               
ask whether  there has been  federal relaxation on  the oversight                                                               
and how the protections affect the fisheries.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN replied  that  the  protection measures  are                                                               
primarily associated with the federal  fisheries more than state.                                                               
Transects are drawn around the  rookeries and compliance requires                                                               
a split fishery  schedule; however, oversight in  state waters is                                                               
held by ADF&G.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN inquired  whether the  U.S. Marine  Mammal                                                               
Protection  Act  (MMPA),  1972,   has  changed  state  management                                                               
practices.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN answered  that the act is a  regular topic at                                                               
the council proceedings.  The sea  lions are listed on the D list                                                               
of the Endangered  Species Act (ESA), 1973.   Relaxation measures                                                               
are being considered by the council.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN   opined   that  more   protection   than                                                               
management appears to occur.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN explained that  the state observes the closed                                                               
areas  set by  the  federal government  but  compliance does  not                                                               
affect the state fishery.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  asked whether Alaskan fishermen  have been                                                               
subject  to fisheries  being  reduced or  closed  due to  federal                                                               
regulations.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN said  it's a  difficult subject  to measure.                                                               
Alaskan fishermen may  be restricted from areas  where they would                                                               
like to fish, or reach allowable  limits and be required to cease                                                               
operations; actions that cause impositions on some fishermen.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:28:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked for  the net  impact on  the fishery,                                                               
given  the management  value  and the  economic  benefits to  the                                                               
fishing fleet.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  said  the economic  figures  fluctuate  for                                                               
various reasons,  but the fish  stocks are considered  healthy in                                                               
both  the cod  and pollock  fisheries, which  is attributable  to                                                               
good  management practices.   To  a follow-up  question, he  said                                                               
there are 40  additional species of lesser  interest that provide                                                               
economic  benefits.   The  fish stocks  have  proven healthy  but                                                               
market volatility causes fluctuation in the economic figures.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:32:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked what benchmarks are  used to establish                                                               
the stocks  as healthy, and  whether fluctuations in  catch level                                                               
statistics indicate  that climate change  is having an  impact on                                                               
these  fisheries;  comparing   today's  numbers  with  historical                                                               
statistics and trends.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN answered  that, although  climate change  is                                                               
often  cited as  a factor  among significant  changes, scientific                                                               
oversight  indicates  that  the  stocks are  in  good  condition.                                                               
Climate change causes  more of a shift in  the migration pattern,                                                               
if anything, he  opined.  He said the allowable  2 million metric                                                               
tons in the  Bering Sea could be significantly  higher, given the                                                               
availability of stocks.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:34:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN requested  the commissioner  to elaborate                                                               
on bycatch.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said the typical bycatch  species of concern                                                               
are Chinook salmon and halibut.   The mid-water pollock fisheries                                                               
effect the  Chinook salmon  and the halibut  are effected  by the                                                               
bottom trawl  gear activity.   He stressed  that fisherman  go to                                                               
great pains  to avoid bycatch.   Strict  limits exist on  both of                                                               
these bycatch species, and once  the limit is reached the fishery                                                               
is closed, he stressed.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  asked for  a  description  of the  great                                                               
pains that fishermen take to avoid bycatch.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN explained that the  Bering Sea fleet uses co-                                                               
operative  and internal  watch measures  to minimize  bycatch and                                                               
keep a fishery open  for as long as possible.   There is a strong                                                               
financial  incentive to  avoid bycatch  and be  able to  continue                                                               
fishing.   He  stressed that  the  fleet has  been successful  in                                                               
their effort to stay under the limit.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:37:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES asked  for a  brief explanation  of the  prohibited                                                               
species bycatch regulations.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN explained that the  GOA had no bycatch limits                                                               
until the department established  limits for the pollock fishery.                                                               
The regulatory  action was  spurred by  a lighting  strike event,                                                               
when very large  numbers of Chinook were being taken.   The event                                                               
also occurred in the Bering Sea.   Thus, in the last 15 years the                                                               
limits were developed.   The department doesn't shut  down a gulf                                                               
fisherman  for  the entire  year,  but  for  the remainder  of  a                                                               
specific season  once exceeded. The  fleet participants  are very                                                               
cognizant of the limits and know the penalties and consequences.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:39:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ inquired  about the  accountability of  the                                                               
bycatch  activity and  the confidence  level that  the department                                                               
holds.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN explained  that  some  fisheries maintain  a                                                               
constant watch  with two observers  on board.  When  carrying two                                                               
observers, a vessel  is considered to have  200 percent coverage.                                                               
The 100  percent coverage level  means one observer is  on board,                                                               
with downtime  expected.   Other fisheries  are observed  at much                                                               
lower levels,  for example  in the  GOA where  18 percent  of the                                                               
trawl  vessels carry  observers, at  any given  time, based  on a                                                               
random  draw.   The  program  has been  reorganized  from how  it                                                               
previously  operated and  due to  financial  constraints has  had                                                               
some cutbacks.   The data  gathered is extrapolated  to determine                                                               
the  fleet   bycatch;  however,   the  National   Marine  Service                                                               
statisticians caution that if the  observation levels are lowered                                                               
further, confidence levels cannot be maintained.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked if financial  constraints are  due to                                                               
ADF&G  budget  cuts and  the  amount  of funding  the  department                                                               
provides to support the observer program.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN said  department funds  are not  required as                                                               
it's payed  for by the federal  tax fishermen pay on  their gross                                                               
earnings; 1.25 percent.   The law allows this to  be increased to                                                               
2.0 percent; an increase that is under consideration.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:42:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN  asked   whether   the  current   bycatch                                                               
sideboards,  as   established  for  the  state,   are  considered                                                               
adequate by the department.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN responded  that observer  coverage could  be                                                               
better; however,  the bycatch limits  appear to  be satisfactory.                                                               
He  reported  that  the  GOA Chinook  salmon  bycatch  have  been                                                               
genetically traced, and 90 percent  of the bycatch originate from                                                               
Canada,  Southeast  Alaskan   hatcheries,  or  Pacific  Northwest                                                               
sources.   A  similar situation  occurs in  the Bering  Sea where                                                               
bycatch   chum  salmon   have   been   identified  primarily   as                                                               
originating from an Asian source.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked about bycatch confidence levels.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said he  would like  to see  better observer                                                               
coverage.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:45:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   echoed  Representative  Neuman's                                                               
inquiry,  specific to  halibut  bycatch  in the  gulf.   He  also                                                               
expressed interest in  what changes the department  would like to                                                               
see in the  observer program.  Further, he asked  how the halibut                                                               
limits  for the  gulf compare  with what  is held  for Management                                                               
Area 2C, Southeast Alaska (SE).                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  rated the  department's confidence  level as                                                               
low in  the statistics provided  for the gulf halibut  fleet, and                                                               
he would  like to see  a higher percentage of  observer coverage.                                                               
The current limits seem adequate,  although the halibut fishermen                                                               
complain about  the trawl fleet  bycatch levels.  To  a follow-up                                                               
question  regarding   the  allowable  bycatch   the  commissioner                                                               
explained  that  those who  represent  Alaska's  interest on  the                                                               
council  are  consistently  applying   pressure  to  improve  the                                                               
situation.    Different  ways for  determining  what  the  limits                                                               
should be are being explored, he assured.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:49:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  asked  what percentage  of  the  allowable                                                               
halibut allotment for Alaska is taken up as bycatch.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN answered  that the  council is  comprised of                                                               
three  Americans  and three  Canadians,  who  must agree  on  the                                                               
decision.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ pressed for a percentage estimate.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS  responded that,  in  ballpark  numbers, the  halibut                                                               
quota may be 30 million pounds  statewide, and 4 million would be                                                               
bycatch;  roughly 15  percent.   He offered  to provide  further,                                                               
more accurate, information.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:51:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR asked  to know  the law  governing the  1.25                                                               
percent federal tax  that provides the observers,  and what state                                                               
level policies exist for addressing the bycatch issue.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   COTTEN    said   the    Magnuson-Stevens   Fishery                                                               
Conservation and  Management Act (MSA), 1976,  guides the council                                                               
and also establishes the 200  mile limit.  Regional councils were                                                               
formed under the act, which included the NPFMC.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:53:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS continued  with the  presentation,  stating that  the                                                               
newest  Pacific cod  effort  is the  Dutch  Harbor, sub  district                                                               
fishery.   It occurs on  the north  side of the  Eastern Aleutian                                                               
Islands, near  Unalaska.   In addition there  is a  long standing                                                               
fishery  on  the  South  Alaska Peninsula,  near  King  Cove  and                                                               
Sandpoint.  He outlined these  two fisheries.  Characteristics of                                                               
the Dutch  Harbor sub  district established in  2013, show:   the                                                               
GHL  set at  6.4  percent  of the  Bering  Sea  Pacific cod  ABC,                                                               
equating  to  36 million  pounds  in  2016 and  representing  the                                                               
largest  state waters  Pacific  cod fishery;  a  length limit  on                                                               
vessels  of 58  feet;  restricted  to pot  gear;  and 24  vessels                                                               
participated in  2016.   The South  Alaska Peninsula  fishery, in                                                               
its initial year, shows: a GHL  of 30 percent of the WGOA Pacific                                                               
cod ABC, representing  27 million pounds in 2016; a  GHL split 85                                                               
percent for  pot gear and  15 percent  for jig gear;  vessel size                                                               
limited to 58 feet, and 55 vessels participated in 2016.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:55:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  noted that  the department appears  to have  an in-                                                               
depth   understanding   of    which   fisheries   support   local                                                               
communities, and to what degree.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said vessels  participate from a  variety of                                                               
home  port  locales, but  fishermen  have  options for  where  to                                                               
deliver their catch.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES surmised  the department's  grasp,  then, would  be                                                               
knowing the specific species that support each region.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS interjected  that records  exist, and  he offered  to                                                               
provide further information.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   COTTEN  added   that  the   fishermen  enjoy   the                                                               
opportunity to seek  better ex-vessel prices where  ever they may                                                               
be available.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:57:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS provided  pie  charts to  compare  state and  federal                                                               
percentages of the  walleye pollock and Pacific cod  as caught in                                                               
the central and  western areas of the Gulf of  Alaska, based on a                                                               
ten year  average; 2007-2016.   He pointed out that  the majority                                                               
of the pollock catch is taken  in federal waters, over 80 percent                                                               
in the central area and 55 percent  in the west.  The Pacific cod                                                               
fishery is represented by a federal  catch in the central area of                                                               
61 percent and in the west  at 47 percent.  Mr. Bowers identified                                                               
the other state managed groundfish  fisheries that are pursued in                                                               
state waters, which include:   rockfish and lingcod, taken in the                                                               
gulf and  Aleutian Islands; walleye pollock  fisheries that occur                                                               
in PWS; and  sablefish that are caught in  Southeast Alaska, PWS,                                                               
Cook  Inlet, and  the  Aleutian  Islands.   He  said a  sablefish                                                               
individual  fishery  quota  (IFQ)  is  not  recognized  in  state                                                               
waters,  thus  the board  established  these  fisheries in  areas                                                               
where  sablefish harvests  have traditionally  occurred from  0-3                                                               
nmi from shore.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:00:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS  turned  to the  handout  page  titled,  "Big-Picture                                                               
Comparison  of Bering  Sea-Aleutian  Islands and  Gulf of  Alaska                                                               
Federal Groundfish Fisheries," to  characterize the fisheries and                                                               
describe management  oversight.   He said in  the BSAI  areas the                                                               
catch is  limited by a  2.0 million  metric ton (mmt)  cap, which                                                               
resulted  in 2017  as  follows:   walleye  pollock  - 1.345  mmt,                                                               
Pacific cod - 223,704 mmt, and  yellowfin sole - 154,000 mmt.  He                                                               
reviewed  the  management  structures   for  the  BSAI  and  said                                                               
pollock/flatfish  are   handled  under  a  catch   share  program                                                               
established  under  the  American   Fisheries  Act  (AFA),  1998,                                                               
Amendment 80 program, which is a limited access fishery.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  interjected that  Amendment 80 relates  to a                                                               
particular fleet and the associated  rules.  It's an amendment to                                                               
the BSAI fisheries management plan.   The Amendment 80 fishery is                                                               
also  referred to  as the  head  and gut  fleet, as  that is  the                                                               
processing that occurs onboard the participating vessels.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:02:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  asked if  the 2.0  mmt cap  is based  on a                                                               
total assumed bio-mass number.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   COTTEN  responded   that  the   2.0  mmt   cap  is                                                               
established in  statute; however, the existing  science indicates                                                               
that 3.0  mmt could be taken.   The council respects  the cap and                                                               
decides allotments for each species.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS  further  clarified  that  the  harvest  numbers  are                                                               
derived from a science based, stock assessment process.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said it would  be good to know what percent                                                               
of the biomass  is being allocated and perhaps  the committee may                                                               
want  to  entertain  a  resolution to  the  council  or  Alaska's                                                               
congressional delegation                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS ascertained that the  question revolves around how the                                                               
harvest  amounts relate  to  the total  biomass  for the  various                                                               
species, and he offered to provide further information.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  added that all species  are considered under                                                               
the 2.0 mmt cap.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:06:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  asked  whether  the  cap  is  based  on  a                                                               
scientific determination.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  responded, "Absolutely  not."   The decision                                                               
is contained in the Consolidated  Appropriations Act, 2004, which                                                               
put into federal statute the 2.0 mmt limit.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:07:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS  continued  with  the BSAI  fishery  to  explain  the                                                               
community  development  quota  (CDQ), stating  that  the  program                                                               
began  in  the  1990's  and  allocates the  TAC  in  a  range  of                                                               
percentages,  from  7.5-10.7  mmt  for  each  of  the  groundfish                                                               
fisheries,  between  six  groups located  throughout  65  coastal                                                               
communities in  Western Alaska.   He said the CDQs  have provided                                                               
positive economic input  into the communities.  In  the gulf, the                                                               
groundfish  is  limited under  an  optimum  yield (OY)  range  of                                                               
harvest  capped  at  800,000  metric  tons  (mt).    The  cap  is                                                               
similarly divided into harvest amounts  for specific species.  In                                                               
2017  the  results  were:    pollock  -  208,595  mt;  arrowtooth                                                               
flounder -  103,300 mt;  and Pacific  cod 64,442  mt.   The total                                                               
allowable  harvest of  535,863 mt,  illustrates that  the optimum                                                               
yield cap does not constrain the fishery.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN added  that  the  list indicates  management                                                               
caps for each species; however, in  the case of a species such as                                                               
the arrowtooth flounder the allowable  catch could be much higher                                                               
and is  only limited by  the possibility of  a high bycatch.   In                                                               
the case  of the arrowtooth  flounder fishery, a low  valued, the                                                               
bycatch concern is halibut.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:09:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   asked  whether  the   political  decisions                                                               
setting the  cap limits,  are based  on the  economic value  of a                                                               
given species.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN said  bycatch are not allowed to  be sold and                                                               
are  either   tossed  overboard  or  donated   to  specific  food                                                               
distribution programs.  He acknowledged  the value differences of                                                               
species  such  as arrowtooth  flounder,  paying  $0.07 per  pound                                                               
versus a halibut that may bring in $7.00 per pound.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  restated to ask  how the value of  a species                                                               
influences the organization of management practices.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTON, using the halibut  allocation as an example,                                                               
said  the  distribution  of  the catch  is  divided  amongst  the                                                               
bycatch,  subsistence  take, and  unguided  sport  harvest.   The                                                               
remainder  of   the  allocation  is  then   divided  between  the                                                               
commercial  fleet  and the  guided  sport  anglers.   Every  year                                                               
decisions are  made on ways  and means  to hold the  fisheries to                                                               
the allocations.   The guided halibut fishery  forms a committee,                                                               
of  guides,  who make  determinations  on  what restrictions  are                                                               
acceptable.   A  new  program, just  introduced,  will allow  the                                                               
guided  sport  industry to  purchase  quota  from the  commercial                                                               
side.   Although  controversial at  this point,  it represents  a                                                               
willing seller and willing buyer situation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:14:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS reviewed  the key  points of  the federal  groundfish                                                               
fishery,  which  include:    management of  over  40  species  or                                                               
species  complexes;  many species  are  managed  under a  limited                                                               
access  or quota  share  program; the  state  holds authority  to                                                               
manage  some species  in  the exclusive  economic  zone (EEZ);  a                                                               
greater proportion  of the federal  catch is processed at  sea by                                                               
floating  or  catcher  processors   than  in  the  state  managed                                                               
fisheries; the  fishery observer coverage requirements  vary from                                                               
what applies to  fisheries in state waters;  compliance for total                                                               
catch  accounting  is  imposed;  centralized  rather  than  area-                                                               
specific  management  occurs,  unlike state  management  that  is                                                               
accomplished by  employees located near the  fishing grounds; and                                                               
prohibited species  management is  a federal purview  for species                                                               
such as halibut, salmon, and crab.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:15:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  summarized the  groundfish fishery  management points                                                               
stating:    two  management  jurisdictions apply  -  federal  and                                                               
state; there  are three  types of  fisheries -  federal, parallel                                                               
and  state-waters,  and  indications  are  that  each  groundfish                                                               
fishery is unique and highly dynamic.   He provided a color coded                                                               
bar graph  to compare  the ex-vessel  value of  Alaska's combined                                                               
commercial  fisheries from  1975-2015.   He pointed  out that  by                                                               
1990 the fleet  was fully Americanized and  the groundfish values                                                               
began  to  significantly  grow.   Today  the  groundfish  fishery                                                               
represents nearly half of the  ex-vessel value of all of Alaska's                                                               
fisheries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:18:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  referred to the  committee handout, page  18, titled,                                                               
"Groundfish Economic Highlights," to  summarize the bullet points                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Groundfish fisheries  represent 80 percent  of Alaska's                                                                    
     total commercial fishery harvest  volume, 52 percent of                                                                    
     total  ex-vessel value  (2015), and  52 percent  of the                                                                    
     nations' total  seafood harvest volume  (2014); walleye                                                                    
     pollock  landings typically  comprise 40-50  percent of                                                                    
     total  Alaska seafood  harvest  volume  and around  one                                                                    
     third of  total first  wholesale value;  and groundfish                                                                    
     fisheries   provided    approximately   1,100   seafood                                                                    
     harvesting jobs in  2015 and provide a  source of year-                                                                    
     round  work  for   seafood  processors,  especially  in                                                                    
     communities  such as  Kodiak  and  Unalaska where  many                                                                    
     processing workers are Alaska residents.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  continued, summarizing from page  19, titled, "State-                                                               
Waters Key  Points," which read as  follows [original punctuation                                                               
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     State  waters   groundfish  fisheries  account   for  a                                                                    
     relatively small fraction  of total groundfish landings                                                                    
     and  value, less  than $50  million annually;  however,                                                                    
     they  represent  one of  the  few  entry level  fishing                                                                    
     opportunities  in Alaska  and complement  other fishing                                                                    
     opportunities to provide  a balanced economic portfolio                                                                    
     for   individual   fishermen;  and   state   groundfish                                                                    
     management projects  are funded  with $1.6  million UGF                                                                    
     and slightly less than $0.5 million in federal monies.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWER pointed  out that federal funding is  primarily used in                                                               
the   electronic,   catch   accounting   system,   which   is   a                                                               
sophisticated reporting program.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN  added  that   the  $50  million  return  is                                                               
augmented by  the federal support  that the state  benefits from,                                                               
such  as the  stock assessments  conducted  in the  gulf and  the                                                               
Bering  Sea.    The  federal assessments  provide  data  that  is                                                               
critical for state management purposes.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:21:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  moved to the  BASI crab fishery  management structure                                                               
to point out  the overlap that occurs in these  state and federal                                                               
fisheries,  as well.    He said  a  cooperative, federal  fishery                                                               
management  plan  (FMP)  is used  to  establish  a  state/federal                                                               
cooperative  structure, with  many of  the management  activities                                                               
deferred to Alaska  as subject to the  Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)                                                               
national standards.   The  FMP measures fall  under one  of three                                                               
categories, which  are:   Category 1) measures  fixed in  the FMP                                                               
and  require an  FMP amendment  to change,  affected through  the                                                               
council,  such   as  imposing  limited   access  like   the  crab                                                               
rationalization program; Category  2)framework-type measures that                                                               
the state can change following criteria  set out in the FMP, such                                                               
as  harvest limits  established by  the Board  of Fisheries;  and                                                               
category  3)  measures that  are  neither  rigidly specified  nor                                                               
included  in the  FMP allowing  the state  to use  discretion for                                                               
imposing requirements such as observer coverage.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:22:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS said ten crab  stocks are handled under the management                                                               
plan, which are:   red king crab taken in  Norton Sound, Pribilof                                                               
Islands,  Bristol  Bay, and  the  Aleutian  Islands west  of  171                                                               
degrees west longitude;  blue king crab taken  from Saint Matthew                                                               
and Pribilof Islands;  golden king crab, taken  from the Pribilof                                                               
and Aleutian  Islands; tanner crab  harvested in the  Bering Sea;                                                               
and  snow crab  also  harvested from  the Bering  Sea.   The  key                                                               
points of  the BSAI crab  fishery are  that the catch  is managed                                                               
under a  quota share  (QS) program, as  issued to  vessel owners,                                                               
operators and processors, and that  a CDQ program is allocated 10                                                               
percent of  the TAC.   There are  currently less than  80 vessels                                                               
participating,  which is  down from  the 250  which operated  ten                                                               
years  ago.     Still,  the  fishery  supports   about  600  crab                                                               
harvesting  jobs.   The BSAI  fishery currently  generates around                                                               
$250  million  in ex-vessel  revenue.    He  noted that  over  70                                                               
percent  of crab  Commercial  Fisheries  Entry Commission  (CFEC)                                                               
permit  holders are  nonresident,  as shown  in 2015  statistics;                                                               
representing a  slight decrease in Alaska  resident participation                                                               
post-rationalization.   The state receives  over $1  million from                                                               
the  federal government  for crab  management, which  is critical                                                               
for the department to maintain  activities such as monitoring the                                                               
electronics landing program.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:25:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS   presented  a  state  map   indicating  the  halibut                                                               
management  areas that  extend from  the shoreline  to 200  miles                                                               
and, referring to the handout,  page 24, titled, "Pacific Halibut                                                               
Fishery Key  Points," paraphrased  the four bullet  points, which                                                               
read as follows:                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Management  of  the   resource  shared  between  United                                                                    
     States  and   Canada;  International   Pacific  Halibut                                                                    
     Commission  conducts research,  estimates biomass,  and                                                                    
     establishes   catch  limits;   North  Pacific   Fishery                                                                    
     Management   Council  allocates   harvest  and   adopts                                                                    
     management  measures; finally,  the state  monitors and                                                                    
     collects   data  on   sport   fisheries  and   conducts                                                                    
     enforcement activities.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:26:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  asked whether the  raw fish and fish  landing taxes                                                               
are collected on  any fish taken from  Alaskan waters, regardless                                                               
of the catch locale.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  responded that the  raw fish tax,  now known                                                               
as the  fisheries business  tax, only applies  to fish  caught in                                                               
state water.   The fisheries  resource landing tax is  applied to                                                               
catch  that is  trans-shipped in  Alaska waters,  not necessarily                                                               
caught in state waters.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS added that the  fisheries resource landing tax is paid                                                               
by processors  outside of state  waters; on catcher  processor or                                                               
floating  processor vessels.   If  a vessel  is participating  in                                                               
waters  governed  by the  American  Fisheries  Act (AFA)  pollock                                                               
fishery, a landing  tax is paid regardless of where  the catch is                                                               
offloaded.   He pointed out  that there  is a possibility  that a                                                               
processor, operating  in federal  water, other than  AFA pollock,                                                               
could  land their  catch elsewhere,  without ever  entering state                                                               
water, and  avoid paying the  tax.   Although this may  happen on                                                               
occasion there is no evidence that it represents a concern.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN pointed out  that a specific provision exists                                                               
in the  AFA which ensures a  catch delivered to Seattle  would be                                                               
subject to the landing tax.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:29:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GLENN  MERRILL,  Assistant  Regional  Administrator,  Sustainable                                                               
Fisheries,  said the  council operates  under  a legal  framework                                                               
requiring  the observance  of a  number  of national,  management                                                               
standards which  include working  out a balance  for optimization                                                               
of   yield  and   minimization   of  bycatch.     Responding   to                                                               
Representative Chenault, he said there  are about 1,850 LLPs held                                                               
by vessels participating in the  halibut harvest and the hook and                                                               
line  Pacific  cod  fisheries.    Pollock  and  Pacific  cod  are                                                               
currently  at, or  nearly at,  record high  levels of  abundance.                                                               
The Bering Sea biomass is estimated  at 23 mmt, and 11 percent or                                                               
2 mmt are considered available  for harvest.  The council manages                                                               
the  stocks  in  a  precautionary   manner  to  ensure  long-term                                                               
sustainable fisheries.   He noted  that the joint efforts  of the                                                               
NPFMC and  NMFS have resulted in  substantially reducing bycatch;                                                               
levels are  at a  record low  based on recent  reports.   He said                                                               
roughly  17 percent  of all  halibut taken  classify as  bycatch.                                                               
The decline in  bycatch is attributable to a  variety of programs                                                               
and a  cooperative vessel plan  that was jointly developed.   One                                                               
action  is to  have vessels  sort the  catch on  deck and  return                                                               
halibut  to  the  sea quickly,  thus  reducing  mortality  rates.                                                               
Regarding the  observer program, he said  efficiency measures are                                                               
being  explored  and a  newly  adopted  measure, being  put  into                                                               
regulation  this year,  is  to  establish electronic  monitoring,                                                               
targeted  for  the smaller  hook  and  line  fleet in  the  gulf.                                                               
Ninety vessels  are currently participating in  a voluntary pilot                                                               
plan to  test this affordable, efficient,  electronic approach to                                                               
on-board monitoring.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:35:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN asked  about  the percent  of halibut  and                                                               
salmon that  are sorted  on deck and  released, and  the survival                                                               
rate statistics.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MERRILL  said  it's  estimated that  eight  or  nine  large,                                                               
factory,  catcher-processor  vessels  are  participating  in  the                                                               
program.  The estimated mortality  rate, without deck sorting, is                                                               
about  80-90  percent.    Deck  sorting,  within  20-30  minutes,                                                               
results  in a  20-40  percent  mortality rate;  on  average a  50                                                               
percent reduction.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:37:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  directed attention  to the  handout, page                                                               
18, and  the 1,100 seafood  harvesting jobs reported in  2015, to                                                               
ask whether they represent state or federal jobs.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS responded that the  figure represents a combination of                                                               
both   state  and   federal  jobs,   throughout  all   groundfish                                                               
fisheries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:37:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR turned to page  22, of the handout, noted the                                                               
decrease  in Alaska  resident participation  cited in  the fourth                                                               
bullet  point,  and  asked  whether efforts  are  being  made  to                                                               
reclaim crab fishery permits for Alaskan residents.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS  pointed out  that the  70 percent  participation rate                                                               
reported is  in regards to  CFEC crab fishery permits,  which are                                                               
available  for anyone  to  purchase.   A  federal  quota is  also                                                               
required, as held by the vessel  owner, who then hires a captain.                                                               
The  CFEC   permit  statistics  reflect  details   pertaining  to                                                               
captains.  The  council has been making an effort  to ensure that                                                               
the value of the fishery remains  in the hands of the captain and                                                               
crew.    The CDQ  program  is  an  Alaskan program  and  directly                                                               
benefits the residents of the member communities.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN added  that NMFS  annually produces  a stock                                                               
assessment and  fisheries evaluation (SAFE).   One figure  in the                                                               
evaluation that  stands out, he  reported, is that 86  percent of                                                               
the  groundfish harvested  in Alaskan  waters, excluding  salmon,                                                               
herring,  and   crab,  are  taken   by  fishermen   who  identify                                                               
themselves  as "other  than Alaskan  resident."   The fishery  is                                                               
dominated  by  the  pollock fleets,  which  he  characterized  as                                                               
industrial,  corporate  operators.   At  the  council level,  MSA                                                               
mandates a  strict prohibition be observed  in favoring residents                                                               
of one  state over another.   He said  he strives to  ensure that                                                               
Alaskan  residents aren't  put at  a disadvantage,  which is  the                                                               
least that can be done.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:41:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ expressed  concern for  the decline  in the                                                               
state's  general fund  and the  efficiencies that  are needed  to                                                               
offset  the  state  deficit.    He  asked  if  there  is  a  cost                                                               
associated  with annually  assessing the  golden crab  fishery; a                                                               
fishery that doesn't actually take place.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  COTTEN said  that assessments  are not  necessarily                                                               
conducted  every  year, as  in  some  situations assumptions  are                                                               
employed.    Assessments are  expensive,  he  said, and  deferred                                                               
further comment.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS responded  that surveys  are not  being conducted  on                                                               
either the  southeast golden king  crab fishery, or  the Aleutian                                                               
Island  fishery, which  produces about  $30 million  in ex-vessel                                                               
value.   Some  areas  have sporadic  surveys  conducted, such  as                                                               
Kodiak  and   the  Pripilof  Islands,  and   NMFS  provides  data                                                               
incidental to the golden king crab fishery.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said that an  annual survey is  conducted on                                                               
the red  king crab of Southeast  Alaska, but no fishery  has been                                                               
held since 2011.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ questioned the  value of an assessment being                                                               
conducted on a fishery that is  not active, and he asked what the                                                               
assessment costs are to the department.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWERS answered  that the SE, red king  crab assessment costs                                                               
$98,000, despite the  fishery being closed.  He  pointed out that                                                               
without periodic monitoring there would  be no way of determining                                                               
the recovery of a species.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:46:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  referred to the  handout, page 17,  to ask                                                               
about  the  2002-2012  rise  in   the  ex-vessel  value  numbers;                                                               
doubling in ten  years.  Did the  value of the fish  rise, or did                                                               
the catch rates increase.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWERS said  both the  salmon  harvest numbers  and the  ex-                                                               
vessel values increased.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:48:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES asked for an explanation of ex-vessel value.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  explained the two standard  measures of fish                                                               
values:  ex-vessel  is what the fisherman receives  when he lands                                                               
the catch; and  first wholesale is sale of a  finished product by                                                               
the initial processor.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN asked  to  have the  department provide  a                                                               
breakout of the ex-vessel values by region.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:49:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  asked whether the  perspectives on                                                               
observer coverage, expressed  today by ADF&G, are  also shared by                                                               
Canada,  particularly  the  concern regarding  gaps  in  observer                                                               
coverage.  Additionally, he asked  whether Canada also finds that                                                               
it  would be  beneficial to  eradicate the  gaps to  increase the                                                               
accuracy of bycatch data.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MERRILL  explained that the council  conducted a supplemental                                                               
environmental  assessment (SEA)  two  years ago,  to examine  and                                                               
thoroughly analyze  the quality of  the coverage provided  by the                                                               
program.   What  the  council  identified as  a  concern was  the                                                               
possibility of  the loss  of coverage regarding  the use  of gear                                                               
type in specific areas of the gulf.   As shown in the SEA report,                                                               
the current level of observer  coverage requires the data gaps to                                                               
be  filled via  statistical extrapolation.   However,  concern is                                                               
held for  the potential  that unobserved  vessels may  be fishing                                                               
with different  gear and in  alternative areas than  the observed                                                               
vessels.  Through the use  of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data                                                               
the  council  has  been able  to  make  determinations  regarding                                                               
unobserved vessels; however more  observer coverage would provide                                                               
a higher level of confidence.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  noted that the NMFS  office of law                                                               
enforcement   issued  a   warning   late  last   year  based   on                                                               
discrepancies regarding where vessels  reported they were fishing                                                               
versus what the VMS captured.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MERRILL  said  there  are  cases  of  vessels  not  properly                                                               
reporting their catch; specific vessels  in specific areas can be                                                               
problematic as indicated by the NMFS release.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:53:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  asked  for information  regarding  how  the                                                               
Trans-Pacific Partnership  (TPP), 2016,  which the U.S.  is being                                                               
withdrawn  from under  the new  administration, effects  Alaska's                                                               
seafood  market.   She suggested  a conversation  regarding trade                                                               
issues relating to the export of  Alaskan fish be taken up by the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:54:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN returned to  the 1.2 percent fee, collected                                                               
to cover  the observer  program, to  ask how it  is applied:   to                                                               
fish  landed, or  harvested overall.   Additionally,  he recalled                                                               
that  it  could be  adjusted  to  2.0  and  asked when  the  last                                                               
adjustment occurred.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN said the 1.25  percent tax is paid by vessels                                                               
required to carry  observers, and it's assessed  on the ex-vessel                                                               
value of the fish delivered in Alaska.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  questioned whether the fish  that are off-                                                               
loaded in Seattle are also taxed.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said minimal  fish are delivered  to Seattle                                                               
processors  but, under  AFA,  the  Alaska tax  does  apply.   Any                                                               
revenue would be  insignificant as it is not  a standard practice                                                               
to deliver harvests to the Seattle  area.  The tax rate has never                                                               
been adjusted,  he said,  and added that,  at one  time fishermen                                                               
were  required to  pay observer  costs directly,  out of  pocket.                                                               
The  council sets  the  tax rate,  as it  is  a federal  program.                                                               
Responding to Representative Tarrs' earlier question, the                                                                       
commissioner predicted that bi-lateral trade agreements will                                                                    
suit Alaska as well or better than did the TPP.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:57:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES thanked the participants and announced the next                                                                    
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:58:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Fisheries meeting was adjourned at 11:59                                                                   
a.m.                                                                                                                            

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