Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/24/1997 05:06 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 204 - MORATORIA ON COMMERCIAL FISHERIES ENTRY                             
 Number 810                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN announced the next order of business to be HB
 204, "An Act revising the procedures and authority of the Alaska              
 Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Board of Fisheries, and            
 the Department of Fish and Game to establish a moratorium on                  
 participants or vessels, or both, participating in certain                    
 fisheries; and providing for an effective date", and stated that              
 his staff will present the bill.                                              
 AMY DAUGHERTY, Legislative Administrative Assistant to                        
 Representative Alan Austerman, read the following sponsor statement           
 into the record:                                                              
 "House Bill 204 amends the existing moratorium law as part of                 
 Alaska's existing fisheries management process.  The current                  
 moratorium statute is burdensome unworkable and confusing.  The               
 current process involves multiple steps where fishers seeking a               
 moratorium must first go to the Commissioner of Fish and Game, who,           
 in turn must seek authorization from the Board of Fisheries.  Once            
 authorization is granted from the Board of Fisheries, the                     
 commissioner then petitions the Limited Entry Commission to provide           
 a moratorium.                                                                 
 "The Limited Entry Commission is them authorized to go forward if             
 it can make findings required by the current statute, which are               
 difficult to understand and mutually inconsistent.                            
 "This process prevents a quick response in fisheries that are                 
 growing too rapidly to ensure effective management.  As a result,             
 the resource and the economic livelihood of fishers could be                  
 jeopardized.  In some situations, Alaska Department of Fish and               
 Game's only recourse is to close the fishery or refuse to open a              
 new fishery if effort cannot be controlled.                                   
 "House Bill 204 would allow fishers seeking a moratorium to                   
 petition the commission directly.  This legislation would also give           
 the commission the authority to place a moratorium on vessels and             
 gear as well as individuals.  This is important in a fishery like             
 the Bering Sea Korean Hair Crab Fishery, which is a bill we did               
 last year.                                                                    
 "Under the current statute, eligibility to participate during the             
 moratorium is based on past participation.  This requirement                  
 precludes the use of a moratorium in new fisheries or in fisheries            
 that have remained closed for years.  In these two situations,                
 participation level in an open access fishery may be initially too            
 great to promote resource conservation and sustainable fisheries.             
 House Bill 204 would allow the commission to implement a moratorium           
 in such fisheries and base eligibility on other reasonable                    
 standards such as participation in similar fisheries.                         
 "Additionally, HB 204 would allow the state to extend its                     
 moratorium authority to offshore fisheries adjacent to state waters           
 when consistent with federal law.                                             
 "Improving the moratorium law is consistent with our concern for              
 developing and protecting jobs, as well as streamlining government            
 an resource protection."                                                      
 Number 989                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that, sponsor of the Senate version of              
 the bill, Senator Loran Leman was present.                                    
 Number 997                                                                    
 DALE ANDERSON, Chairman, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission,               
 Alaska Department of Fish and Game, stated that the bill makes a              
 lot of sense, it is an opportunity to streamline the process and              
 gives fisherman direct access to the commission as was originally             
 intended.  It relives the legislature of dealing with moratorium              
 issues, issues that the commission is paid to deal with.  The bill            
 has a zero fiscal note, it will be a financial savings to the state           
 as well.  He stated that the commission does have an existing                 
 moratorium authority, it is not something that is being looked at             
 as a new authority, but it is a very confusing convoluted process             
 that the public has to go through to obtain a moratorium in their             
 fishery and the bill will provide direct access to the commission             
 by the individual fishers.                                                    
 Number 1114                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if the language on Section 3, page 2,               
 since this is not a permanent limited entry but a moratorium, get             
 the authority from the legislature to invoke a permanent limited              
 Number 1123                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON responded that the difference between a moratorium and           
 a limited entry is, a limited entry is a permanent piece of                   
 legislation, and a moratorium is a sunsetted opportunity to place             
 a participation cap on a fishery that has been brought to the                 
 commission as one that has a resource with an economic viability              
 concern.  It gives the commission four years to decide whether or             
 not a permanent limited entry program is proper for the fishery.              
 He stated that in the Southeast Dungeness Crab Fishery this is what           
 we had, which worked well, resulting in a management plan in that             
 Number 1242                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked what has been repealed in Section 10.               
 Number 1255                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that he would have to get back to                        
 Representative Ogan on that.                                                  
 Number 1274                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that everyone has to understand that this           
 is not a limited entry issue, it is a moratorium issue and how it             
 is applied to the fisheries that are in crisis.                               
 Number 1286                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that he would have to debate that point            
 and would have to call the moratorium a temporary limited entry.              
 You limited that amount of people that can fish so we are giving              
 the commission the ability to declare a temporary limited entry.              
 Number 1308                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN replied if there is a fishery that is in crisis            
 how would you do it.  The objective of a moratorium is to be able             
 to still have a fishery and not let it go rampant and destroy                 
 itself.  He asked if the moratorium has to go the full four years.            
 Number 1332                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON responded that it does not have to go the full four              
 years, but in the past in the Dungeness Crab Fishery, the Korean              
 Hair Crab Fishery and now with the HB 141 the scallop moratorium              
 bill, four years has been the acceptable standard.                            
 Number 1362                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that for the record Section           
 explains the powers and duties of the commissioner but not by way             
 of limitation the following duties.  It states, "to petition the              
 Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, unless the Board of             
 Fisheries disapproves the petition".  He stated that it apparently            
 repeals the Board of Fisheries ability to disapprove the petition.            
 Number 1420                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that right now it is required that the                   
 individual go to the commissioner of the Department of Fish and               
 Game, who has to go to the Board of Fisheries, who has to go back             
 to the commissioner to give the okay, who then petitions to the               
 commission.  He stated that the commissioner is repealing those               
 steps.  We want the public to come directly to the commission and             
 we are still required to ask the Department of Fish and Game their            
 opinions.  He stated that the commission is not attempting to wipe            
 out the association that we have with the Department of Fish and              
 Game, rather have it in a more direct line.                                   
 Number 1481                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked, "So you are asking for not only the                
 legislature to give you the authority to close this whenever you              
 want but you are also asking to have the fish board not have a say            
 in it."                                                                       
 Number 1500                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that the Board of Fisheries always had a say             
 in any fish management program that is produced in the state of               
 Alaska.  He stated that we live within the Board of Fisheries                 
 qualifications that they put on a fishery as they are responsible             
 for the methods and means of capture of fish.                                 
 Number 1525                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that AS 16.05.251(g) states "The board             
 shall consider whether the commissioner, in support of the request            
 for approval of the petition, has adequately shown that the fishery           
 meets the requirement for a moratorium on new entrants under AS               
 16.05.050.  The board by a majority vote of its members at the                
 meeting when the petition must be considered shall approve or                 
 disapprove the petition."  Basically we are eliminating the Board             
 of Fisheries from this process and that would take another system             
 of checks and balances out.                                                   
 Number 1572                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there was any part of the bill that               
 bring in the Board of Fisheries and the Department of Fish and Game           
 back in.                                                                      
 Number 1581                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that in any study that the commission does,              
 they have to answer to the courts.  The commission has to go                  
 through the process to make their findings before they can declare            
 a moratorium on a fishery.  He stated that the very reason the                
 commission is asking that the statutes be changed is because the              
 Board of Fisheries should not have that authority to vote on what             
 the commission does.  He stated that this step is unnecessary.                
 Number 1648                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that he disagrees with that statement.             
 The Board of Fisheries should be in the loop.                                 
 Number 1661                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that they are in the loop at this time even              
 within this bill.                                                             
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if he could explain that.                            
 MR. ANDERSON responded that on page 1, line 13, it states "To allow           
 time for the commission, in consultation with the Department of               
 Fish and Game and the Board of Fisheries, to investigate and                  
 evaluate management alternatives, including establishment of a                
 maximum number of entry permits under AS 16.43.240."                          
 Number 1702                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated that if the Board of Fisheries is                  
 consulted and they think that it is a bad idea, the commission can            
 still go through with it anyway.                                              
 Number 1716                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that it would be the same response if                    
 everything the Board of Fisheries were to do and we had the                   
 authority to re-look at what they did.  He stated that the                    
 commission has an effective team now with the Board of Fisheries              
 and the Department of Fish and Game, who all shares one common goal           
 which is protection of the resource for sustained yield management.           
 He stated that the places that we differ are that we look at                  
 economic viability.  The Board of Fisheries cannot look at economic           
 viability.  The Board of Fisheries can look at methods and means of           
 capture, the commission cannot look at methods and means of                   
 capture.  The Department of Fish and Game cannot look at those two            
 things but they have to manage what the Board of Fisheries puts               
 down as the rules.  He stated that there are checks and balances              
 and we have developed effective management plans.                             
 Number 1824                                                                   
 DEAN PADDOCK, Representative, Alaska Bristol Bay Drift Netters                
 Association, stated that many of the members are opposed to limited           
 entry in principle but support it as a matter of reality and is               
 something that is desperately needed and in most cases has arrived            
 on the scene too little and too late.  Part of the reason for that            
 is wrapped up in the bill.  He stated that the association's                  
 biggest criticism is the arcane and obtuse process that the                   
 commission had to go through to deal with situations crying for               
 attention.  He stated that the fisheries are so overcrowded is                
 witness to the fact that we are usually a year late and many                  
 dollars short.  The necessary window of opportunity which the                 
 Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission has had to have in order to             
 take a desired action has frequently been too small for them to               
 assist, in a timely fashion, in making what was necessary to                  
 happen, actually happen.  He stated that this bill will allow the             
 process to work with a smaller window of opportunity.  Declaring a            
 moratorium is something that has proven to be time consuming and              
 difficult.  He referred to Mr. Anderson's statement that the                  
 process can work very well, the fisherman see nothing circuitous              
 outlined in the present statute.  He pointed out to Representative            
 Ogan Section 2 (b)(1), lines 13 through 14, subsection 2, page 2,             
 line 3 and Section 4 (d)(2) which offers more than adequate                   
 opportunity for input by the Department of Fish and Game due to the           
 nature of the way these consultations do in fact work.  He stated             
 that the association recommends the favorable consideration of this           
 Number 2235                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked what the wishes of the committee are.  He            
 asked of Representative Ogan needed further information on the                
 sections being repealed in the bill.                                          
 Number 2263                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied that he still has some misgivings about           
 it but not enough to hold the bill up.                                        
 Number 2277                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS made a motion to move HB 204, 0-LS0802\A,              
 with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note.                 
 Number 2280                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there were any objections, hearing none           
 HB 204 was moved out of the House Special Committee on Fisheries.             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects