Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/10/2020 11:00 AM FISHERIES

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Audio Topic
11:09:20 AM Start
11:10:02 AM HB247
11:33:49 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         March 10, 2020                                                                                         
                           11:09 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 247                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to the  fish and  game fund;  establishing the                                                               
sport fishing  enhancement surcharge;  relating to the  repeal of                                                               
the sport fishing facility surcharge;  providing for an effective                                                               
date  by amending  the effective  date of  sec. 21,  ch. 18,  SLA                                                               
2016; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 247                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SPORT FISHING ENHANCEMENT SURCHARGE                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
02/12/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/12/20       (H)       FSH, FIN                                                                                               
02/20/20       (H)       FSH AT 11:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
02/20/20       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/20/20       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
02/27/20       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
02/27/20       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/03/20       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
03/03/20       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/05/20       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
03/05/20       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/10/20       (H)       FSH AT 11:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
RON SOMERVILLE                                                                                                                  
Territorial Sportsmen                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered testimony in support of HB 247.                                                                  
FORREST BRADEN, Executive Director                                                                                              
Southeast Alaska Guides Organization (SEAGO)                                                                                    
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered testimony in support of HB 247.                                                                  
DAVID LANDIS, General Manager                                                                                                   
Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA)                                                                     
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered testimony in support of HB 247.                                                                  
TOM TAUBE, Deputy Director                                                                                                      
Division of Sport Fish                                                                                                          
Alaska Department of Fish & Game                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions pertaining to HB 247.                                                                 
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
11:09:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  LOUISE  STUTES  called  the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Fisheries  meeting  to  order  at  11:09  a.m.    Representatives                                                               
Stutes,  Tarr, Vance,  and Neuman  were  present at  the call  to                                                               
order.   Representatives  Edgmon, and  Kreiss-Tomkins arrived  as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
           HB 247-SPORT FISHING ENHANCEMENT SURCHARGE                                                                       
11:10:02 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  247, "An Act relating to the  fish and game fund;                                                               
establishing  the sport  fishing enhancement  surcharge; relating                                                               
to the repeal of the  sport fishing facility surcharge; providing                                                               
for an effective date by amending  the effective date of sec. 21,                                                               
ch. 18, SLA 2016; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
11:10:43 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES opened public testimony on HB 247.                                                                                 
11:11:07 AM                                                                                                                   
RON  SOMERVILLE,  Territorial  Sportsmen,  offered  testimony  in                                                               
support of HB 247.  He stated that  he had a graph with data from                                                               
the Alaska Department  of Fish & Game (ADF&G)  pertaining to King                                                               
salmon, which would help him  illustrate his testimony [hard copy                                                               
included  in committee  packet].   He said  that the  Territorial                                                               
Sportsmen  has been  in strong  support  of carefully  controlled                                                               
enhancement programs  and, as with  the commercial fleet,  it has                                                               
contributed as  much as it  can to  the enhancement program.   He                                                               
remarked that this program has  been very successful in Southeast                                                               
Alaska  and  without  it,  personal  use  King  salmon  would  be                                                               
significantly  diminished.   He  expressed  that the  Territorial                                                               
Sportsmens   1,600  members  in  Juneau  are  supportive  of  the                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
MR.  SOMERVILLE,  referencing the  graph  with  data from  ADF&G,                                                               
stated that it is predicted that  escapement in the Taku River is                                                               
going to  be considerably lower than  the minimum of 20,000.   He                                                               
said that  for six  of the last  eight years,  escapement numbers                                                               
have been  below the minimum of  20,000, and personal use  of the                                                               
resource has been  completely shut down.  He pointed  out that in                                                               
the last  12 to 14 years  any harvest that has  occurred has come                                                               
from the  escapement, as  there has not  been anything  above the                                                               
escapement goal throughout those years.   He summarized that this                                                               
illustrates  the dire  situation  for King  salmon struggling  in                                                               
streams  all  throughout  Alaska,   and  added  that  enhancement                                                               
programs have been beneficial.                                                                                                  
11:13:10 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  asked  whether  the  Territorial  Sportsmen                                                               
would be in  general support for the proposed  legislation if the                                                               
licensing fee surcharge  was left in place entirely  and used for                                                               
various purposes.                                                                                                               
MR.  SOMERVILLE  answered that  the  members  of the  Territorial                                                               
Sportsmen had not  been polled on that issue, but  he thinks they                                                               
would support the  reduction.  He said that there  was recently a                                                               
license  fee increase  for residents  and  non-residents, and  he                                                               
thinks it would be  a show of good faith if  the $5 reduction was                                                               
kept in place.  He said that was his recommendation.                                                                            
11:14:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked Mr.  Somerville whether he thinks the                                                               
proposed legislation would target any  excess money that goes out                                                               
for fishery hatcheries and, when  the bonds are paid off, whether                                                               
that money would go directly to  a subaccount in [the Division of                                                               
Sport  Fish]  and  the  rest  of the  money  would  be  used  for                                                               
fisheries management and enhancement.                                                                                           
MR. SOMERVILLE  replied that  he assumes  that hatcheries  do not                                                               
run free of charge  and some of that money would  be used for the                                                               
purpose  of  maintenance.   He  expressed  that  the  Territorial                                                               
Sportsmen supports the  oversight of the legislature  in how that                                                               
money is spent.                                                                                                                 
11:15:23 AM                                                                                                                   
FORREST  BRADEN,  Executive  Director,  Southeast  Alaska  Guides                                                               
Organization  (SEAGO), offered  testimony  in support  of HB  247                                                               
[written testimony included in the  committee packet].  He stated                                                               
that the sport  fleet in Southeast Alaska relies  heavily on King                                                               
salmon.  He  explained that there is an outside  and inside fleet                                                               
and  hatchery enhancement  production benefits  both sectors,  as                                                               
the fish must come through the outside  to get to the inside.  He                                                               
said that  he has found it  interesting in his research  that one                                                               
out of two King salmon harvested  from 2005 to 2016 by the inside                                                               
sport  fisheries, which  includes Juneau,  Ketchikan, Petersburg,                                                               
and Wrangell,  were of  hatchery descent.   He expressed  that he                                                               
thinks everyone knows  the importance of these  fish for resident                                                               
and non-resident sport fishermen,  and SEAGO supports keeping the                                                               
money from  fees coming in.   He  said that his  understanding is                                                               
that  80  percent  of  the  funds that  come  in  are  from  non-                                                               
residents,  and that  that is  a good  way to  bring in  money to                                                               
support the fisheries.  He said  that this would not only benefit                                                               
sport  fisheries, as  fish are  shared by  all fisheries,  and he                                                               
said that  sport fishermen  feel as though  they should   pay our                                                               
way.    He commented that  SEAGO would  be in support  of keeping                                                               
the non-resident portion of the  fee surcharge in place without a                                                               
reduction; although, he said that  he understands that there is a                                                               
ratio that must be kept in place between resident and non-                                                                      
resident fees.   He summarized that  SEAGO would be happy  to see                                                               
additional  funds  coming  toward Southeast  Alaska  for  further                                                               
enhancement and maintenance.                                                                                                    
11:17:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR  observed   that   the  written   testimony                                                               
submitted by  SEAGO said the same  thing as Mr. Braden;  it would                                                               
support an amended bill that  keeps the original surcharge amount                                                               
for  non-residents,   with  the   additional  revenue   aimed  at                                                               
increasing production and/or  marking  of  hatchery chinook.  She                                                               
asked whether SEAGO would not  have a problem if the non-resident                                                               
fees  were  to stay  the  same,  given  that  some of  them  were                                                               
recently increased.   She expressed that she  thinks guides might                                                               
be one of the most outspoken groups on the topic.                                                                               
MR.  BRADEN replied  that he  thinks there  would be  support for                                                               
keeping  those  funds  in  place,  and it  is  a  cost  to  which                                                               
customers, consumers, and visitors are  accustomed.  He said that                                                               
he thinks  it really benefits the  fishery.  He added  that SEAGO                                                               
is not opposed to a reduction in resident fees.                                                                                 
11:19:17 AM                                                                                                                   
DAVID  LANDIS,  General   Manager,  Southern  Southeast  Regional                                                               
Aquaculture Association (SSRAA), offered  testimony in support of                                                               
HB  247.   He  stated  that the  lions   share  of the  projected                                                               
revenue from  the proposed  legislation would  go to  the William                                                               
Jack Hernandez  Sport Fish  Hatchery in  Anchorage, and  the Ruth                                                               
Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery in  Fairbanks; however, he noted that                                                               
the  state owns  a third  sport fish  hatchery, the  Crystal Lake                                                               
Hatchery  in Petersburg,  which is  operated by  SSRAA.   He said                                                               
that a  portion of the  operational funding for the  Crystal Lake                                                               
Hatchery flows through the sport  fish license surcharge funding,                                                               
and the remainder  of the funding comes  from the Dingell-Johnson                                                               
Act funding.   He  explained that these  funds are  comingled and                                                               
form the contract  SSRAA has with the State of  Alaska to operate                                                               
the Crystal  Lake Hatchery  and release King  and Coho  salmon in                                                               
specified locations.   He noted that this funding  is critical to                                                               
the operation of the Crystal Lake Hatchery.                                                                                     
MR LANDIS  stated that this is  a user pay system,  which he said                                                               
he thinks  is a benefit to  the people who work  in fisheries, as                                                               
it has  the people who  use the fish pay  for them in  some part.                                                               
He added that  it might be worth considering  keeping the license                                                               
surcharge  fees in  place as  they are,  to whatever  degree that                                                               
would  lessen the  risk  of  a challenge  on  the  ratio of  non-                                                               
residents to  residents.  He  summarized that SSRAA  supports the                                                               
passage of HB 247, and noted  that at the recent United Fishermen                                                               
of  Alaska (UFA)  meeting, UFA  announced  support of  HB 247  as                                                               
well.   He added that  another commercial user group,  the Alaska                                                               
Trollers Association, submitted a letter of support for HB 247.                                                                 
11:22:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  noted, because  it had been  mentioned a  couple of                                                               
times, that  non-residents cannot  be charged a  fee that  is not                                                               
charged  to  residents,  although the  non-resident  license  fee                                                               
could be increased.                                                                                                             
11:22:40 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES, after  ascertaining that there was no  one else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 247.                                                                           
CHAIR STUTES  commented that on page  1, of HB 247,  it is stated                                                               
that funding  shall be allocated  to  sport  fishing facilities,                                                                
and the term sport fishing facilities  is rather broad.  She said                                                               
that  according to  ADF&G, sport  fishing facilities  can include                                                               
things like  trail renovations and  access ramps.  She  said that                                                               
while she  does support  keeping the  trails well  maintained, it                                                               
does not directly support the  health of the resource, but simply                                                               
access  to it.   She  expressed that  she would  like to  see the                                                               
proposed  legislation   tightened up   to  be  specific to  stock                                                               
enhancement and  maintenance at  Alaskas  sport  fish hatcheries,                                                               
so that funding  will always benefit the resource  and not simply                                                               
human access  to it.  She  remarked that she would  be interested                                                               
in hearing the committee and ADF&Gs comments on that topic.                                                                     
CHAIR  STUTES remarked  that HB  247  proposes to  reduce the  $9                                                               
surcharge  to  $4.   She  remarked  that  she  is in  support  of                                                               
continuing the $4 surcharge in  support of the states  sport fish                                                               
hatcheries,  but  she  wondered  whether the  $5  that  the  bill                                                               
proposed  to   kick back   could  be  better used  for  fisheries                                                               
management and  research within ADF&G,  particularly in  light of                                                               
recent budget reductions and various  challenges to the resource,                                                               
including  ocean  acidification,  ocean and  river  warming,  and                                                               
invasive  species.   She  asked  Tom  Taube, Deputy  Director  at                                                               
ADF&G, what  ADF&Gs  thought  is on leaving  the $5  surcharge in                                                               
place  and  making  it available  for  fisheries  management  and                                                               
research.  She remarked that this would seem prudent to her.                                                                    
11:24:55 AM                                                                                                                   
TOM  TAUBE,  Deputy  Director, Division  of  Sport  Fish,  Alaska                                                               
Department of  Fish & Game,  answered questions pertaining  to HB                                                               
247.  He said that ADF&G  would be receptive to what Chair Stutes                                                               
was  proposing, but  it would  want to  ensure that  the benefits                                                               
would  be to  sport anglers  and sport  fisheries related  to the                                                               
additional projects that  would be funded by  the full surcharge.                                                               
He remarked,  referencing invasive species, that  the Division of                                                               
Sport Fisheries has  taken lead on much of the  pike reduction in                                                               
the  Mat-Su area  and the  Kenai  Peninsula, and  funds would  go                                                               
toward that.   He said  that there  are needs regarding  King and                                                               
Coho salmon  assessment and research  on the Kenai  Peninsula and                                                               
Mat-Su area, as well as  for other resident species research that                                                               
could occur in Southeast Alaska  and the Interior.  He summarized                                                               
that ADF&G  would be receptive  to seeing  a full fee  amount but                                                               
would defer to the legislature to make that happen at this time.                                                                
11:26:18 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  commented that  he uses lakes  where ADF&G                                                               
drops sport  fish in by  airplane, and there  are a lot  of lakes                                                               
like  that  that are  not  accessible  by  road that  have  trail                                                               
access.   He said that  a lot of  those lakes start  at different                                                               
state parks,  like the  Red Shirt  Lake out  of Nancy  Lake State                                                               
Park.   He  said he  thinks any  fisheries that  receive Dingell-                                                               
Jonson funds  must have public  access, and stock fish  cannot be                                                               
put in  a lake that  does not have public  access.  He  said that                                                               
there needs to  be adequate access that is  identified, so people                                                               
are  not crossing  private property  to catch  the fish  that are                                                               
being stocked.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN   said  that   he  noticed   the  proposed                                                               
legislation  would also  change  the hunting  license  fees.   He                                                               
noted  that the  title of  the proposed  legislation pertains  to                                                               
sport fishing enhancement.   He expressed that  he wondered where                                                               
the legal  authority is  to change  hunting and  trapping license                                                               
fees,  because  the  proposed  legislation  is  about  the  sport                                                               
fisheries and  the $9 surcharge  that sport fishermen,  under the                                                               
North  American  Model of  Wildlife  Conservation,  are taxed  to                                                               
support  sport fish  hatcheries.   He  said he  is  not sure  how                                                               
changing hunting  licenses fits in  to the title of  the proposed                                                               
legislation, and  there might be a  legal issue as to  how far it                                                               
can go under the authority of the ADF&G fund.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN asked  why  sport  fish enhancement  funds                                                               
would go  to a  hatchery, like  a Pink  salmon hatchery,  when 98                                                               
percent  of those  fish are  caught by  commercial fishermen,  in                                                               
what could be  called a  terminal fishery.   He  opined that this                                                               
is a wonderful program that is "working like it should."                                                                        
11:28:49 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES commented  that it appears the  hunting and trapping                                                               
license was included in the  increase in the original legislation                                                               
on that topic.                                                                                                                  
11:29:01 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  thanked Representative Neuman  for pointing                                                               
out the increase in licensing  fees for hunting and trapping, and                                                               
said  that  on page  3  of  the  proposed legislation,  the  non-                                                               
resident  and  military  fee  applies to  small  game  and  sport                                                               
fishing licenses  as well.  She  commented that if the  fees were                                                               
kept  in place,  the original  amount requested  could go  toward                                                               
sport  fish  hatcheries  maintenance   and  operations,  but  the                                                               
additional amount could go to  ADF&G for management and research.                                                               
She expressed  that she would like  an answer on the  legality of                                                               
the   crossover  of  this  combined  license.     She  noted  the                                                               
feedback  on  the   committee's  intent  for  the   money  to  go                                                               
specifically  towards fish  management  and  research, which  she                                                               
said, "We all support," but she  said that the needs of ADF&G are                                                               
great.   She  asked whether  there is  crossover management  that                                                               
doesnt   just  affect  sport  fishing,  that  these  funds  could                                                               
support.  She  expressed that there is good in  focusing funds to                                                               
specific things,  but ADF&G  should have  the ability  to utilize                                                               
the funds where there are needs that might have been overlooked.                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES remarked  that the  proposed legislation  says,  an                                                               
act relating  to the fish and  game fund,  and she  said that she                                                               
would imagine  that is  where the  hunting license  portion comes                                                               
into play.                                                                                                                      
11:31:02 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  remarked that she  likes the ideas,  and she                                                               
thinks that the fee structure  is currently very reasonable.  She                                                               
said that as the conversation  on how to maintain essential state                                                               
services progresses some of the  newer ideas would take some time                                                               
to evolve  into, and the  proposed legislation is  something that                                                               
is already operational, which she likes.   She opined that HB 247                                                               
would fill an  important need.  She said that  she thinks this is                                                               
one of  the topics that  all Alaskans  care about, and  she likes                                                               
the conversation  of having  more specificity  in which  piece of                                                               
the surcharge,  if left in  its entirety, would go  towards stock                                                               
enhancement  and maintenance  of  the  sport fishery  hatcheries.                                                               
She commented  that perhaps it  could be  made clearer as  to how                                                               
the remaining funds could be used  to be as strategic as possible                                                               
in thinking  about where there  are gaps  currently, particularly                                                               
in  information  and areas  that  need  better management.    She                                                               
summarized that she  is supportive of keeping the  fees in place,                                                               
and  appreciates  the   input  that  others  might   add  to  the                                                               
conversation on  how those  funds might  need to  be specifically                                                               
11:32:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR   STUTES  commented   that  according   to  Rachel   Hanke,                                                               
Legislative Liaison  for ADF&G, the  change in the fees  on  two,                                                               
three,  and  four  is  referring  to  the sport  fishing  license                                                               
[HB 247 was held over.]                                                                                                         
11:33:49 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Fisheries meeting was adjourned at 11:34                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 247 Support Doc - Stocking FAQ 2.19.2.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/17/2020 10:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Support Doc - Surcharge Revenue Breakdown 2.12.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Transmittal Letter ver. A 2.12.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 v. 2.12.20.PDF HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Fiscal Note ADF&G 2.12.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Hearing Request Memo 2.12.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Sectional Analysis - v. A 2.12.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Support Letter ATA 3.6.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/17/2020 10:00:00 AM
HB 247
HB 247 Support Letter SEAGO 3.8.20.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/17/2020 10:00:00 AM
HB 247
Territorial Sportsmen Testimony Graph.pdf HFSH 3/10/2020 11:00:00 AM
HB 247