Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/11/1998 05:04 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 423 - ACCESS FISHERY TRUST/LIC. PERMIT SURCHARGE                            
Number 0038                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that due to the sponsors's time                      
constraints he will hear an introduction to HB 423 and then table              
it and hear the other items on the agenda.  He stated that HB 423              
is "An Act relating to the Alaska access fishery trust, purchase of            
commercial fisheries permits, vessels, gear, equipment, and leases             
by the Department of Fish and Game, sport fishing license                      
surcharge, and the entry permit surcharge; and providing for an                
effective date."                                                               
Number 0113                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER stated that he introduced HB 423 at the            
request of the Board of Fisheries, due to the conflict in relation             
to the harvest of fish and because of the potential solution that              
buy-backs can provide.  House Bill 423 sets up a funding mechanism             
to do so.  He said, "The substance of the bill that pertains to the            
actual operations of a buy-back, as you will hear in testimony                 
later, they don't work and that is not the purpose of the bill."               
He explained that it was important to get a framework established              
to bring the affected parties to the table to work out a buy-back              
program that does work.                                                        
Number 0296                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked Mr. Coffey if he would see a need for this            
MR. DAN COFFEY, Vice-Chairman, Board of Fisheries, said "Yes, Mr.              
Chairman. Basically what lead us to this was, we have had                      
discussions, over the two plus years that I've have been on the                
board, with members of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission               
and of course we see the issues in the winter time, when we are in             
cycle, we see monthly the kind of battles that result from the                 
circumstances in which our fisheries currently find themselves,                
which is a combination of -- some instances reducing availability              
of resources but in more instances just the overcapitalization and             
the efficiencies of our fishing fleets.  The gear is better, the               
positioning is better, the boats are better, all the equipment is              
better and that has made our fishermen much more efficient at their            
jobs.  And as a result we find shorter seasons, less opportunity on            
all the allocation battles that go on between not only different               
types users, sport, commercial and so on, but also within the                  
commercial industries between the various different gear types,                
those allocation battles become as sacrimonious and as divisive as             
any between different types of users.  So, we needed -- we wanted              
to express to the legislature was some of our frustration and to               
express the hope that in some manner the legislature would be able             
to deal with this.  We know it is a very intractable problem, Mr.              
Chairman, because of our discussions with Commercial Fisheries                 
Entry Commission and the problems intended on any such buy-back and            
when we heard of the possibility of a funding mechanism being                  
established we wanted to lend our support because we think the                 
problem is significant enough that it needs to be addressed by the             
legislature.  As to any particular solution the Board of Fisheries             
had no -- has no agenda in terms of do this don't do that -- its               
just that we very much have to face the problem consistently and               
regularly and we were hoping that the legislature could find a                 
solution to this problem.  Mr. Chairman, thank-you."                           
Number 0469                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if he had any thoughts if the legislation             
should look at this as a statewide proposal or should the                      
legislature look at this on a region to region basis.                          
Number 0500                                                                    
MR. COFFEY replied "Well -- when the board discussed it, it was --             
Mr. Chairman, the discussion was generally that it would be                    
statewide because although there are some fisheries in our state               
which are not necessarily overcapitalized, the vast majority of                
them are and so we felt it would be more appropriate to be                     
statewide.  But there's -- the flip side of the coin could be,                 
there's some that are more overcapitalized and more intensive than             
others and so it might be appropriate, after the plan and the                  
funding mechanisms are established, to maybe focus on this area and            
not another area because of the matter of degree of                            
Number 0535                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated the burning issue is the Cook Inlet issue            
and asked if the Board of Fisheries would be receptive if this                 
ended up to be just a Cook Inlet issue that the legislature tried              
to resolve.                                                                    
DAN COFFEY replied, "That -- you are correct when you say it is a              
burning issue.  I mean that's where the biggest conflicts exist                
between sport and commercial users and to the extent that the                  
endeavor of-- the goal of buy-back would be to resolve disputes                
between sport and commercial users and that would be an appropriate            
place to start. To that degree, yes, that would certainly be                   
helpful to the board. Ya, I agree with that."                                  
Number 0595                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if he visualized this as more of an                   
overcapitalization of the fleet in reference to commercial fishing             
or if it is more of an issue of overcapitalization in reference to             
allocation between the sport fish industry and commercial fishing              
industry.  For example, the bill had an allocation of the sportfish            
licence of $1 plus the 5 percent of the commercial fishing fees,               
which indicates that sportfish is involved in this.  He asked if it            
was the Board of Fisheries intention, whether this is an                       
overcapitalization of the commercial fishing industry issue or is              
it a sportfishing versus commercial fishing issue that they are                
trying to resolve.                                                             
Number 0638                                                                    
MR. COFFEY replied "No, I think the main and thrust of it was that             
it is a commercial fisheries issue and the rub point, resulting                
from it are found at not only the commercial levels and the                    
allocation battles between commercial users but also at the level              
of where the sport and commercial interests conflict.  And that of             
course, is you have properly identified, is to the greatest degree             
found in Cook Inlet, that is were most of the sport fishermen                  
(Indisc.--paper shuffling).  So I view it as, from the board's                 
perspective, my understanding Mr. Chairman, from the debate, of the            
boards perspective, that we were viewing it from the fact that the             
commercial fishing industry has become more and more efficient and             
in that sense overcapitalized and to some degree the number of                 
limited entry permits that were issued at the time were probably               
greater than the fisheries could handle.  We talked about problems             
like when a family that used to fish one permit went in to apply               
for it, Mom got a permit, Dad got a permit, and all three kids got             
a permit.  So where before you used to have one, now you've got                
five.  And things like in -- we've talked about in area M, where it            
used to be that a one fishing family would have a seine permit and             
a drift permit and a setnet permit and that's cause they fished                
different fish at different times of the year.  And then they sold             
off their permits one at a time and kept the one they wanted to                
fish and you compound that with the fact that Mom, Pop and the kids            
all got a limited entry permit and then you compound it that the               
same permit that they had in the 50's and 60's was a beach seine               
permit and now its a power seine permit and instead of having a                
boat that could go out only in good weather they've got a boat that            
you know is 58 feet and can fish year round and so on and so on.               
So that's the discussion we had about the overcapitalization, Mr.              
Number 0771                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that he was going to table HB 423.                   
HB 423 - ACCESS FISHERY TRUST/LIC. PERMIT SURCHARGE                            
Number 1816                                                                    
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that he would take up HB 423 again.                  
Number 1829                                                                    
CHRIS BERNS testified via teleconference from Kodiak that there are            
a lot of problems with the bill but the basis to have a fund for               
a buy-back should be investigated and he supports that.                        
CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN stated that HB 423 will be held over.                       

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