Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/09/1997 05:02 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 198 - DIVE FISHERY MANAGEMENT ASSN. & ASSESSMENT                          
 Number 040                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN announced the first order of business is HB 198,           
 "An Act relating to regional dive fishery development associations            
 and to dive fishery management assessments; and providing for an              
 effective date."  He asked Representative Williams to introduce the           
 REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS read the sponsor statement into the              
 record:  "Southeast Alaska dive fishermen have been attempting for            
 the past decade to establish orderly, consistent and stable                   
 fisheries capable of providing dependable economic opportunities              
 for themselves, their families and the communities of Southeast.              
 The urgency to create an economically viable fishery is highlighted           
 by the recent closure of the regions largest employer and other               
 related negative economic effects on the economy of Southeast                 
 "Substantial untapped dive fishery resources have been identified             
 through diver and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)                  
 underwater activities for over a decade.  Many of the Southeast               
 communities have placed the development of the fisheries as a                 
 priority item in economic development documents and locally                   
 developed legislative budget priorities.  The dive fishery                    
 resources appear to be abundant and diverse throughout the region.            
 The small sea cucumber and geoduck fisheries in Southeast have a              
 combined annual ex-vessel value of $2.0 million to $2.5 million.              
 In California, the urchin fishery has ranged in ex-vessel value               
 from $16 million to $39 million from 1990 through 1996.  Geoducks             
 range in price from $6 a pound, live to $3.50 a pound, processed.             
 Alaskan waters contain abundant amounts of these fishery resources            
 plus many others not currently harvested.  This legislation would             
 encourage the identification and development of these resources.              
 The potential for the future jobs for harvesters, processors and              
 support industries, is considerable.                                          
 "The commitment to work together is evidenced in the red sea urchin           
 fishery.  In 1996, the department, after a test fishery, was unable           
 to open the red sea urchin fishery because of lack of funding.                
 Based on positive results in the test fishery and a vision to                 
 diversify and develop their local economy, the Ketchikan Gateway              
 Borough provided funding for the department to conduct                        
 bioassessment surveys needed to open the fisheries.  The Borough              
 continued in its involvement by facilitating and participating in             
 a local task force comprised of Borough personnel, divers,                    
 processors and the department.  The resulting plan was for                    
 processors to "forward fund" the management costs of the fishery              
 with agreements to recoup their funding through a $.05 assessment             
 on divers.  Thus, in January 1997, a red sea urchin fishery opened            
 in districts 1 through 4 in the Ketchikan and Craig areas.                    
 "This temporary fishery opening is based on a one time source of              
 funding that will expire June 30, 1997.  In order to continue the             
 fisheries, and develop the other fisheries resources, a stable                
 source of funding is necessary.                                               
 "The August 1996 red sea urchin management plan states: 'Developing           
 a long-term program to fund the costs of stock assessment, research           
 and management remains an outstanding issue.  If sufficient funds             
 are not provided to the department each year, the fishery will not            
 open.'  This is the dilemma divers face and HB 198 provides a                 
 creative and progressive vehicle to move towards a solution.                  
 "House Bill 198 does not mandate but allows the creation of                   
 regional dive fishery development associations for the purpose of             
 developing dive fisheries and creating a working relationship                 
 between the divers and the department to develop annual operating             
 plans.  The legislation is permissive and once a regional                     
 association is formed, divers can hold a ballot election of all               
 interim permit holders to answer two questions: 1) shall we assess            
 ourselves, and 2) at what rate shall we assess ourselves.                     
 "If approved by election, divers would be assessed, the state would           
 collect, and the legislature may appropriate the assessment back to           
 the department.  The appropriation will be based on the mutually              
 developed annual operating budget and plan.  ADF&G would then fund            
 the specific purposes outlined in the legislation for the regional            
 dive fishery development association and the department.                      
 "All the appropriate checks and balances are in place and all                 
 parties are held accountable.  In addition, all other fisheries               
 business taxes are collected and deposited into the general fund.             
 "House Bill 198 is a positive step forward by the private sector to           
 support economic development and diversification without seeking a            
 general fund appropriation.  Time is of the essence.  I would                 
 appreciate your support of this legislation for passage this                  
 session to keep the economic development for Southeast moving                 
 Number 496                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS stated that there are letters in the packet           
 from the cities of Craig, Wrangell, the city and borough of Sitka,            
 Sitka Chamber of Commerce, Sitka Tribal Enterprises, Sitka Sound              
 Seafoods, Wrangel Fisheries Incorporated, Norquest Seafoods,                  
 Seafood Producers Cooperative and members of the Alaska Harvest               
 Divers Association, Sitka Chapter and Southeast Alaska Harvest                
 Divers Association, Ketchikan Chapter.                                        
 Number 549                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that there is a committee substitute for            
 HB 198 and asked Representative Williams if CSHB 198 version T,               
 4/09/97, is the version he would like the committee to be working             
 off of.                                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS replied yes.                                          
 Number 591                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS made a motion to adopt CSHB 198,                  
 Version T, 4/09/97, as a work draft.                                          
 Number 606                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there was an objection, Hearing none,             
 it was so ordered.                                                            
 Number 643                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked if Chairman Austerman planned to move            
 the bill out tonight.                                                         
 Number 652                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that it is his hope that it would be                
 moved out this evening.                                                       
 Number 667                                                                    
 EDWARD GREY, testified via teleconference from Sitka, that he                 
 supports this bill and he is a diver in the Sitka area.  He stated            
 that since 1989 closure, divers have met with the ADF&G and had a             
 large number of unsuccessful bids to open up some of these areas.             
 What they have experienced since that time has been closure of                
 areas and quota reductions while there is large areas of                      
 unharvested product.  He stated that he is not here to bash ADF&G             
 but it has been a long time coming and the only feasible step is to           
 form this association.  He stated his committment to the                      
 association concept.  The groups in the Southeast have been able to           
 work very well together in the past to do some good.  He stated               
 that this bill is the most important and promising thing that has             
 happened to the dive fisheries in the ten years that he has been              
 involved.  He stated that it is key to have sustainable fisheries             
 in the future to do the work that we need to do.                              
 Number 874                                                                    
 LARRY TRANI, Representative, Alaska Harvest Divers, Sitka,                    
 testified via teleconference from Sitka, that the statement he is             
 about to give is based on the unanimous vote of the membership.  He           
 stated that for the past decade they have consistently tried to               
 expand existing fisheries and develop fisheries that aren't opened.           
 He stated that it has not happened due to budget constraints and              
 now as the oil well dries up, ADF&G is faced with more and more               
 decreased revenues and the fisheries are not going to be expanded             
 fisheries without some mechanism by which to do that.  He stated              
 that due to this reality the divers have put forth this bill.  He             
 stated that this is the only real way we can go about expanding               
 existing fisheries and develop new fisheries.  He encouraged the              
 committee to pass the bill.                                                   
 Number 956                                                                    
 HARLEY ETHELBAH, Representative, Southeast Alaska Dive Harvester,             
 Petersburg Chapter, testified via teleconference from Petersburg,             
 that this bill, if passed, gives the chance to expand the dive                
 fishery as wanted for a long time.  He stated that without this               
 bill it would take a long time to get things done through ADF&G,              
 since they are not able to come up with the funding that is always            
 needed.  The bill will allow things to get done at a faster rate,             
 expand new fisheries rather than watching them slide.                         
 Number 1047                                                                   
 CHUCK THOMPSON, Owner, F/V Darkstar, testified via teleconference             
 from Kodiak, that he represents, in the dive community, 30 to 40              
 percent of the product that is delivered in Kodiak.  He stated that           
 they have been managing the fishery with ADF&G through production             
 yearly, without the department or the fisherman having to put out             
 any funds, for any kind of association.  The department has been              
 sucessful with each area continuing to produce the poundage and the           
 amount of product that they have wanted to come out of the area.              
 He stated that he is against the bill and feels that there is too             
 much undercurrent where he may be forced to have some kind of                 
 assessment to perform the fishery.  He felt that he has been very             
 sucessful in the fishery as it stands and the money and time that             
 would be needed to put man hours on the bottom of the ocean would             
 take a major amount of funds away from the divers.  Most of the               
 major producers in Kodiak do not have the time to put in which                
 would result in bringing outsiders in to learn the grounds.  There            
 is too much that can happen to the fishery when it can be                     
 controlled by outside forces.  He stated that there could be a                
 hidden agenda by outside financing, by canneries that would like to           
 gain some control over this fishery.  He stated that they sometimes           
 sail two days to an area to get the production that they need to              
 get.  He stated that he does not think there needs to be any more             
 state laws made to control the fishery or effect the production.              
 Number 1239                                                                   
 VICTOR BUCHANAN, testified via teleconference from Kodiak, that he            
 tried to get an urchin fishery going for Southeast Alaska four                
 years ago.  The department denied him the chance even though he               
 offered to put up $150,000 because they did not have a management             
 plan.  He said, "they seem to feel, that now somebody else with               
 maybe some higher power, or higher dollars, decided that there is             
 a valuable urchin resource down in Southeast and I want to know why           
 we are not included in it."  He stated that he makes half his                 
 income off of the dive fishery, and at his expense he surveyed from           
 Kodiak Island to Cape Douglas to False Pass.  He stated that they             
 want to shut them out of the Southeast fishery and he does not                
 understand why they should be controlled when ADF&G wouldn't help             
 them when they asked for help.                                                
 Number 1420                                                                   
 STERLING SLITER, Representative, Alaska Harvest Divers Association,           
 Ketchikan Chapter, testified via teleconference from Ketchikan,               
 that the association is opposed to the bill because they believe              
 that the state should fund dive fisheries the same way it funds all           
 other fisheries in the state.  He stated that the he has heard that           
 the Senate will propose language to delete the word cooperative               
 from the phrase cooperative management, which is used over 50 times           
 in the original bill.  If that version of the bill is passed, it              
 will mean that divers will not have a say in the management of                
 their dive fishery, which they were led to believe that this tax              
 will allow for.  He stated that they will be taxing themselves to             
 fund a fishery that should be funded by the state of Alaska through           
 the Department of Fish and Game budget's process.  He stated that             
 the House budget included $171,000 for the management of the sea              
 urchin fishery for the next season.  The House passed the budget              
 last week and it was sent to the Senate.  He stated that they have            
 line itemed $91,600 of the Senate budget to manage the sea urchin             
 fishery for the next season.  He stated that these budgets have not           
 been passed but it looks like they will be funding the fishery for            
 the next year.  He stated that once the legislature and the                   
 governor realizes the economic boost this multi-million dollar                
 fishery will bring to the state of Alaska, the commissioner of fish           
 and game will move the urchin fishery from a emerging fishery to an           
 established fishery in the next year.  He stated that we need the             
 help of all divers to show a unified front by getting behind the              
 need for state funding, not state taxing.  He asked for letters or            
 faxes to be sent to the Representatives, Senators and the Governor,           
 letting them know that over 530 divers and the hundreds of jobs               
 that they create is economically good for Southeast Alaska.  He               
 stated that the jobs are important with the closing of the mills in           
 Sitka, Wrangell and Ketchikan.  He stated that these jobs do not              
 need to be created, they are here and only lack the appropriate               
 funding, which should come from the state of Alaska not by the                
 divers.  He stated it would be unconstitutional since no other                
 fishery pays a management tax.                                                
 Number 1542                                                                   
 MELINDA WEST, Harvest Diver, testified via teleconference from                
 Ketchikan, that she and her husband, also a diver, are against the            
 bill.  She stated that they have collected over 40 signatures of              
 the working divers who also oppose the bill, she stated that a lot            
 of them are diving and can not testify.  She stated they are                  
 opposed to the bill, on the grounds that the bill is                          
 unconstitutional and discriminatory against one user group.  She              
 stated that she has calculated the numbers on current quotas                  
 allocated to the dive fisheries.  A tax amounting to 14 percent               
 would be required to manage and enforce the dive fishery and                  
 support the dive association that is attached to the bill.  She               
 stated that this is the makings of a special interest money,                  
 possibly bribery and racketeering.  In order to make this a fair              
 playing field, this tax should be across the board, to the salmon,            
 halibut, crab and other fisheries.  She stated that there will                
 always be the quotient that who ever has the most money gets the              
 attention of ADF&G.  She believes that this is why the state has              
 always funded ADF&G through the raw fish tax, not special interest,           
 and should be continued to be funded by this method.  She stated              
 that the dive fisheries will be paying a 3 percent raw fish tax               
 next year, which means that they will be paying for the management            
 of the fishery twice.  She stated that if these dive fisheries were           
 to expand and stabilize the three percent raw fish tax would                  
 generate more than enough revenue to be self sustaining.  If the              
 bill does go through she would like the following to be done:  The            
 user paid tax be implemented across the board to all fisheries;               
 cooperative management remain in the bill; delete the ability to              
 use the tax for the dive association management funding; delete the           
 90 days on the purchase of permits prior to voting because we do              
 not feel there will be a large enough group voting on this self               
 tax.  She stated that she would like to ear mark this tax so that             
 the divers do not need to retain a lobbyist to get the tax back,              
 which is an added expense.  She stated that if the divers pay the             
 cost for management then the divers are paying the price to be the            
 boss, therefore, we would like to see the competitive bids for                
 management of the dive fisheries.  She stated that no consideration           
 should be given to any kind of unproven method of self tax, that              
 singles out a certain user group to fund the management of this               
 Number 1710                                                                   
 RAY CAMPBELL, Harvest Diver, testified via teleconference from                
 Ketchikan, that he got cut out of most of the dive fisheries due to           
 the moratorium last year, the reason being that the dive fisheries            
 could not develop without an moratorium to take an assessment.  He            
 stated that since he was in one dive fishery he is going to have to           
 pay for the development of a fishery that he is not involved in.              
 He stated that he opposes the bill.  He stated that he does not               
 like to see four fisheries lumped under one heading, they should be           
 managed individually.                                                         
 Number 1775                                                                   
 SCOTT THOMAS, Member, Southeast Alaska Harvest Divers Association,            
 testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, in support of the                
 bill.  He stated that it would not be his first choice but it is              
 clear from the test fishery last year that there was no money to              
 manage and develop these fisheries.  He stated that this is really            
 the only viable way that the dive fisheries are going to be able to           
 assess, manage and develop these fisheries.  He stated it is                  
 contingent on getting good, active people in the association that             
 want to dedicate there time to develop these fisheries.                       
 Number 1899                                                                   
 RODNEY LINTON, Harvest Diver, testified via teleconference from               
 Ketchikan, in support of the bill.  He stated that it is really               
 imperative that we have proper funding to keep the fishery viable             
 and alive.  He stated that it would enable expansion into the new             
 fisheries that do not exist.  He stated that he is concerned about            
 the cooperative management clause being taken out of the bill and             
 would not support that.                                                       
 Number 1942                                                                   
 LANCE PHILMAN, Member, Southeast Alaska Harvest Divers Association,           
 testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, in support of the                
 Number 1960                                                                   
 RYAN MORIN, Member, Southeast Alaska Harvest Divers Association,              
 testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, in support of the                
 Number 1990                                                                   
 MICHAEL BANGS, President, Harvest Association, Petersburg Chapter,            
 testified via teleconference from Craig, that the association voted           
 unanimously in support of the bill.  He stated that in future it              
 can be cancelled by a vote of all the permit holders if the                   
 assessment is not needed.  He stated that when ADF&G does the                 
 surveys to develop a dive fishery it is a lot more expensive than             
 it is for salmon or any other fishery because of having to dive.              
 He stated that an increase in budget would still not cover the cost           
 and that is why the divers need to play an active part in the co-             
 operative management plan.  He stated that there is no other                  
 Number 2081                                                                   
 JIM DENNIS, Harvest Diver, testified via teleconference from Craig,           
 that he has been diving since 1982.  He stated that he is in                  
 support of the bill because the state does not have the money, it             
 is the only option.                                                           
 Number 2123                                                                   
 BRENT BAXTER, Harvest Diver, testified via teleconference from                
 Craig, in support of the bill.                                                
 Number 2134                                                                   
 DENNIS WATSON, Mayor, City of Craig, testified via teleconference             
 from Craig, in support of the bill.  He stated that there are a lot           
 of economic benefits from the jobs in the dive fishery.                       
 Number 2182                                                                   
 GIG DECKER, Representative, Wrangell Divers Association, stated               
 that the two people in Kodiak who testified that the bill had                 
 discriminatory wording are taking over half of the resource.  Three           
 of the people from Ketchikan that testified were involved in the              
 test fishery that took over 3 million pounds, there was only one              
 company buying, of which he was excluded from.  He stated that he             
 has been a full time commercial fisherman in Alaska for 25 years              
 and a commercial diver for nine years.  He stated that he totally             
 supports the legislation.                                                     
 Number 2239                                                                   
 STEPHEN LACROIX, Norquest Seafood, stated that they have bought and           
 processed over 450,000 pounds of urchins.  He stated that to                  
 demonstrate the support of the divers they currently have a 5 cent            
 a pound voluntary assessment, and so far they have collected                  
 $23,000, the indication is strong diver support.  He stated that              
 this resource allows the company to turn 70 people from being                 
 seasonal help to being full time employees and members of the                 
 community.  He stated for every diver on the water there are                  
 between five or six workers in the plant.                                     
 Number 2320                                                                   
 PETER METCALFE, Representative, Kake Travel Corporation, which owns           
 Kake Fisheries and Pelican Seafoods and employs hundreds of people            
 in seafood processing as well as, processes millions of pounds of             
 seafood a year.  He stated that last winter the corporation                   
 employed over 45 villagers processing sea urchins.  He stated that            
 the corporation supports the intent of the bill, as understood to             
 create a funding mechanism for emerging fisheries.  He stated that            
 the corporation sees a lot of potential in the fisheries and a lot            
 of potential employment opportunities for rural and urban                     
 residents, especially in the winter months.  He stated that the               
 corporation has a strong problem with the dive fishery association            
 being 100 percent divers.  He stated that there should be broader             
 representation on the association and processors have a lot to add            
 to this, it is a cooperative association with divers, as they are             
 in charge of the dive program.  He stated that other gear types               
 should be represented on this association because these emerging              
 fisheries are not necessarily dive fisheries.  He stated that there           
 is the possibility of different harvesting techniques in sea                  
 urchins alone and there is the possibility of the pot fishery.  He            
 stated that their position is one of support in the intent of the             
 bill which is to find a funding mechanism.  He stated that the bill           
 would be very much strengthened if the association were opened up             
 to a broader representation than just permitted to dive fishermen.            
 He stated that to his knowledge there are no commercial divers in             
 Kake and feel that this small community would not be heard in such            
 an association.                                                               
 Number 2439                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if his understanding was correct he was              
 suggesting that the processing industry have representation in the            
 Number 2442                                                                   
 MR. METCALFE replied that the corporation would be supportive of              
 this bill if it was non-exclusive and open to processors.  He                 
 stated that Representative Williams expressed the concern that such           
 an association understand the challenges and dangers of the dive              
 fishery.  If the corporation were to nominate anyone to serve on              
 that dive fishery he would be certain it would be someone who                 
 understood dive fisheries.  He felt that they offer a perspective             
 that it is not represented on the proposed association.                       
 TAPE 97-17, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 CLAY BEZENEK, Southeast Alaska Harvest Divers Association, stated             
 that he has been fishing in Alaska for fifteen years.  He stated              
 that he is in full support of the bill.  The bill gives divers a              
 reliable funding source for all developing fisheries it also gives            
 a direct link for a co-operative working relationship with ADF&G.             
 He stated that the dive fisheries are unique in that the gear used            
 is a human being, resulting in special considerations, which the              
 bill addresses.  It gives the assurance of a funding source for               
 years to come.  He stated that as a commercial salmon fisherman he            
 is completely satisfied with the job our aquaculture associations             
 are doing with their assessment.                                              
 Number 052                                                                    
 AARON CUMMINGS, Representative, Southeast Alaska Harvest Divers               
 Association, Petersburg Chapter, stated that the chapter of 25                
 divers is unanimously in support of the bill.  He stated that every           
 time he has left and returned from participating in various other             
 fisheries as far as the International Dateline, not even 10-15                
 miles away from his home town, he was crossing volumes of product             
 there for harvesting, which has been so undeveloped it has                    
 impossible for him to make a living entirely in that region.  This            
 bill would expand the fishery to a point where it would be                    
 profitable so he would not have to go to waters outside Alaska to             
 Number 128                                                                    
 STEVEN DAUGHERTY, Assistant Attorney General, Natural Resources               
 Section, Department of Law, stated that he is not testifying                  
 because they are any legal problems with the bill but because he              
 was requested to testify on a possible proposed amendment.  He                
 stated that there was some impetus for a provision in the bill that           
 would provide an incentive for instate processing.  He stated that            
 there are some constitutional problems with that.  There is a U.S.            
 Supreme Court case based on an Alaskan processing requirement for             
 timber, that was found to be in violation of the Commerce Clause of           
 the United States.  He stated that there was also a case dating               
 back to 1947, in which South Carolina attempted to require                    
 fisherman to dock at a South Carolina Port, unload, pack and stamp            
 their catch, before transporting it out of state, which was also              
 found to be unconstitutional in violation of the Commerce Clause.             
 Number 214                                                                    
 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Commissioner,                 
 Department of Fish and Game, stated that Alaska underutilized                 
 species like the urchins, offer the opportunity to create new                 
 fisheries the right way, avoiding some of the problems that have              
 plagued the traditional fisheries in their historic development.              
 He stated that the timing of this new opportunity coincides with a            
 time of reduced funding for fisheries management and development.             
 This is what prompted the introduction of this legislation to try             
 an provide a creative mechanism to fund the development of new                
 fisheries.  He stated that there are no new general fund dollars              
 which are the dollars which fund commercial fisheries that are                
 being added to the budget, in fact the House budget proposes to               
 reduce the Department's funding by about $1 million, the Senate a             
 $2.4 million reduction, $1.7 million of that is specifically                  
 targeted at the Commercial Fisheries Management and Development               
 Division.  He stated that this has been going on for five or six              
 years, the money has not been provided by the legislature to manage           
 new fisheries.  He stated that the department does applaud the                
 efforts involved in the bill, however, the bill is narrow in its              
 focus and is directed specifically at the funding issue and does              
 not address the broader policy issues that need to be addressed if            
 these new fisheries are to be sucessful.  He stated that when a               
 fishery is developed it will be a fishery that Alaskans will be the           
 primary beneficiaries of and is sustainable.                                  
 Number 266                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE felt that just the funding issues can not just be focused           
 on, if it is going to be successful in developing these new                   
 fisheries.  He stated that the concerns are that the bill takes a             
 piece meal approach to the new developing fisheries.  He stated               
 that there are a number of species that could be developed, and the           
 mechanism proposed in the bill does not necessary lend itself to              
 the broad range.  He stated that the impetus is coming from the               
 Southeast fishermen but what they develop here to solve their                 
 problems could become a precedent for other parts of the state                
 since it is statewide legislation.                                            
 Number 422                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that there has to be a starting point.              
 He stated that it can be expanded if there are other emergency                
 fisheries that we want to add into the concept.  He asked if the              
 legislature waited for the each fishery to emerge in order to put             
 the whole package together where would we be.                                 
 Number 445                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE replied that it is a good point, buy the legislature                
 should look at a means of developing these fisheries that could be            
 applied in a wide variety of circumstances.  He stated that he is             
 not making the point that we should wait until the fishery comes              
 along in order to develop it.  He stated the point he is making is            
 that we do not want to be so specific and focused that it is not              
 broad enough or flexible enough to deal with other situations.                
 Number 473                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE continued that his comments should be taken as                      
 constructive criticism as the department is trying to look at it              
 from a policy standpoint to make sure it is going in the right                
 direction.   He stated that in the urchin fishery there is the                
 characteristic that a lot of the product is being processed out of            
 state.  There may be incentives that can be created to keep the               
 industry in Alaska.                                                           
 Number 558                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE stated that it was the department's view that all of the            
 stake holders effected by this fishery should be in this                      
 association, not just the divers.  He stated that the sponsor has             
 included a representative of the processing sector and a                      
 representative of the local government, which has resolved that               
 concern.  He stated that the private sector should not manage the             
 public resource itself and it is best done through dialogue between           
 the two groups but when, where, how large quota is, should be made            
 by people who don't have a vested interest in the industry.  He               
 stated that this change was also made and that the sponsor is                 
 willing to work on the other issues in the next committee.                    
 Number 661                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE stated that the department is committed to sound                    
 development of the state's fisheries resources that provide a                 
 maximum benefit to Alaskans and is going to launch a major effort             
 to work with all involved to lay out various options that could be            
 used to develop the underutilized species in a way that considers             
 the board range of policy issues that we think are important.  He             
 stated that they are committed to maintaining the urchin fishery              
 and seeing that the fishery goes on and has some level of                     
 operational funds to support its management.                                  
 Number 748                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE stated that even though this is a self assessment tax               
 that fisherman are placing on themselves, it will go into the pot             
 of money and the legislature will determine whether or not that               
 money comes back into the department.  He stated that there is no             
 guarantee, outside of the appropriation process, that the                     
 department will ever see a dime of the money.  He stated that if              
 the general fund for the department is capped or decreases, the               
 general fund includes program receipts which would be this category           
 of money.  He stated that if there is $250,000 in general fund                
 program receipts associated with the urchin fishery, paid by the              
 fisherman, and the legislation places a cap, the department would             
 have to find $250,000 worth of cuts in order to stay within the               
 cap.  Therefore other fisheries would receive reduced funding in              
 order to fund the other option.  He stated that a solution would be           
 the Governor's bill which would create a new category of funding              
 called a designated program receipt, which would be made up of                
 money contributed for specific programs in government and would not           
 be considered as part of the general fund appropriation.  He stated           
 that if the legislature decided to cut the department's general               
 fund it leaves the designated program receipt category to rise and            
 would allow it to fund the programs.  He stated he would like to              
 encourage the supporters of this legislation to get behind the                
 bill, to enable the funds to go to the fisheries that it was                  
 intended to manage.  He stated that if over time this is proven to            
 not be the best way to manage the fishery, the issue can be                   
 Number 933                                                                    
 MR. BRUCE stated that both the legislative research agency and the            
 Department of Fish and Game have conducted studies looking at the             
 revenues and expenditures that come to the state's treasury from              
 fish and wildlife users and the expenditures made by state                    
 government on fish wild life activities, whether it is management,            
 law enforcement or development activities.  It was found that the             
 seafood industry contributes more money to the state treasury than            
 what is spent by the state government on the seafood industry which           
 has been especially true with the addition of the landing tax.  He            
 stated that in 1996 the fisheries business tax was about $40                  
 million, the other contributions made by the industry totaled about           
 $60 million, the fishery management general fund expenditures made            
 to the Department of Fish and Game was $20 million.  He stated that           
 there is money being contributed by the seafood industry to pay for           
 the management of the state fisheries, the problem is that the                
 money is not appropriated to do the job, it is going to other                 
 Number 1063                                                                   
 GEORGE ELIASON, testified via teleconference from Sitka, that he is           
 here representing himself, two other divers and his two sons.  He             
 stated that they all in are support of the bill.  He stated that              
 they do not see another means to create the development of the dive           
 fisheries being that there are no funds available.  He stated that            
 the dive seasons have been extremely short.  He stated that passage           
 of the bill will create a long term viable and orderly dive fishery           
 for today's divers and for future generations.                                
 Number 1128                                                                   
 NANCY HILLSTRAND, Owner, Pioneer Alaskan Fisheries and Coal Point             
 Trading Company, testified via teleconference from Homer, that she            
 supports the bill.  She stated that the Department of Fish and Game           
 does not have the money to gather data on new and emerging                    
 fisheries and without this data, management is lacking deeply.  She           
 gave the example of the sea cucumber fishery in Kachemak Bay that             
 was opened with very little information to do so and the species is           
 closed from over harvest.  Securing funding to gather information             
 is of the utmost importance and will protect the sustained yield              
 principle on these species by understanding these species more                
 fully.  She felt that it might need to be amended to a broader                
 representation to assure all the user groups are included in the              
 fishery, not just the divers.                                                 
 Number 1195                                                                   
 UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER, testifying via teleconference from                 
 Craig, stated that there are six individuals who did not want to              
 testify, but did want to add their support to the bill.                       
 Number 1229                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS made a motion to move CSHB 198(FSH), 0-                
 LS0415, Version T, with individual recommendations and the attached           
 fiscal note.                                                                  
 Number 1238                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there were any objections.  Hearing               
 none CSHB 198(FSH), Version T was moved out of the House Special              
 Committee on Fisheries.                                                       
 Number 1276                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN called for a brief at ease at 6:21.                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects