Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/19/1995 05:02 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HJR 43 - FISHING AND SUBSISTENCE IN GLACIER BAY                             
                                                                               
 Number 010                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN read the sponsor statement aloud, "This                    
 Resolution has been introduced by the House Special Committee on              
 Fisheries in response to concerns expressed by Southeast commercial           
 fishermen and subsistence users.  Glacier Bay has been a National             
 Monument since 1925.  Congress created the Glacier Bay National               
 Park as part of ANILCA (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation           
 Act) in 1980.  In 1990, environmental groups sued the National Park           
 Service for, among other things, allowing commercial and                      
 subsistence fishing within Glacier Bay National Park.  In 1991, the           
 National Park Service promulgated draft regulations that would                
 phase out commercial fishing in and around Glacier Bay within seven           
 years, and completely prohibit subsistence fishing.  Last year, a             
 federal judge ruled that ANILCA did not prohibit commercial fishing           
 in Glacier Bay National Park, but that ruling has since been                  
 appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Elimination of the           
 commercial and subsistence fisheries in the vast area contained in            
 the Glacier Bay National Park would significantly harm the coastal            
 communities of northern Southeast.  Both fisheries have utilized              
 this area long before park designation.  Also, if the area were               
 closed to commercial fishing, other fisheries in Southeast would be           
 harmed from increased pressure by those fishermen displaced by a              
 closure of Glacier Bay waters."                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CARL MOSES joined the committee at 5:05 p.m.                   
                                                                               
 Number 050                                                                    
                                                                               
 RON SOMERVILLE testified, "As a member of the Alaska Department of            
 Fish and Game previously, I dealt with this specific issue for                
 about four years."  He said, "When ANILCA passed in 1980, the                 
 extensions to Glacier Bay National Park were limited to mean high             
 tide, although the only portions that really extended were in the             
 northern portions.  The whole issue here really revolves around               
 whether or not the state of Alaska still retains authority to                 
 regulate and authorize subsistence fishing and commercial fishing             
 within what the Park Service claims is the boundary of the park.              
 We, of course, have claimed for a long time that in fact their                
 authority really doesn't extend into territorial waters.  We came             
 close to a resolution of this issue two years ago, and right at the           
 dying moments of Congress, we were unable to finalize a bill and              
 thus we went back to kind of a status quo.  Since then, the Park              
 Service has been proceeding with the concept, that's why you see it           
 in Resolution here, of adopting regulations to authorize some                 
 subsistence taking and commercial taking within the Park."                    
                                                                               
 MR. SOMERVILLE continued, "We've always contended that these are              
 not park resources.  The bulk of them that are taken in the waters            
 adjacent to Glacier Bay National Park because most of them are in             
 essence passing through those waters and we claim that they really            
 don't have any jurisdiction over them as being park resources.  We            
 tried to work with the Park Service to develop a process whereby              
 the Parks and the state could work together to maintain some kind             
 of cooperative effort, if you will, but we still maintained that we           
 had the authority to regulate taking for subsistence or commercial            
 purposes.  If the Park Service goes forward with their regulations,           
 which they now have found out that they can allow the taking of               
 commercial purposes within the park, just to give you kind of a               
 glimpse of what we've seen in those regulations:  One is they would           
 like to phase out fishing within the Glacier Bay proper, within the           
 Park which would then affect some of the subsistence fisheries                
 within the Park."                                                             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON joined the committee at 5:10 p.m.                    
                                                                               
 Number 168                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS voiced concern about page 2, line 11 of             
 HJR 43 where it says, "WHEREAS the State of Alaska has a claim to             
 ownership of the submerged lands and navigable waters of the Park."           
                                                                               
 MR. SOMERVILLE replied, "Glacier Bay was included in the general              
 encompassing litigation called the Babbitt case, which the Governor           
 dropped.  That included jurisdictional aspects related to all of              
 the waters of the state," and clarified, "The position of the state           
 has been, I think it still is, that lands underlying the waters,              
 adjacent to Glacier Bay out to three miles are submerged lands                
 belonging to the state of Alaska.  We just have never filed in                
 court to claim those titles."                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 205                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRUCE WEYHRAUCH, Attorney, Allied Fishermen of Southeast Alaska,              
 described the geographic area encompassed in the Glacier Bay                  
 National Park and testified, "What happened is, when Congress                 
 passed ANILCA they created this park and that's when they created             
 the marine water area of the park.  Fishing has continued in that             
 area for centuries and these communities have sprung up because of            
 that.  In 1990, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and American Wildlands           
 sued the National Park Service, the Secretary of the Interior, and            
 said, in part that `You're violating the Marine Mammal Protection             
 Act because there's whales affected.  The vessel management plan              
 for the park that allows vessels going in there is implicated.  The           
 concessionaires are implicated because of the vessels you're                  
 allowing in there.  But they also said that ANILCA prohibits                  
 commercial fishing and that issue was addressed by federal district           
 Court Judge Holland who said that ANILCA does not prohibit                    
 commercial fishing in the non-wilderness waters of Glacier Bay                
 National Park.  The environmental groups have now appealed that to            
 the Ninth Circuit and it has not been briefed yet, but it's                   
 probably going to be briefed this year."                                      
                                                                               
 MR. WEYHRAUCH then suggested some amendments:  Inserting ",                   
 environmental," after "economic" on page 1, line 12.                          
 On page 1, line 13, delete "northern".  On page 2, line 23, insert            
 "if it promulgate regulations" and delete "proceed expeditiously to           
 amend its regulations in order to".  On page 2, line 25, insert               
 "authorize continued" and delete "allow".  On page 2, line 26,                
 delete "non-wilderness areas of the park" and insert "marine waters           
 of Glacier Bay National Park".  He also suggested that language be            
 added to the Resolution to amend ANILCA to authorize subsistence              
 and commercial fishing.                                                       
                                                                               
 MR. WEYHRAUCH added, "The National Park Service is maybe searching            
 for some hook if it's going to prohibit commercial fishing to do              
 that.  It's not easy (for them) because (1) commercial fishing does           
 not harm park values, it has been going on there for more than a              
 century; (2) there's been no environmental harm.  This is not an              
 environmental issue; and (3) the fisheries that are caught are not            
 resident fish species of the park, they're migratory.  The salmon             
 and halibut move in and out.  There are some resident crab                    
 populations perhaps."  He also said, "So it's not clear that they             
 will promulgate regulations.  I think that it's important that they           
 get the idea if they're going to do it, that this is a                        
 longstanding, environmentally safe, economically sound and well-              
 managed fishery by the state of Alaska that should go on.  This is            
 not a problem.  And if it is prohibited, it's going to wreck                  
 serious economic and environmental harm in this state and on the              
 fishermen that work in that area."                                            
                                                                               
 Number 412                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if the first resolve was necessary.                
                                                                               
 MR. WEYHRAUCH indicated that there are ongoing research projects              
 which the state would like to stay apprised of.                               
                                                                               
 Number 434                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that the suggested amendments be adopted.           
                                                                               
 There were no objections.                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved to pass CSHJR 43(FSH) out of committee.             
                                                                               
 There were no objections.                                                     
                                                                               

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