Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/24/1995 03:36 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE Anchorage Legislative Information Office February 24, 1995 3:36 P.M. SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chairman Senator Lyman Hoffman SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Drue Pearce, Vice Chairman OTHER MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Georgianna Lincoln COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 49 "An Act relating to the Board of Fisheries; and providing for an effective date." PREVIOUS ACTION SB 49 - See Resources minutes dated 2/20/95. WITNESS REGISTER Kay Andrew P.O. Box 7211 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Ken Erickson, Legislative Aide Senator Drue Pearce State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 49. Nevin May P.O. Box 3160 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Geneneiva Pearson P.O. Box 669 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Chris Berns P.O. Box 26 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Donald Fox P.O. Box 2971 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. John Bocci Cordova District Fishermen United P.O. Box 1312 Cordova, AK 99574 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. James Mykland P.O. Box 1214 Cordova, AK 99574 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Jack Hopkins P.O. Box 343 Cordova, AK 99574 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Deborah Lyons P.O. Box 296 Petersburg, AK 99833 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Gordon Jensen Petersburg Vessel Owners P.O. Box 264 Petersburg, AK 99833 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Chris Sharpsteen Petersburg Advisory Committee P.O. Box 1255 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Drew Scalzi 41685 Redoubt Circle Homer, AK 99603 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Larry Smith 1520 Lakeshore Drive Homer, AK 99603 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 49. Dan Winn North Pacific Fisheries Association P.O. Box 1272 Homer, AK 99603 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. John Foster P.O. Box 225 Sand Point, AK 99661 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Joseph Carr P.O. Box 294 Sand Point, AK 99661 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Peggy Osterback P.O. Box 61 Sand Point, AK 99661 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Leonard Efta P.O. Box 353 Kenai, AK 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Dale Bondurant HC 1, Box 1197 Soldotna, AK 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Joseph Jolly HC 2, Box 753 Soldotna, AK 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Charles McKee P.O. Box 143452 Anchorage, AK 99514 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Don Mitchell 1335 F Street Anchorage, AK 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 49. Chip Trien 18011 Golden View Dr. Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Drew Sparlin, Jr. P.O. Box 283 Kenai, Ak 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Richard Andrew P.O. Box 7211 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Royce Ranniger P.O. Box 702 Ward Cove, AK 99928 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Ken Duckett P.O. Box 23178 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Andy Rauwolf 7942 South Tongass Hwy Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Kris Norosz P.O. Box 232 Petersburg, AK 99833 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Oscar Dyson P.O. Box 1728 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Virginia Adams 620 Hemlock Dr. Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Al Burch P.O. Box 991 Kodiak Draggers Association Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Bruce Schactler Area K Seiners P.O. Box 2599 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Mike Milligan SR 9121 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Ralph Lohse P.O. Box 14 Cordova, AK 99574 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Charles DeVille P.O. Box 632 Cordova, AK 99574 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Dennis Randa, President Trout Unlimited P.O. Box 3055 Soldotna, AK 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. Ben Ellis Kenai River Sport Fish Association P.O. Box 1228 Soldotna, AK 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported concept behind SB 49. Theo Matthews, Executive Director United Cook Inlet Driftnetters Association P.O. Box 69 Kasilof, AK 99610 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 49. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 95-13, SIDE A Number 001 SRESSUB 2/24/95 SB 49 RESTRUCTURE BOARD OF FISHERIES CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Resources Subcommittee meeting to order at 3:36 p.m. and announced SB 49 to be up for consideration. KAY ANDREW, commercial fisherman from Ketchikan, said she was very surprised to see this kind of legislation. She stated she is totally against it. She had served on the Board of Fisheries and lost her seat because of a political conflict in the Northern part of the state. She did not think it right for the Governor to appoint three people who would be responsible strictly to the Governor. She thought it was important to specify qualifications for people who can be on the Board. She was confused about the length of the terms for the three appointees. Number 56 KEN ERICKSON, Legislative Aide for Senator Pearce, explained that Section 7 deals with setting up the initial staggered terms. The person appointed to the first term would serve for two years, a person who is appointed to that seat in succeeding years would serve four year terms. He thought the appointees would be from throughout the state with varied backgrounds. Number 99 NEVIN MAY, Ketchikan commercial/sport fisherman and a sport hunter, said he doesn't see anything in this bill that he likes at all. The system we now have might be refined a little, but it is the envy of the rest of the Pacific Coast as far as management goes. He thought there would be just as much politics, but just fewer people under SB 49. GENENEIVA PEARSON, Kodiak resident, said her family has been involved in the commercial fishing harvest since 1944. The industry is too complex to have a Board that doesn't have deep knowledge of the fisheries. It doesn't make any more sense to have lay people regulating fishermen than it does to have lay people regulating dentists, doctors, engineers, and lawyers. She noted SB 49 does not prohibit people who have interests in commercial sport fishing from participating. Number 175 CHRIS BERNS, Kodiak commercial fisherman since 1958, said this bill is an attack on the fishing industry. To suggest that the Board have people with no commercial fishing experience is irresponsible. This resource is now one of the few remaining solely controlled by the State and should be managed in a responsible way. A professional Board would not lead to a less contentious process, but it would carry all the pitfalls of a lay Board. A Board should be made up of a group of peers who have an in-depth knowledge of the industry. A Board member should be more of a fisherman than a dentist or a lawyer. MR. BERNS pointed out a contradiction between language on page 1, lines 7 - 9 and on page 2, lines 1 - 2 which describe the qualifications of the Board members. Number 244 DONALD FOX, Kodiak commercial fisherman and a member of the local Advisory Board for ten years, said there are problems within the Board of Fisheries the way it is constituted, but he thought it would be better to try to fix it than to totally change it. He sees SB 49 as, "an attempt by the sport fishing interest, the Railbelt, and Mat-Su Valley legislators to get total control of our Board of Fish." He suggested just increasing the Board from seven to nine members according to specific geographic areas - with representation for everybody. JOHN BOCCI, Cordova District Fishermen United, said he had problems with understanding the word "commercial" as it is used in SB 49. It is also a blatant attempt to put control where it doesn't belong and it certainly isn't going to cure any perceived problems in the boards of Fisheries and Game. He commended HB 141 which confirms members before they serve and said this should be applied to all boards and commissions. He strongly suggested gradually changing the existing system rather than gutting it. He added that he is also an avid sports fisherman and hunter. Number 293 JAMES MYKLAND, Cordova commercial fisherman, strongly opposed SB 49. The Alaska commercial fishing industry is the state's largest private employer, providing jobs for 75,000 people during the peak of the season. He thought more funds needed to be allocated to fisheries management. The present structure of the Board seems to be working. "How else can you explain record harvests of salmon in Alaska during the last five years?" he asked. MR. MYKLAND said he would like to see higher funding for the staff of the Board of Fisheries and for the local Advisory Boards which help identify the specific problems each area is having. He does support HB 141 which would help depoliticize the confirmation process. He also agrees with the Knowles/Ulmer transition team recommendation to create regional management panels. Number 330 JACK HOPKINS, Alaskan resident, said he is opposed to SB 49. He felt the current system is working, and any changes would be a great injustice to the state, the people, and the resource. Number 348 DEBORAH LYONS, Petersburg, said she is a former member of the Board of Fisheries and was on the Governor's transition team, she is currently helping the Salmon Commission, and is a member of the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association. She noted that some very wise legislators created the entire board process, recognizing how much of our State is out of the eyes of the enforcement people. People have to make individual decisions whether or not to obey the regulations. We don't have the enforcement capability or the funding for the ADF&G to observe everything that goes on in this State. Legislators realize that public involvement in creating regulation are important to have effective fish and game management. MS. LYONS said that the board process isn't working very well at the present time, and it needs to in order for people to respect the regulations enough to obey them. She didn't really see how this bill could make the situation any better. GORDON JENSEN, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, said he spent 20 years on the Board of Fish and Game and he thought it was probably the best system. He said people need to have the ability to participate, but this bill would minimize their input. CHRIS SHARPSTEEN, Petersburg Advisory Committee, opposed SB 49. He said we have a system in place that works when it's not fiddled with. Now people have access to the process, and because of that access, believe in the process. The input is incredible as long as it is acted upon. If you put three bureaucrats in charge of the Board of Fisheries, you're going to alienate entirely the users of this resource. DREW SCALZI, Homer commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49. He was a member of the transition team and was surprised that this came up in the Legislature so quickly. He looked at the makeup of the APUC and AOGCC, and the background required reflected what their jobs on the commissions were. He said there is nothing wrong with the process the way it is now. Number 453 LARRY SMITH, Homer, said he spent a number of years on local Advisory Committees and he thought that was an important part of the process that has suffered over the years. He thought the concept of the bill was good, but it needed a lot of work, especially with public input, in all the phases. He thought, however, that the Board should be organized so that it could avoid going to the Legislature to accomplish its goals. DAN WINN, North Pacific Fisheries Association, said they usually don't get involved in the Board of Fisheries process. They use the NPFC. One of the reasons is because they have such diverse user groups that they don't want it divided up. In SB 49 they find the "who may not be a member" section quite offensive and they voted today to oppose this legislation. He didn't think a professional board would be any better than the current organization. The other fisheries on the west coast that have professional boards have declined because of it. JOHN FOSTER, Sand Point commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49, because it prohibits the members of the Board from having an vested economic interest in the fisheries resources. There is nothing about sport fishing interests being prohibited. He, therefore, thought it was discriminatory. He is aware of the problems in the Area M fishery; most of which are caused by political meddling. No other area has been hit as hard by board politics, but he still believes in the board process. It is very important to have people who are knowledgeable about the fishing industry making the decisions for the fishing industry. JOSEPH CARR, Sand Point commercial fisherman, concurred with Mr. Foster's testimony. PEGGY OSTERBACK, Sand Point commercial boat owner, opposed SB 49, because it is discriminatory in nature, because it keeps people who have a financial interest in the fisheries from being on the Board. It implies that a person does not have the integrity to serve on the board just because they have an interest in fishing. Looking at the other state boards and commissions you'll find those people still have a vested financial interest in the businesses they regulate. She used the Board of Education, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Medical Board, and the Judicial Conduct Commission, as examples. A person who participates in the fishing industry brings experience and knowledge to the board that cannot be acquired in any other way than by participating in the industry. SENATOR LEMAN noted that Senator Georgianna Lincoln was on line in Delta Junction. LEONARD EFTA, Kenai commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49. He said in a board with only three members that two people would have complete control of the fishery which could be a disaster. With a seven member board there is representation from various user groups which he thinks is real important. DALE BONDURANT opposed going to a three member board. He said the reason the boards were separated in the past was because it's a big job and the diversity and knowledge was needed. He agreed that it would be likely for "sweetheart deals" to happen with a three member board. He said the playing field needs to be leveled on the existing board, though. There should be some sort of economic requirements to get back to fair representation. He said this is a common resource and all people in Alaska should be represented on it. Number 532 JOSEPH JOLLY, commercial fisherman and board member of United Cook Inlet Driftnetters Association (UCIDA), opposed reducing the number of people on the Board of Fisheries. TAPE 95-13, SIDE B MR. JOLLY pointed out that while SB 49 proposes paying a board the Legislature is having a hard time finding money to pay for other things. People have to remember that all user groups use the fish out there, he said, and they need to look at the habitat concerns that are happening on the rivers. Commercial fishermen put a portion of their income into renewing the resource; he thought it was time that everyone else did, too. Number 571 CHARLES MCKEE, Anchorage resident, said it would be difficult to restructure the board. He said there is a meeting on March 15 between Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Alaska on salmon recovery. He thought it was wiser to work in that direction rather than to put energy into a new board structure. DON MITCHELL, Anchorage attorney, said he had represented clients on both boards over the last 20 years. He said Governor Cowper appointed a Task Force to look into this issue. He said anyone who knows about the regulatory process knows that its time has come and gone and it is more than inefficient. It is morally and ethically corrupt. Senator Pearce, in this bill, attacks only one of three components. First, there is no way to test the quality of information provided by the public and ADF&G and there is no record of supporting evidence for decisions that are made. Second, there are no standards for coming up with a decision. He said that people complain about too much politics in the board process. Consulting the Alaska Constitution, one will find that the Congress of the State assigned the Legislature, not the Boards of Fisheries and Game, the responsibility for making these decisions. They recognized that who gets to use fish and game has a very important social and economic policy consequences. In 1958, when the board process was created by the Legislature, there was no sport fishery and no one cared about the Native people. He said the only statutory guide to decision making is the subsistence statute. The Legislature needs to ask questions like, are mixed stock fisheries good or bad for the State of Alaska. Then the Board, based upon the facts, should make decisions. The third issue, which Senator Pearce is addressing, is the issue of the composition of the board itself. He said people are appointed to the board now, because of their conflicts of interest. That is why people are tired of this board process. MR. MITCHELL noted that the Natives are becoming more attracted to the Federal Subsistence Board and it's because most people are not "mobbed up" with their decisions. CHIP TRIEN, commercial and sport fisherman, said he didn't think regulating fish was as complicated as rocket science. But it requires a great deal of deliberation and consensus building. It should be compared to that kind of thing. Public trust is a very, very important part. The board process requires a great deal of public input and should be considered seriously. A three member board doesn't allow for the same kind of public input that a seven member lay board has. MR. TRIEN was also concerned that a three member board could be run by just two people. He thought it was insulting that commercial fishermen and anyone with a commercial interest is excluded and other people with self serving interests are not excluded. Number 422 DREW SPARLIN JR. said he has been involved in the Board of Fisheries process for many years. He said this bill is interrupting the board process. There is a consensus of minds working together right now to solve issues between many groups. No one is being excluded. This bill would allow only special interest groups to gain control over Statewide management. Number 370 RICHARD ANDREW, Ketchikan fisherman, opposed SB 49. He said he couldn't think of anything to add to what had already been said. ROYCE RANNIGER, Ketchikan commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49. He said it's heavily weighted down with politics. We have the last great fishery in the United States. The responsibility is awesome and it should be managed accordingly. Any Board can only be effective if it represents all the interests which it governs. MR. RANNIGER suggested that the Boards of Fisheries and Game should be as far removed from the political arena as possible. Treat it like the Supreme Court, he said, with life-time appointments. The board makeup would be from all user groups in each area and when a member quits or retires, a replacement must come from that area and group. Due to the vastness of our State, there should be two separate Boards of Fisheries and Game, a Northern Board and a Southeast Board, he concluded. Number 337 KEN DUCKETT said he served nine years on a local Advisory Board. He is a long-time commercial fisherman and resident of Ketchikan. He is adamantly opposed to SB 49 for all the reasons the subcommittee has heard. He said the people who use the resource are the ones who are most concerned with preserving it. ANDY RAUWOLF, President of the Herring Coalition, opposed most of this bill. The Board of Fisheries does need some overhauling, but a three-member Board is not the answer. After sitting in on the last few Board meetings, he thought there was too much power generated among people who are unfamiliar with specific areas of Alaska. He thought it advisable to give each local Advisory Committee a vote on the proposal affecting their area. He thought this would generate a lot more public interest on the local level. Six or eight Advisory Committees in a specific area would make the Board of Fisheries pay more attention to what they are recommending. He has seen Advisory Committee recommendations totally ignored by the Board of Fisheries, he added. KRIS NOROSZ, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, opposed SB 49. They support the present system of a seven-member lay Board, although it's not without its problems. Historically, it has served the State quite well. The Governor's Transition Team on Fisheries fully supported the lay board and made some excellent recommendations for improvement to the present system. One of the recommendations is in HB 141 which would allow for a change in the dates in terms of board members. This would help depoliticize the confirmation process by holding confirmation hearings prior to the appointee making any board decisions. A professional board would lack the important knowledge and experience of Alaska's fishing industry. This would alienate the public and erode the credibility of the board. The present board system needs more funding to ensure greater participation by local Advisory Committee chairmen at the board meetings and to provide increased staff support for the Local Advisory Committee and the public. Number 263 OSCAR DYSON, 48 year Alaskan commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49, because it wouldn't be any better than what we have. Looking at the historical record of management, we still have good healthy runs of fish and he would not want to endanger that with a board that doesn't have knowledge of the fisheries. VIRGINIA ADAMS, Vice President of the Northwest Setnetters Association, said she had been a commercial fisherman for 20 years and was very much against this bill. She spent many years gaining the knowledge to fish in a number of fisheries and she personally would like individuals on the Board who have knowledge of commercial fishing. AL BURCH said he started fishing in 1946 and then the population was 146,000. We are now at 600,000. He has spent 13 years on the Board of Fisheries. In the early days when we had a small population, they addressed all problems of fish, game, and trapping. He said the people who serve now should get a medal for all the flack they take. One suggestion he had was to form a third board to take some of the pressure off the people. He said he knew most of the people who testified today and they represent thousands of years of accumulated fishing experience - a corporate memory. He urged that they kill SB 49 in committee. Number 221 BRUCE SCHACTLER, Area K Seiners, said there has been so much testimony against this bill, that there isn't anything left to say. He wrote a letter last week and pointed out that the Legislative Research Agency has not been able to find a board like Senator Pearce is proposing. It doesn't exist anywhere in the United States or Canada. He didn't see any reason for Alaska to be the guinea pig when we have the best resource in the nation. MR. SCHACTLER said the problem comes from the Governor not appointing the right people and from people in the Legislature that threaten the public with lack of funding for the most needed program in the State unless their people get put on the board. MIKE MILLIGAN, Kodiak, said he was concerned specifically with going to a three-member board. He thought it would be a big mistake. The thing that has made this country great is our ability to compromise and to build consensus in times of controversy. Going to three members would disenfranchise vast segments of Alaska. The second problem is with no vested interest in the fisheries. He thought having a vested interest in the resources is what still gives us the fish to fight over. RALPH LOHSE, Cordova commercial/sport/commercial sport fisherman, opposed SB 49 and supported HB 141. He said the current board process gives all people with a direct interest a say in the management. That is what good government is all about. It also makes for good resource management. It should be left as it is; it has worked in the past; it will work in the future. MR. LOHSE asked why there was only one user group that was excluded from the board in SB 49. He said they needed as much representation as anybody else. Number 92 CHARLES DEVILLE, Cordova fisherman, was dead-set against SB 49, because he wants to be represented on the Board by fishermen. He thought commercial fishermen could also represent subsistence and sport fishermen, but he didn't see how sport fishermen can represent commercial fishermen. DENNIS RANDA, President, State Council of Trout Unlimited, said last year the Council took a position against the Board of Fisheries as being flawed and not responding to the social and economic needs of people across the State of Alaska. He said that politics has been the art of compromise and there hasn't been much compromise between sport and commercial users on the Board of Fisheries. MR. RANDA said he was on the Knowles/Ulmer Transition Team and they did agree that the board process wasn't working, but that they didn't want a professional bBoard. He noted that the board continually uses historical uses as a priority in allocation without regard for social or economic considerations. TAPE 95-14, SIDE A BEN ELLIS, Executive Director, Kenai River Sport Fish Association, said they prefer the current lay Board structure being maintained. If Governors and lawmakers continue to appoint and confirm board members who have direct conflicts of interest and would eventually be "conflicted out," the Board could very easily come to a grinding halt. So he supported the concept behind the bill, but not the bill itself. With the growing emergence of non-commercial users in the State, conflict over the allocation must be addressed in a positive form. There must be a level playing field where decisions are made which are in the best interests of all Alaskans. If that cannot be accomplished by a lay Board, maybe some form of SB 49 is the answer. He commended Senator Pearce for addressing the issue in this bill. Number 54 THEO MATTHEWS, Executive Director, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, opposed SB 49. They support the current lay board process. The proposal in SB 49 would not produce any better results than are made now. Their primary objection is going to a three-member board. He said there would be even more battles over confirmation, because there will be a smaller "pot" to work with - two people could dictate any outcome. This process does not recognize the inherent conflicts that non- commercial users have. For people concerned with reallocation, no board process is going to be fair until they get what they want. MR. MATTHEWS suggested they get better pay for the current board members. They need adequate staff for the current board members and they also need a historian, because too often board members don't know what deliberations went into the original regulations. They need better representation by the Advisory Committees. He emphasized that better pay, better staff, and better participation has been curtailed by this Legislature as they cut funding over the years. Number 129 SENATOR LEMAN thanked everyone for their participation and adjourned the meeting at 5:20 p.m.