Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519
04/26/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 128 "An Act relating to management of enhanced stocks of shellfish; authorizing certain nonprofit organizations to engage in shellfish enhancement projects; relating to application fees for salmon hatchery permits; and providing for an effective date." 1:50:10 PM Co-Chair Seaton relayed that the last time the committee heard the bill on April 14, 2018 at which time there were no amendments offered. He invited the bill sponsor to refresh the committee about the bill. REPRESENTATIVE DAN ORTIZ, SPONSOR, reviewed the legislation dealing with shellfish enhancement projects. He explained that the purpose of the bill was to advance mariculture opportunities in Alaska through shellfish enhancement projects. It allowed non-profits to apply for and pursue enhancement or restoration projects involving shellfish. They might include red and blue king crab, sea cucumber, abalone, geoduck, razor clams, plus other shellfish species not yet on the radar. Representative Ortiz continued to explain the purpose of the bill. He reported that HB 128 held the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to a high standard in the process of issuing permits specifically requiring the commissioner to make a finding of substantial public benefit and a determination that the project would not jeopardize natural stocks. It was important to note that when shellfish were released back into the wild by a permit holder, the shellfish became a common property resource available for common use. Representative Ortiz summarized that the project held the promise of diversifying and strengthening Alaska's fishery portfolio by establishing a sound, sustainable approach to growing the state's fledgling mariculture industry. The bill had 2 zero fiscal notes. Representative Wilson appreciated the bill. She quarried about enhancement for hatcheries. She referred to the title on page 1, line 3 and salmon hatchery permits. Representative Ortiz responded that the bill was specifically designed to enhance Alaska's mariculture industry. There were several salmon hatcheries in Alaska that came into existence many years ago. There was nothing preventing the state from putting other hatcheries forward in the future. The bill being discussed addressed the issue of the mariculture industry. Representative Wilson asked if someone from DFG was available. 1:53:54 PM FORREST BOWERS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COMMERCIAL FISHERIES DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, introduced himself and asked Representative Wilson to restate her question. Representative Wilson suggested that in the bill the state was enhancing shellfish, which she favored. She brought up the Interior hatchery. It had a plentiful stock, but the fish could not be placed into the river. Since the bill provided a vehicle, she thought there might be some enhancement the state could provide for its hatcheries creating more opportunities. She asked for his feedback. Mr. Bowers responded that currently there were laws in place that allowed for enhancement or rehabilitation for fish including salmon, trout, and char. Those laws had been in place for many years. Currently, there was no law that allowed for shellfish enhancement, the intent of the bill. Currently, a person could not apply for a permit to do a shellfish fishery enhancement project. The bill would allow enabling regulations and a permitting process to be put into place where a person could apply for and receive a permit to enhance a shellfish fishery. As Representative Wilson pointed out, there was already a fish enhancement hatchery program in place for fish. The legislation would establish a parallel program for shellfish. Representative Wilson asked if there was a non-profit means of doing salmon enhancing products similar to what was being proposed for shellfish. She wondered if salmon hatcheries could release stock into the Chena River or the Yukon River, or wherever the need existed. Mr. Bowers responded affirmatively. There were examples in many coastal areas of Alaska. Representative Wilson was pleased with Mr. Bowers answer. She had been told that the state could not. She thanked him. Co-Chair Seaton added that releasing fish into the wild could be different then raising fish. Permits were required to allow an entity to release fish without competing with natural stocks. Enhancement was done by hatcheries or non- profit entities all along the Gulf. He noted there were several letters of opposition to the massive amounts of pink salmon going through non-profit hatcheries and being released. There was some contention. Representative Thompson was aware of the hatchery on the Gulkana River between Summit Lake and Paxon Lake. The hatchery was funded by the fishing industry. The fish were fertilized and taken to a lake in the Interior, and subsequently were put back into the river. He asked if Mr. Bowers was speaking of such a type of set up. Mr. Bowers affirmed that Representative Thompson's comments reflected an example of a fish enhancement project for a private non-profit. He added that a permitting process was in place. However, it did not mean the department would necessarily grant or approve every application. He noted folks in Representative Thompson's district who had discussed a potential project with the department and who might have received some negative feedback. There was statutory and regulatory language in place that allowed them to apply for a permit. Representative Wilson was told by the fish hatchery in Fairbanks that they could not install the fish in the Yukon. The co-chair had stated that the reason they were not allowed was because of the mixture of raised and wild fish. She wanted additional clarification. She mentioned a large amount of money going into the project and that there were issues about fish population. She was concerned with having built the hatcheries and them not working. She had heard from the hatchery that it could not insert stock. 1:59:15 PM Vice-Chair Gara did not want to haphazardly add a fish hatchery provision in the bill. For example, recently there had been a significant amount of controversy about adding hatchery king salmon to a wild king salmon stream. He opined that considerations would have to be studied prior to going forward. Mr. Bowers agreed. The only part of the bill that did not relate to shellfish was the application fee. The legislation raised the application fee for a new salmon hatchery permit from $100 to $1000. Everything else related to shellfish fishery enhancement. The piece related to the salmon hatchery permit application fee was in the bill and where the word "hatchery" was drawn into the title. Vice-Chair Gara was comfortable with the bill being a "shellfish bill." He would be uncomfortable expanding it. Co-Chair Foster directed Vice-Chair Gara to walk through the fiscal notes. Vice-Chair Gara reviewed two zero fiscal notes: [Fiscal Note Number: 2] Department: Department of Fish and Game Appropriation: Commercial Fisheries Allocation: Statewide Fisheries Management OMB Component Number: 2171 [Fiscal Note Number: 1] Department: Department of Fish and Game Appropriation: Commercial Fisheries Allocation: Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission OMB Component Number: 471 Vice-Chair Gara MOVED to report HB 128 out of Committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. HB 128 was REPORTED OUT of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with two previously published fiscal notes, one with zero fiscal impact: FN1 (DFG); and one with an indeterminate fiscal impact: FN2 (DFG).