Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/14/2019 11:00 AM FISHERIES

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Audio Topic
11:09:09 AM Start
11:10:20 AM Presentation: Salmon Hatcheries, the Alaska Hatchery Research Program, and Being a Wise Consumer of Science.
12:12:22 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
+ Presentation: Salmon Hatcheries, the Alaska TELECONFERENCED
Hatchery Research Program, and Being a Wise
Consumer of Science
By Dept. of Fish & Game
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         March 14, 2019                                                                                         
                           11:09 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: SALMON HATCHERIES, THE ALASKA HATCHERY RESEARCH                                                                   
PROGRAM, AND BEING A WISE CONSUMER OF SCIENCE.                                                                                  
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SAM RABUNG, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG)                                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on fish hatcheries.                                                                   
BILL TEMPLIN, Chief Salmon Fisheries Scientist                                                                                  
Division of Commercial Fisheries                                                                                                
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG)                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on fish hatcheries.                                                                   
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
11:09:09 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries meeting  to order at  11:09 a.m.  Representatives Kopp,                                                               
Edgmon, Tarr, Vance, Neuman, and  Stutes were present at the call                                                               
to order.                                                                                                                       
11:10:20 AM                                                                                                                   
^PRESENTATION:  SALMON HATCHERIES,  THE ALASKA  HATCHERY RESEARCH                                                           
PROGRAM, AND BEING A WISE CONSUMER OF SCIENCE.                                                                              
CHAIR LOUISE  STUTES announced  that the  only order  of business                                                             
would  be  a  presentation  on   Salmon  Hatcheries,  The  Alaska                                                               
Hatchery Research Program, and Being a Wise Consumer of Science.                                                                
11:11:40 AM                                                                                                                   
SAM RABUNG,  Director, Division  of Commercial  Fisheries, Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  and Game (ADFG), started  his presentation by                                                               
asking,  Why  do we have  a fisheries enhancement program  in the                                                               
state of  Alaska?"  He shared  that the state assumed  control of                                                               
fisheries management in  1960 and instituted a new  system of in-                                                               
season  escapement  management.   Between  1972  and 1975  Alaska                                                               
experienced the  lowest number  of commercially  harvested salmon                                                               
of the century.   In response to the dwindling  number of salmon,                                                               
Alaska's fisheries  managers allowed  for adequate  escapement of                                                               
spawning  salmon  and  formed a  new  division  called  Fisheries                                                               
Rehabilitation  Enhancement and  Development (FRED)  Divison. The                                                               
FRED  Division   was  tasked   with  developing   the  knowledge,                                                               
infrastructure, and support  systems necessary for rehabilitation                                                               
and enhancement  of salmon fisheries.  In 1973 the  Limited Entry                                                               
Act  was  enacted to  allow  for   the efficient  development  of                                                               
aquaculture"  in  Alaska.    In  1976  the  Magnuson-Stevens  Act                                                               
restricted  foreign fishing  to  outside of  the 200-mile  limit,                                                               
which Mr.  Rabung said  "no doubt  contributed" to  improving our                                                               
MR.  RABUNG   presented  information  referencing   [the  Private                                                               
Nonprofit  (PNP)  Hatchery  Act],  passed  by  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature  in 1974.    He  showed a  slide  that indicated  the                                                               
intent  of the  Act was  to  authorize the  private ownership  of                                                               
salmon  hatcheries by  qualified nonprofit  corporations for  the                                                               
purpose   of   contributing,   by  artificial   means,   to   the                                                               
rehabilitation  of  the  state's depleted  and  depressed  salmon                                                               
fishery.   Mr. Rabung said it  is surprising to some  people that                                                               
the [private nonprofit  hatchery] program is not  about fish, but                                                               
rather its   about fisheries.   He  went on  to say  the hatchery                                                               
program  is stakeholder  driven  and the  users  of the  resource                                                               
determine  what   fishery  enhancement   is  desired   while  the                                                               
department   determines  the   appropriate   actions  needed   to                                                               
accomplish the  task.  Mr.  Rabung shared that the  mechanism for                                                               
this cooperative  effort is the Regional  Aquaculture Association                                                               
(RAA) working with  ADFG within the Regional  Planning Team (RPT)                                                               
process to  develop the  regional salmon plan.   The  RPT advises                                                               
the ADFG  commissioner on  salmon fisheries  enhancement planning                                                               
and permitting within their regions.  The primary function of the                                                               
RPT is to create regional comprehensive salmon plans.                                                                           
MR. RABUNG  presented a slide  which showed salmon  production in                                                               
the North Pacific by all  nations.  North Pacific hatchery salmon                                                               
release numbers were shown to  have increased from less than half                                                               
a billion in  1952 to over five  billion in 2017.    He presented                                                               
information  that  showed  the Alaska  hatcheries  are  primarily                                                               
located  in Southeast  Alaska and  the Cook  Inlet/Prince William                                                               
Sound  area.   Another graph  showed the  Alaska hatchery  salmon                                                               
release numbers  from 1973 to  2018 that indicated the  number of                                                               
hatchery  salmon released  grew from  zero  in 1973  to over  1.8                                                               
billion  in 2018.   Mr.  Rabung's final  slide stated,  "Alaska's                                                               
contemporary  salmon  fishery  enhancement program  has  operated                                                               
since  the mid-1970s,  and  through 2018  has  provided over  1.8                                                               
billion  salmon  to the  fisheries  of  the State,  resulting  in                                                               
substantial economic  value without any obvious  negative effects                                                               
on natural salmon production."                                                                                                  
11:21:51 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES thanked Mr. Rabung for his presentation.                                                                           
11:22:55 AM                                                                                                                   
BILL  TEMPLIN,  Chief  Salmon Fisheries  Scientist,  Division  of                                                               
Commercial Fisheries, Alaska Department  of Fish and Game (ADFG),                                                               
started his presentation,  titled  Enhancement Related Research,                                                                
by  talking  about  the  sustained   yield  principle  which  was                                                               
intended  to  provide  continued   production  from  the  state's                                                               
natural  resources.   He  went  on to  discuss  the ADFG  mission                                                               
statement and  how it aligns  with the constitutional  mandate of                                                               
the  sustainable yield  principle.   He  read a  quote from  R.A.                                                               
Cooley, which stated, "It must  be recognized that the welfare of                                                               
people and not  fish is the reason for a  management program, and                                                               
that if  maximum sustained  yield has  any validity,  it is  as a                                                               
means to important human ends rather than as an end itself."                                                                    
MR.   TEMPLIN  presented   a   United   Nations  definition   for                                                               
sustainable development  which read, "Sustainable  development is                                                               
development  that   meets  the  needs  of   the  present  without                                                               
compromising the ability of future  generations to meet their own                                                               
needs."   He  explained how  "fishery" could  be substituted  for                                                               
"development"  in  that  definition  which would  then  become  a                                                               
definition for sustainable fisheries.                                                                                           
MR. TEMPLIN went on to explore  part of the policy for management                                                               
of sustainable  salmon fisheries.   He explained that  the policy                                                               
was  written to  recognize  there are  uncertainties in  managing                                                               
salmon fisheries.   He opined  that in the face  of uncertainties                                                               
the   State   of   Alaska  needed   to   manage   its   fisheries                                                               
conservatively.  Mr.  Templin then asked, "What  does that mean?"                                                               
before   he  shared   information  regarding   the  precautionary                                                               
principle and the precautionary approach.   He told the committee                                                               
how  the   precautionary  principle's  rules  or   standards  get                                                               
applied: "When human activities  may lead to morally unacceptable                                                               
harm  that is  scientifically  plausible  but uncertain,  actions                                                               
shall be  taken to  avoid or  diminish that  harm."   Mr. Templin                                                               
explained that  if the precautionary  principle was the  rule, or                                                               
standard,  then the  precautionary approach  was the  method that                                                               
should be applied.   He stated the precautionary  approach is: "A                                                               
set  of   agreed  upon   cost-effective  measures   and  actions,                                                               
including  future  courses  of   action,  which  ensures  prudent                                                               
foresight,  reduces   or  avoids  risk  to   the  resources,  the                                                               
environment,  and  the  people to  the  extent  possible,  taking                                                               
explicitly  into  account  existing uncertainties  and  potential                                                               
consequences of  being wrong."   He added that  the precautionary                                                               
approach  involves  the  application of  prudent  foresight  that                                                               
considers  the  uncertainties  in salmon  fisheries  and  habitat                                                               
management,  as well  as the  biological,  social, cultural,  and                                                               
economic  risks, and  the  need to  take  action with  incomplete                                                               
11:29:47 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. TEMPLIN  asked, "Why are  we doing this?" then  answered that                                                               
the presentation so  far had been a long preamble  to discuss why                                                               
hatchery fish  stray and  why Alaskan's care.   He  stated Alaska                                                               
has  taken on  hatchery  management as  a  means to  economically                                                               
benefit the  state but there  is also the requirement  to sustain                                                               
natural production of salmon.                                                                                                   
MR.  TEMPLIN  started  a  slide  by  saying,  "Let's  talk  about                                                               
straying."  He explained in  specific salmon, straying and homing                                                               
are part of the salmon's natural  lifecycle.  He then shared that                                                               
homing salmon  are better fit  to their specific  environment but                                                               
there  are also  benefits  to  straying, such  as  access to  new                                                               
habitat.   Mr.  Templin shared  that sockeye  salmon have  strong                                                               
homing  needs.    They  spend  long periods  of  their  lives  in                                                               
freshwater  which leads  to higher  variability and  stability in                                                               
habitat.   He described  how sockeye  in freshwater  lake systems                                                               
tend to  have variable year  life cycles, which means  they could                                                               
be anywhere  between two and  five years old before  they return.                                                               
Mr. Templin gave several examples  of how different pink salmon's                                                               
homing  behavior is  from that  of  sockeye.   Pink salmon  spend                                                               
almost no time in freshwater and  tend to prefer low gradient and                                                               
rocky  streams.   He  said  pink salmon  head  out of  freshwater                                                               
almost  immediately upon  emerging from  the gravel  and tend  to                                                               
have  two-year life  cycles.    They stray  more  from stream  to                                                               
stream than sockeye do.                                                                                                         
MR. TEMPLIN explained  that stray rates mean  different things to                                                               
different people and  depend on a person's  perspective to define                                                               
what kind  of stray  rate he/she  might be  discussing.   He said                                                               
that "stray-in"  rate is the portion  of fish that spawn  but did                                                               
not come from  the location where they spawned  while the "stray-                                                               
out"  rate are  the portion  of fish  that do  not return  to the                                                               
stream  of their  birth.    He mentioned  that  the  rest of  the                                                               
presentation  would  pertain to  the  stray-in  rate to  a  given                                                               
stream  or  lake, because  what  people  are concerned  about  is                                                               
hatchery fish in wild spawning streams.                                                                                         
MR.  TEMPLIN  said  he  would  not  go  over  the  ADFG,  Special                                                             
Publication  No.  18-12,   but  it  was  a   review  of  Alaska's                                                             
precautionary approach.   He said  there are structures  in place                                                               
that recognize the risks that  exist [when hatchery fish spawn in                                                               
wild  stock streams]  and  try  to control  those  risks for  the                                                               
benefit  of Alaskans.  He  went on  to  discuss management,  fish                                                               
health, and  genetics as  the relevant  policy elements  of ADFG,                                                               
Special Publication No. 18-12.                                                                                                
11:38:09 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. TEMPLIN stated  there needs to be assessment  of hatchery and                                                               
wild salmon  stock interaction  and impacts.   He  referenced two                                                               
ongoing  studies,  one in  Lower  Cook  Inlet and  another  study                                                               
looking at Prince  William Sound and Southeast  Alaska's pink and                                                               
chum salmon.  Mr. Templin said  the Lower Cook Inlet  pink salmon                                                               
project  was designed  to  gather baseline  data  of harvest  and                                                               
escapement  in   Lower  Cook  Inlet  as   two  recently  reopened                                                               
hatcheries began  releasing marked fry.   The studies  objectives                                                               
were to estimate hatchery wild  composition of commercial harvest                                                               
to evaluate  any benefits,  as well as  to monitor  escapement to                                                               
pink salmon  streams.  Mr.  Templin pointed out that  pink salmon                                                               
index streams still meet their  escapement goals as often as they                                                               
normally would.   He  shared the final  conclusion of  the study,                                                               
which  was that  interpretation of  the study's  data is  limited                                                               
since there were so few years sampled.                                                                                          
11:45:40 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  TEMPLIN  introduced  the Alaska  Hatchery  Research  Program                                                               
(AHRP),  a  collaborative  research   program  between  ADFG  and                                                               
private  nonprofit  hatchery  operators,  processors,  and  other                                                               
entities.    The   AHRP  was  designed  to  come   up  with  some                                                               
information that  would help  interpret observations  of hatchery                                                               
stray fish in wild streams and  establish what could or should be                                                               
done.  Private nonprofit  hatchery operators  proposed that  ADFG                                                               
organize a  science panel  of experts to  design and  implement a                                                               
long-term research  project to inform future  resource management                                                               
decisions  that would  be  funded by  the  state, operators,  and                                                               
industry.  The  science panel would be tasked  with examining the                                                               
extent of potential  impacts of hatchery fish  straying into wild                                                               
stocks.   The focus would  be on pink  and chum salmon  in Prince                                                               
William  Sound and  chum salmon  in Southeast  Alaska. The  panel                                                               
would be made  up of thirteen members from  ADFG, National Marine                                                               
Fisheries   Service,  University   of   Alaska  and   aquaculture                                                               
associations. It  would be  tasked with answering:   What  is the                                                               
genetic stock structure of pink  and chum in Prince William Sound                                                               
and Southeast Alaska,  what is the extent  and annual variability                                                               
of straying,  and what is the  impact on fitness of  natural pink                                                               
and chum stocks?                                                                                                                
MR. TEMPLIN discussed  the extent and amount of  straying of pink                                                               
salmon in  Prince William Sound.   Straying averaged  between 4.4                                                               
percent  to  14.8 percent  during  the  study period  while  chum                                                               
salmon  strayed  between  2.8  percent   and  3.2  percent.    In                                                               
Southeast Alaska chum  salmon strayed between 5.4  percent to 9.2                                                               
percent during the same time  period.  Mr. Templin explained that                                                               
by  using  information  gathered,   estimated  harvest  rates  of                                                               
hatchery salmon and natural run salmon could be determined.                                                                     
MR.  TEMPLIN  discussed the  impact  on  the fitness  of  natural                                                               
stocks while  explaining how the  study would take  offspring and                                                               
trace  them back  to  their  parents.   He  said tracing  genetic                                                               
salmon generations in the wild has  never been done.  The process                                                               
would be to collect parents then  return to the stream to collect                                                               
the child  fish as it returns  two years later.   Through genetic                                                               
testing the study would match  offspring back to the parent fish.                                                               
Using the  ear bone, the  study could determine whether  the fish                                                               
was natural or  hatchery stock.  Using  gathered information, the                                                               
study  would  show the  relative  productivity  of hatchery  fish                                                               
versus a wild fish in a wild stream.                                                                                            
MR. TEMPLIN  explained the results  from the first  generation of                                                               
the study.   It showed that in the limited  returns of the study,                                                               
a hatchery  fish was  about half  as productive  as a  wild fish.                                                               
Mr. Templin  made it  clear that  the results  are only  one data                                                               
point in many.  The preliminary results of the  study showed that                                                               
hatchery-origin fish  spawned and produced adult  offspring; they                                                               
spawned   with  both   wild  and   other  hatchery-origin   fish.                                                               
Hatchery-origin  fish produced  fewer adult  offspring and  there                                                               
are  potentially important  differences in  the relative  returns                                                               
between  spawning  male and  female  hatchery-origin  fish.   Mr.                                                               
Templin  stated  there  would  be questions  that  would  not  be                                                               
addressed  by  the  AHRP,  such   as  what  the  competition  and                                                               
predation effects of hatchery fish are.                                                                                         
12:02:23 PM                                                                                                                   
MR.  TEMPLIN  said,  "It  is  important for  of  us  to  be  wise                                                               
consumers  of   science."  He  shared   the  principles   of  the                                                               
scientific  method:   Make   Observation,  Think  of  Interesting                                                               
Questions,  Formulate Hypotheses,  Develop Testable  Predictions,                                                               
Gather Data  to Test Predictions, Refine  Hypothesis, and Develop                                                               
General  Theories.     He  shared   there  are  ramifications  of                                                               
incomplete scientific processes that  are not always negative but                                                               
can put  the burden  on the reader  to understand  limitations of                                                               
the science  and don't move science  forward.  As an  example, he                                                               
shared a paper  describing pink salmon effects on  orcas in Puget                                                               
Sound that  indicated the  orca population  was declining  due to                                                               
fluctuations  in  the  pink  salmon   population.    Mr.  Templin                                                               
explained that the  paper was flawed because  the hypotheses were                                                               
not  falsifiable,  so the  scientific  method  was not  followed.                                                               
Even though there  was one line in the paper  explaining the need                                                               
for further  data, most  people would only  see the  title, which                                                               
was  sensationalistic.  Mr.  Templin summarized  that  scientists                                                               
need to communicate  clearly and effectively and  readers need to                                                               
evaluate the strength of the evidence presented to them.                                                                        
12:10:42 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES said  the information  in  the presentations  would                                                               
serve as  the foundation  for coming  meetings.   She went  on to                                                               
advocate  for more  data  regarding straying  of  salmon to  help                                                               
understand the affects on salmon populations.                                                                                   
12:12:22 PM                                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee on Fishers meeting was adjourned at 12:12 p.m.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
(H)FSH Hatchery Statutes & Regs Overview 3.14.19.pdf HFSH 3/14/2019 11:00:00 AM
(H)FSH Overview of Hatchery Related Research 3.14.19.pdf HFSH 3/14/2019 11:00:00 AM