Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/29/1995 05:05 PM House FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HFSH - 03/29/95                                                               
 HB 175 - SPORT FISH GUIDE LICENSING                                         
 Number 236                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN, the prime sponsor of HB 175, gave the committee           
 a brief synopsis.  He said the emphasis of this bill is to create             
 a guiding license for sport fish guides and tying a recording                 
 system to that licensing.  The data collected would be very                   
 important for this aspect of the industry.  The commercial fishing            
 groups already have a recording mechanism in place.  This will add            
 another method for determining how many sport fish are being taken.           
 It will help the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to set                    
 licenses, fees and deal with allocation issues.                               
 Number 279                                                                    
 JOHN JOYNER testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, with                 
 concerns about HB 175.  He wanted to know where the resident fee of           
 $200 was going to go.  He stated, "I hear the state just enacted a            
 guide registration bill, so we really don't need that.  The data              
 that needs to be gathered, we already are doing extensive (indisc.)           
 samples."  He wanted to know what the point of the bill was.                  
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN felt that the amount of data that has been                 
 collected is insufficient to make the proper determinations of what           
 is happening in the industry.  It is one more step in the process             
 of the overall use of what the resource is.  The money will go                
 towards the staff time and compilation of the data after it is                
 Number 318                                                                    
 KEN DOLE, Managing partner, Waterfall Resort, testified via                   
 teleconference from Ketchikan, with objections to HB 175.  He                 
 indicated that he had attended a Board of Fish meeting where they             
 passed proposals to have a registration of guides and a definition            
 of guides.  He thought from that standpoint, the information HB 175           
 is interested in, is already on its way to being recovered.  He               
 also reported that the Board of Fish established a task force to              
 work with the board and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game                
 (ADF&G), to establish what additional information or regulations              
 that need to be implemented.  He mentioned, "When your talking                
 about log books and individual charter boat operators providing               
 information, you're going to get information that is probably                 
 seriously flawed.  In my operation, I have 80 employees.  I have 25           
 guides.  I can't fudge.  I have people looking over my shoulders,             
 disgruntled employees can turn me in, that type of thing.  I have             
 to play by the rules.  But when you have a single guide out there             
 that's operating a charter boat, he can do pretty much whatever he            
 wants."  He also spoke to the allocation of the king salmon issue             
 and the many guides that will get into limited entry.  In closing,            
 he reiterated that the Board of Fish is moving on this topic and              
 maybe we can wait on legislation and see how they and the task                
 force move on these issues.                                                   
 Number 370                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON expressed to Mr. Dole that the Board of              
 Fish proposal number 299 and the substitute language, reflects no             
 fee affiliated with what the Board of Fish did through                        
 administrative regulations.  He felt without a fee, we're going to            
 be diverting resources from other ADF&G programs to accomplish what           
 the regulations do.  He wasn't sure if we can afford to divert                
 funds from any other division activities.                                     
 Number 383                                                                    
 MR. DOLE felt the Board of Fish didn't have the ability to                    
 implement fees.  He also expressed the concern that many of his               
 guides are no longer in the state, and his company alone will be              
 paying about $14,000  next year for guide registration fees.  He              
 suggested that the ADF&G come back and say, "We are going to need             
 this amount of money and we believe there's this number of guides             
 out there, let's divide that up and you put that number in the                
 bill, I couldn't argue with that."                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON recounted by saying the amount of money                  
 collected on the fee is a separate debate.  He didn't view this as            
 a revenue bill.  His concern was over stretching ADF&G's resources            
 too thin to accomplish the regulations the Board of Fish has                  
 Number 412                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN felt that HB 175 is a revenue bill.  He made              
 the comparison between a commercial fishing license and a fish                
 guide license.                                                                
 Number 420                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked Mr. Ogan for a clarification in the                  
 comparison of licenses.                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN cited Alaska Statute 16.05.480, commercial                
 fishing license.  The fee is set at $30 for residents and $90 for             
 nonresidents.  He felt the fees in comparison were out of line.               
 But he also proposed that we keep the fees in HB 175 and raise the            
 commercial license fees.                                                      
 Number 432                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CARL MOSES felt that the proposed fees in HB 175               
 were fair as compared to other sport fishermen licenses.  He also             
 offered that they take into consideration fishery permits as a                
 fairer comparison.                                                            
 Number 442                                                                    
 BILL STEFFEN, Chairman, Cordova Charter Boat Owners Association,              
 testified via teleconference from Cordova, in opposition to HB 175.           
 He felt that the ADF&G is gathering information from different                
 places.  He also felt that the fee structure was out of line.  He             
 related that we would get more response from the sport fishing                
 people if you have them report on a voluntary basis.  If the state            
 wants more revenue, they should do something about the                        
 nonresidential commercial fishermen.                                          
 Number 470                                                                    
 BILL FOSTER, President, Sitka Charters Members Association,                   
 testified via teleconference from Sitka, with concerns about HB
 175.  He emphasized the need to move slowly on this bill, in lieu             
 of the recent Board of Fish proposal and the formation of the task            
 force.  They are evaluating how the Board of Fish proposal and HB
 175 could work together.  Specifically on HB 175 he stated, "The              
 merit we find in this bill is identifying who is guiding sport                
 anglers.  For years, we in Sitka and other parts of Southeast, have           
 been bashed with the so-called explosive growth, based on vessel              
 registration.  The vessel registration now enforced in Southeast,             
 does not reflect the person actively engaged in sporting fish                 
 charters.  Just having a Coast Guard license and a vessel                     
 registered does not mean you're in business.  Time and again we               
 have persons with a vessel on the list, they can insist they were             
 charter boat operators.  This is like me speaking for longliners,             
 since I helped a person pull one halibut skate about ten years ago.           
 Over and over we've been hit with this large 166 vessel                       
 registration in the 1994 Sitka list.  When you really look at the             
 list, you can eliminate about a hundred vessels, that for one                 
 reason or another do not charter for sport fishing in Sitka.  For             
 that reason, we would like to see a guide permit that would help              
 reflect the true nature of the business."                                     
 MR. FOSTER continued by saying, "What bothers us about HB 175 is              
 the report section.  Most of us keep very complete records for our            
 own use.  First, if we were to accept HB 175, we would have to have           
 assurance that a group of sport fish guides would be involved with            
 the sport fish division to develop the reporting form and the                 
 information required.  I think the kinds of information, especially           
 on kinds and species and things like that, is very important on how           
 that is approached, especially in light of some negotiations with             
 our good friends in other parts of the Northwest.  On the other               
 hand, the good part of the reports required, is that it would                 
 identify those speculators who get the permits, but do not guide              
 clients.  Now they could falsify it, but we think the penalty is              
 fairly severe.  In fact, I think you could make the penalty even              
 greater, with a fine also."  He further said, "As far as the fee of           
 for $200 per permit; we can live with that.  It would be worth it             
 almost to get the speculators out and get realistic numbers of                
 sport fish guides.  As far as the $600 nonresident, it won't keep             
 them out, but it will make them think a little bit."                          
 Number 516                                                                    
 DAVE BENTON, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish            
 & Game (ADF&G), testified in support of HB 175.  He stated that               
 ADF&G has been supportive of this bill.  He believed that something           
 like HB 175 is necessary for the charter industry.  He indicated              
 that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) has               
 taken up the issue of charter boats and restricting sport charter             
 operations with regard to halibut.  He said, "The state is the                
 entity that ought to be regulating this industry and that Alaskan's           
 should be shaping how the charter industry is managed in the                  
 future."  Furthermore he said, "The federal system just isn't                 
 really the place that we want to see this activity regulated."  He            
 also shared that the Board of Fish and the NPFMC talked about the             
 different proposals out before the Board of Fish.  The NPFMC                  
 deferred action because of these talks, he disclosed.  He didn't              
 feel that proposal 299, that passed the Board of Fish, is going to            
 address the kinds of questions and concerns that were posed at the            
 NPFMC meeting.  It does begin to initiate a program to register               
 guides and start collecting some information.  But he pointed out             
 that it doesn't address some other basic kinds of information that            
 are important, such as numbers of clients, time in area and                   
 Number 596                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if it was possible to take some of the              
 funds from this bill, if passed, and dedicate some of this money to           
 the Fish and Wildlife Protection Division.                                    
 Number 616                                                                    
 JOHN BURKE, Acting Director Sport Fish Division, answered that the            
 money collected would go to ADF&G.  Generally, if it comes from               
 license fees, then it probably couldn't go to the protection                  
 Number 624                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Mr. Benton the authority of the Board of           
 Fish to institute fees.                                                       
 Number 630                                                                    
 MR. BENTON responded by saying, "It's my understanding that fees              
 have to be enacted statutorily.  The Board of Fish cannot enact               
 fees.  It's the prerogative of the legislature to do bills such as            
 this to collect fees."                                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS affirmed this answer by saying, "We see                  
 proposal 299 and that doesn't institute any fee.  It may recommend,           
 but it doesn't institute any fee."                                            
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN also specified, "That's also my understanding              
 that 299 does not give the direction to gather the data either."              
 Number 639                                                                    
 MR. BENTON confirmed both statements by saying, "I looked at 299              
 and it does require collection of some information at the time of             
 registration, but it doesn't require the kinds of information we              
 would gather in season from the guides."                                      
 Number 644                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON commented on one of the questions that Mr.               
 Foster from Sitka had asked.  That question had to do with making             
 sure that the industry was involved with the drafting of the                  
 information gathering regime.  He asked Mr. Benton if it was                  
 possible to notify people who have testified previously on this               
 Number 652                                                                    
 MR. BENTON replied that it would go out for public comment and they           
 could certainly contact those individuals who had testified.  He              
 indicated that ADF&G would be very interested in the guide                    
 industry's comments on the regulations.                                       
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN advised the committee that it was his intention            
 not to move HB 175 out of committee tonight.  He felt more                    
 information is needed from both the public and the ADF&G.                     
 Number 662                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked if a chart could be provided from the              
 ADF&G and address the fees that are paid now versus the fees                  
 proposed in HB 175.                                                           
 MR. BENTON indicated that guides basically don't pay anything                 
 through the ADF&G.  There are vessel registration fees that people            
 would have to pay.  He wasn't clear if ADF&G had access to all that           
 information, but will try and put together as much as they can.               
 Number 672                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN thought it would be helpful if someone from the           
 Department of Commerce and Economic Development could speak to this           
 issue.  He compared fees to the Big Game Commercial Services Board            
 and how it pays to support the board functions.  He also cited                
 Alaska Statute 16.43.160, setting fees from $10 to $750 for limited           
 entry permits.  That money also goes to support the Limited Entry             
 Commission.  He thought that the fees are too high in HB 175 and we           
 should compare what the fees are for and what the fees support.               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN announced that the committee would invite                  
 someone from the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to           
 discuss HB 175.                                                               
 Number 688                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON felt the fees should be equitable, but we also           
 have to be sure we match the fees with the work product that is               
 expected of the ADF&G.  We want to collect enough, but not more               
 than enough.  He pointed out that the Commercial Fisheries Entry              
 Commission license fees are now contributing to the general fund.             
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN affirmed that the discussion on the fee                    
 structure is very appropriate.                                                

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