Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/18/1994 08:30 AM FSH
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 448 - WASTE & USE OF SALMON; HATCHERIES CHAIRMAN MOSES announced the only order of business would be HB 448, "An Act relating to waste and use of salmon and parts of salmon; relating to permits for and operation of a salmon hatchery; and providing for an effective date." He noted the bill was introduced at the request of the Governor. GERON BRUCE, LEGISLATIVE LIAISON, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, said the legislation addresses the issue of trying to get the most value from Alaska's returning hatchery fish. He explained the hatcheries are sited and permitted in such a fashion that a majority of the fish they produce are harvested in the common property fisheries. However, in order to provide brood stock to the hatcheries so they may continue production to provide cost recovery to pay for the hatchery operations, and to protect the smaller wild stocks, a portion of the return cannot be harvested in the common property fishery. It is harvested in the terminal area. MR. BRUCE stated for the most part, the fish that are harvested for cost recovery purposes in the terminal area are acceptable quality fish. However, there are circumstances and conditions which result in a portion of those runs deteriorating to the point at which the flesh is no longer suitable for human consumption. There isn't a market for the carcasses and, as a result, a number of fish aren't unutilized. These fish contain roe which still does have considerable value. MR. BRUCE explained the bill addresses a situation that developed in Prince William Sound in 1991, where a very large return of pink salmon did come back to the Sound, but because of weak wild stocks, the late entry pattern of the fish and the fact that they arrived in a very big rush, the harvesters in the processing industry were not able to deal with the bulk of fish arriving. As a result, a number of fish couldn't be utilized and these fish, three million pounds, were seined, put on tenders and taken to deep water and disposed of. He said if HB 448 had been in effect, the roe would have been salvaged from those fish which would have paid the disposal costs and may have yielded some revenue to the hatchery. MR. BRUCE said three conditions would have to be met before the harvest could take place: 1. The fish would have to be from a hatchery; 2. The fish would have had to return and be in a terminal harvest area; and 3. A determination would have to be made by the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game that these fish were unsuitable for human consumption. MR. BRUCE said the legislation provides for a permit system for the harvesting of the fish. He said the department wants to be careful that only hatchery fish from designated areas are harvested in this manner. There would be a permit system in which there would have to be a request to the commissioner to declare fish, in certain terminal locations, to be in a condition to where only the roe was of value. Under regulations, certain requirements must be met by hatcheries or fishermen that participated in harvest in those terminal areas. They would have to register, and supply information regarding the number of fish and the pounds of roe they harvested. MR. BRUCE said that under the permit system and regulations, the department would have the authority to require additional stipulations in order to make sure the harvest is directed only at the fish they think it should be directed at. MR. BRUCE referred to the value of roe and said the farmed industry does not produce marketable roe as a by-product. Fish in farmed operations are harvested before they are sexually mature. There are hatcheries that continue the production, but very little of that egg production gets into the market. Number 149 MR. BRUCE explained that the value of frozen red salmon in 1989 was $640 million, the value of salmon roe was $76 million. In 1990, the value of frozen red salmon was $657 million, and $86 million for roe. In 1991, the value of frozen red salmon dropped to $354 million, but the value of roe continued to increase to $91.8 million. In 1992, the value of the red salmon was $765 million, and frozen roe continued to rise to $114 million. In 1993, frozen red salmon was worth $627 million, and roe was worth $177 million. MR. BRUCE said it is the department's view that the legislation would result in a relatively small portion of the returns being utilized. In the case of some of the hatcheries and in the situation of the difficult financial conditions facing the salmon industry, if a few more million dollars can be earned out of some fish that we currently aren't getting any value out of, it would be a benefit to the state. MR. BRUCE noted he had provided the committee with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) color evaluation guide for Pacific salmon. Number 189 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLAI asked why the proposal didn't go before the Board of Fisheries. MR. BRUCE said the bill requires the statute be changed and the board doesn't have that authority. Number 196 HEATHER MCCARTY, MARKETING MANAGER, PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND AQUACULTURE CORPORATION, testified via teleconference from Cordova. She explained the corporation consists of twelve hatcheries in Prince William Sound and Cordova. She noted she is also the Public Relations Manager for the corporation. Ms. McCarty said her organization supports HB 448, but would like to see two changes. On page 3, line 12, of the original bill, she would like to see the language "used for brood stock" be replaced with "taken from wild stock for hatchery incubation purposes." REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG explained that there is a proposed committee substitute which changes the words "used for brood stock" to "to be incubated." MS. MCCARTY also suggested that "for brood stock" be changed to "for propagation" on page 4, line 1. REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG explained that the proposed committee substitute changes the wording to "for incubation." MS. MCCARTY concurred with the changes. Number 253 TOM MEARS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COOK INLET AQUACULTURE ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from Soldotna. He explained his association operates four hatcheries in the Cook Inlet Region. Mr. Mears said he believes the bill will be a helpful addition to the continuing need to try to get as much value as we can out of the fish that return. He said there are situations where late in the return they are doing hatchery egg takes and there might be some surplus brood stock. He said if they could take the eggs and sell them, they could generate some positive cash flow. Mr. Mears said he supports the committee substitute. Number 280 RICHARD ANDREW, COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN, testified in support of HB 448. He said he thinks it will help a lot. Number 285 KENNETH DUCKETT, KETCHIKAN GILLNETTER, testified in support of HB 448. He said he believes there needs to be legislation developed to obtain the maximum value from fish. We need to utilize all the fish that we are paying for to be raised through hatchery programs. Mr. Duckett said he believes the legislation will give the fishermen some flexibility to recover resources that are not being fully utilized. He urged passage of the bill. Number 304 BILL HOLLORAN, PRODUCTION MANAGER, SOUTHERN SOUTHEAST REGIONAL AQUACULTURE ASSOCIATION, explained that his organization is composed of three hatcheries, five remote sites, and several other enhancement projects. He said Southern Southeast Aquaculture Association supports the intent of HB 448. Mr. Holloran noted the concerns he had were addressed by Ms. McCarty. He said they support HB 448 based on the fact that the commissioner will provide a clear direction in that the regulations will be consistent with the intent of the legislature. Mr. Holloran said his association and staff will cooperate with the commissioner if he requires their assistance. PETE ESQUIRO, GENERAL MANAGER, NORTHERN SOUTHEAST REGIONAL AQUACULTURE ASSOCIATION, testified from Sitka. He said his organization is in support of HB 448 for all the reasons that have already been stated. Number 333 DAVE COBB, BUSINESS MANAGER, VALDEZ FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION, said his association is in support of the legislation, and their concerns have been addressed by Ms. McCarty. Number 341 KEVIN MCDOUGALL was next to testify in support of HB 448. He explained he is a fisherman and an individual processor in the Juneau area. Mr. McDougall informed the committee members he has been marketing his own salmon since 1991. He explained that brood stock eggs are taken and incubated at a hatchery. The fry are then brought to a remote release area in the spring, where they are held and fed for different lengths of time. The purpose is for the fry to grow and to imprint them so they come back to that remote release area. They do not return to the hatchery even through they were incubated at the hatchery. Mr. McDougall referred to remote release sites and said they are designated as what might be called a wipe out fishery. The fish are not there to create a new salmon run, they are totally for harvest by fishermen that are fishing in that area. Concerns regarding brood stock and escapement aren't a problem. MR. MCDOUGALL said at a certain point in a run, the fish start to deteriorating to a point where the egg value is still there, but the color of the skin and flesh has deteriorated to where the market no longer wants the fish. Currently, there are fish coming to the remote release sites that are going to waste because of existing regulations. He said the legislation will allow fishermen to extract the value from the eggs. Mr. McDougall believes there will be some opposition to the bill from individual processors. If the processors want to continue to buy those fish, that option is still open to them. They can choose to no longer buy a fish, but yet they do not want someone else to extract any value out of them. He urged passage of the legislation. DAVID BRAY, GILLNETTER, testified in support of HB 448. He said he believes it address some of the want and waste that has been occurring. JERRY MCCUNE, PRESIDENT, UNITED FISHERMEN OF ALASKA (UFA), testified in support of HB 448. He noted his organization's concerns have been addressed in the proposed committee substitute. He said there probably will be some opposition to the bill and he is afraid the public might misunderstand the bill. He said it is not in a roe stripping business. UFA's position is that fish which have any chance of being marketed, shouldn't have their roe taken. Mr. McCune said his organization doesn't want to see any abuse. Number 471 There being no further testimony, REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG moved to adopt CSHB 448(FSH). Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Representative Olberg moved to pass CSHB 448(FSH), out of the House Special Committee on Fisheries, with individual recommendations. There being no objection, CSHB 448 (FSH) was passed out of committee with individual recommendations. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to come before the House Special Committee on Fisheries, Chairman Moses adjourned the meeting at 9:20 a.m.