Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1997-07-10 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1997-07-10                     House Journal                      Page 1984
HB 198                                                                       
The following letter, dated June 20, 1997, was received:                       
"Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                        
On this date I have signed the following bill and am transmitting the          
engrossed and enrolled copies to the Lieutenant Governor's Office for          
permanent filing:                                                              

1997-07-10                     House Journal                      Page 1985
HB 198                                                                       
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 198(FIN)                                                
"An Act relating to regional dive fishery development associations            
and to dive fishery management assessments; and providing for an               
effective date."                                                               
Chapter No. 90, SLA 1997                                                      
ªEffective Date:  June 21, 1997ß                                              
My Administration  recognizes the importance of providing for                  
economic opportunities and sound development of our natural                    
resources.  Despite having suffered significant budget cuts for                
commercial fisheries management over the past few years, the Alaska            
Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), by working closely with                   
Southeast Alaska communities and the fishing industry, opened the              
new sea urchin fishery in Southeast this year.                                 
It is critical to not jeopardize sound management of existing fisheries        
upon which Alaska communities and fishing families already depend,             
as we look to opening new fisheries.  Without new funding, needed              
management costs must be absorbed at the expense of other valuable             
programs.  Establishing self-assessing dive fishery associations through       
this legislation will provide additional management funds for this new         
fishery, assuming that these monies are treated as designated program          
receipts that do not compete with other limited general funds for the          
department during budget deliberations.                                        
While the current legislative leadership has stated its intention to treat     
funds generated by the dive fishery assessment as designated program           
receipts, statutory language may be needed to clarify and to ensure that       
future legislatures will treat them similarly.  Additionally, even at the      
highest percentages allowed under the bill, the revenues generated             
under HB 198 will not be sufficient to fund management of the urchin           
fishery, and probably other dive fisheries.  Without statutory revision,       
further budget demands may be placed on the department.                        
In addition, the bill raises policy concerns.  An assessment on a              
particular fishery to fund that fisherys own management is a new               
direction for fishery management.  It may create a new client                  
relationship between participants and managers of a given fishery.             
ADF&G will implement  the bill in the  Southeast sea urchin  fishery           

1997-07-10                     House Journal                      Page 1986
HB 198                                                                       
with care and caution, considering it a pilot project for this new             
approach.  If  problems arise, the department  will come back to the           
Legislature to explain concerns and seek alternatives or amendments            
to the approach.                                                               
Finally, HB 198 alone, does not prevent enormous amounts of                    
harvested product from being exported directly out of state for                
processing.  Further work is needed to ensure that employment and              
other economic benefits to Alaskans are maximized from this new                
While we must look for creative new ways to fund state services as             
state revenues decline, we must do so with eyes open and with great            
care.  I  look forward to continuing to work with those in the dive            
fisheries, processing industry, ADF&G, and the Legislature to ensure           
the economic potential of dive fisheries is realized while also                
protecting the resource and our fisheries management system.                   
							Tony Knowles