Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/21/1997 02:05 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL 198                                                               
       "An Act relating  to regional dive fishery  development                 
       associations   and   to    dive   fishery    management                 
       assessments; and providing for an effective date."                      
  Representative G.  Davis MOVED  that work  draft, CS HB  198                 
  (FIN),  #0-LS0415\C,  Utermohle,  4/21/97,  be  the  version                 
  before the  Committee.   There  being NO  OBJECTION, it  was                 
  REPRESENTATIVE  WILLIAM WILLIAMS  stated that  the Southeast                 
  Alaska  dive  fishermen have  been  attempting for  the past                 
  decade to establish orderly, consistent and stable fisheries                 
  capable  of providing  dependable  economic opportunity  for                 
  themselves, their families and the communities.  The urgency                 
  to create an  economically viable fishery is  highlighted by                 
  the recent closure of the regions largest employer and other                 
  related negative economic effects on the economy.                            
  Substantial  untapped  dive  fishery  resources  have   been                 
  identified through diver and underwater activities  for over                 
  a decade.  The dive fishery  resources appear to be abundant                 
  and diverse throughout the region.  The potential for future                 
  jobs for  harvesters, processors  and support  industries is                 
  considerable.   The temporary fishery opening is  based on a                 
  one time source of  funding that will expire June  30, 1997.                 
  In order to  continue the fishery  and to develop the  other                 
  dive fishery resources, a stable source  of funding would be                 
  Representative Williams pointed  out that  HB 198 would  not                 
  mandate  but  allow the  creation  of regional  dive fishery                 
  development associations for the purpose  of developing dive                 
  fisheries and  would create  a working relationship  between                 
  the  divers  and  the Alaska  Department  of  Fish  and Game                 
  (ADF&G) to develop annual operating  plans.  The legislation                 
  is permissive  and once  a regional  association is  formed,                 
  divers can hold a ballot election of all  interim-use permit                 
  holders to answer questions.                                                 
  If approved by election, divers would be assessed, the State                 
  would  collect  and  the  Legislature  may  appropriate  the                 
  assessment back to ADF&G.  The appropriation would be  based                 
  on the mutually developed annual  operating budget and plan.                 
  ADF&G would then fund the  specific purposes outlined in the                 
  legislation  for  the  regional   dive  fishery  development                 
  association and ADF&G.                                                       
  Representative Williams  concluded that  HB 198  would be  a                 
  positive  step  forward  by the  private  sector  to support                 
  economic development  and diversification without  seeking a                 
  general  fund  appropriation.    He  urged  the  Committee's                 
  support of the bill.                                                         
  GAME, testified on the proposed legislation.  He  noted that                 
  the  Department does  appreciate the  divers coming  forward                 
  requesting  the  creation  of a  new  fishery,  however, the                 
  Department is  concerned  that  expectations  for  increased                 
  funding are being created by  this business which might  not                 
  materialize.  The development of the new fisheries will come                 
  at the expense of existing fisheries.                                        
  Mr. Bruce continued,  it does  not appear  that the  program                 
  will qualify for  the designated program receipt  funding as                 
  it  currently  is  written  in   the  bill.    Without  such                 
  designation,  these expenditures  will appear  as additional                 
  general fund expenditures.   Without it being  an increment,                 
  funding for the  new fisheries  will have to  come from  the                 
  existing fisheries.                                                          
  He  added,  the bill  would  establish a  close relationship                 
  between a particular group of  harvesters and the Department                 
  of Fish and Game.  There are  a number of concerns which the                 
  public may  have on  developing resources.   The  bill would                 
  establish  a special  relationship,  and  the Department  is                 
  concerned  with maintaining  the balance of  managing public                 
  resources for a broad cross section of public interests.                     
  Mr. Bruce  suggested that  the Committee  consider a  sunset                 
  being  added  to  the legislation  which  would  force later                 
  reconsideration of the issue.   Co-Chair Therriault asked if                 
  the Department was in support of the legislation.  Mr. Bruce                 
  advised  that would  depend on  how some  other bills  moved                 
  through  the  Legislature this  year, and  specifically, how                 
  program    receipt    authority    would    be    addressed.                 
  Representative Williams noted  that he  would not support  a                 
  sunset clause being added to the legislation.                                
  Co-Chair Therriault  questioned  if  the  legislation  would                 
  gradually   move  into   a  limited  entry   permit  system.                 
  Representative Williams stated  that he  did not know  until                 
  all the information regarding need  had been received.  This                 
  is the first year of the moratorium.                                         
  Co-Chair  Therriault   questioned  why  language   had  been                 
  included  specifying  interim-use permits.    He recommended                 
  that language be  held for future legislatures  to determine                 
  if  it  should  be  transferred  to  that  kind  of  system.                 
  Representative  Williams  recommended  that inclusion  would                 
  save a step in repeating the process.                                        
  Representative G. Davis believed that a rough estimate could                 
  be provided  regarding the resource cost of management.  Mr.                 
  Bruce commented that the Department  estimates at this time,                 
  the expenditures  will be  about $250  thousand dollars  per                 
  Representative J.  Davies voiced  concern with  the way  the                 
  money is budgeted.  He  suggested that people supporting the                 
  legislation should  follow it  closely  and support  program                 
  receipts being  used.  He MOVED a  conceptual amendment that                 
  revenues containing various percentages  within the bill  be                 
  classified  as   program  receipts.     Co-Chair  Therriault                 
  Representative J. Davies noted that  he would be amenable to                 
  changing the concept by adding that language  to the intent.                 
   Co-Chair Therriault suggested that Representative J. Davies                 
  offer a Letter  of Intent.   He pointed out that  currently,                 
  the Senate  has been  drawing the  line on  program receipts                 
  that  are  contractual,  recommending  more  one-time  items                 
  rather than on-going functions.                                              
  A  roll call  vote was  taken  on the  MOTION  to adopt  the                 
  conceptual amendment.                                                        
       IN FAVOR:      Moses, J. Davies, Grussendorf                            
       OPPOSED:       G.   Davis,   Foster,   Kelly,  Kohring,                 
  Representatives Martin,  Mulder and Hanley were  not present                 
  for the vote.                                                                
  The MOTION FAILED (3-5).                                                     
  (Tape Change HFC 97-109, Side 2).                                            
  Representative Williams provided a brief synopsis of the sea                 
  urchin history in  Alaska.  Today  there are 500 sea  urchin                 
  divers in Southeast Alaska.   Co-Chair Therriault noted that                 
  over  the next few years, there may  be more people who want                 
  to enter into that  fishery and that those persons  would be                 
  precluded unless they buy one of the existing permits.                       
  Representative Grussendorf informed  Committee members  that                 
  in creating a moratorium,  there becomes a block of  time to                 
  assess and analyze what stock is available and if that stock                 
  could  sustain  a  certain level  of  fisheries.   Then  the                 
  determination can be  made regarding how many  people should                 
  be involved in  that fishery.  The interim  permit increases                 
  the  number  of  persons  becoming  involved, although,  the                 
  moratorium would be approaching  in three or four years.   A                 
  point  system  would be  established  to determine  how many                 
  people  be  allowed  in the  fishery  in  order  to keep  it                 
  Co-Chair Therriault asked if the limited entry process would                 
  be  identical   to  that   used  in   the  salmon   fishery.                 
  Representative G. Davis spoke to his concerns with ownership                 
  of the resource.   Representative Williams stressed  that HB
  198 does  not address  limited entry.   Co-Chair  Therriault                 
  reiterated  concern  with   removing  the  Legislature  from                 
  deliberation  cycle  in  deciding  whether a  limited  entry                 
  permit should be granted.                                                    
  advised that the  moratorium passed  last year requires  the                 
  Commissioner  to  provide  a  thorough  study  of  the  dive                 
  fishery,  with  a  provision  that  they  look   at  a  non-                 
  transferable type arrangement.  Those things will be studied                 
  for the next three years.                                                    
  Representative G. Davis MOVED to report  CS HB 198 (FIN) out                 
  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
  CS  HB  198  (FIN)  was  reported  out   of  Committee  with                 
  "individual recommendations" and  with a fiscal note  by the                 
  Department of Fish and  Game dated 4/10/97, and zero  fiscal                 
  notes by  the Department  of Revenue  dated 4/10/97  and the                 
  Commercial Fish Entry Commission dated 4/10/97.                              

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