Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/25/2004 08:37 AM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 36-MITIGATING GLACIER BAY FISHING CLOSURES                                                                                
Number 0084                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON announced that the first order  of business would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT  RESOLUTION NO.  [36], Requesting  the National  Park                                                               
Service to  mitigate the adverse  economic effects of  commercial                                                               
fishing closures  and restrictions in  Glacier Bay National  Park                                                               
and Preserve.                                                                                                                   
Number 0125                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   BRUCE  WEYHRAUCH,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
sponsor, explained  that HJR 36  requests that the National  Park                                                               
Service (NPS) consider  those who've been negatively  affected by                                                               
Glacier  Bay  National  Park  and   Preserve  commercial  fishing                                                               
closures for  work that the  NPS contracts for.   He said in  the                                                               
late 1990s the  NPS and other groups persuaded Congress  to close                                                               
portions of Glacier Bay National Park  and Preserve to commercial                                                               
fishing  and to  further restrict  other  areas where  commercial                                                               
fishing could continue.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH referred  to a  map  to illustrate  the                                                               
boundaries of  Glacier Bay National Park  and Preserve.  He  said                                                               
fishermen had  been fishing  there for generations,  particularly                                                               
fishermen from Hoonah,  because the area is a beautiful  place to                                                               
fish, it is  quiet, there aren't a  lot of people around,  and it                                                               
is  "the  perfect  Alaska setting."    Nearby  fisheries  include                                                               
halibut, salmon,  and tanner  crab; a  Dungeness crab fishery  is                                                               
presently closed.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  informed members  that in  conjunction,                                                               
the NPS  implemented a program  whereby lifetime fishing  permits                                                               
were given to fishermen who could show  recent history of fishing                                                               
in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.   When those fishermen                                                               
die, commercial fishing there will be phased out.                                                                               
Number 0319                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH provided  that  the federal  government                                                               
appropriated  $23  million  under  a  compensation   plan  to  be                                                               
implemented  by  the  NPS  to  compensate   those  who  had  been                                                               
negatively impacted by the closures in  Glacier Bay National Park                                                               
and  Preserve.    He  said  boat   owners,  crewmembers,  support                                                               
businesses,  communities,  and  others  that  could  prove  their                                                               
dependence on commercial fishing were able  to request funds from                                                               
this appropriation.   The NPS has already paid out  those claims,                                                               
although some claims are pending because  of litigation; however,                                                               
he said some fishermen who'd applied to lease  boats from the NPS                                                               
for maintenance,  research, and  transport have had  a hard  time                                                               
working with the NPS.                                                                                                           
Number 0430                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH noted  that Dan  Foley  had planned  to                                                               
testify,   but   was   fishing   and   unable   to   participate.                                                               
Representative Weyhrauch said  Mr. Foley was  negatively affected                                                               
by  the  recent changes  in  commercial  fishing in  Glacier  Bay                                                               
National Park and  Preserve and has tried  to work with  the NPS;                                                               
he wasn't  compensated for his  losses and felt the  compensation                                                               
plan didn't adequately  fund the broad scope of the  total losses                                                               
by commercial fishermen and the affected businesses.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH used Mr. Foley as an  example as for his                                                               
reasoning behind HJR 36, saying he feels  the NPS should strongly                                                               
consider   those  people   directly   affected  by   the   recent                                                               
prohibitions and  restrictions in Glacier  Bay National Park  and                                                               
Preserve when contracting  for, purchasing, or leasing   vessels,                                                               
equipment, materials, lodging, and services.                                                                                    
Number 0526                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON,  upon determining  that no  one wished to  testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  inquired what  businesses the NPS  was                                                               
currently dealing  with, instead of  those that were affected  by                                                               
the recent changes.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  said  he  wasn't   sure  exactly  what                                                               
processes the NPS has  to determine who it does business  with or                                                               
how it does business.   He added that he doesn't want  to propose                                                               
legislation to  force the  NPS to  consider Alaskan residents  or                                                               
businesses first.   He  emphasized that  HJR 36 asks  the NPS  to                                                               
prioritize those  businesses and  people affected  by the  recent                                                               
loss of  commercial fishing rights  in Glacier Bay National  Park                                                               
and   Preserve  over   other   options  when   contracting   for,                                                               
purchasing, or  leasing  vessels, equipment,  materials, lodging,                                                               
and services.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH surmised that the NPS  would probably be                                                               
open to  people from  all over  the world in  the procurement  of                                                               
those  goods and  services, and  that it  would want  to get  the                                                               
"best bang  for their  buck."   He said  that with HJR  36 he  is                                                               
asking the  legislature to  lobby on  behalf of those  negatively                                                               
affected [by  the recent  changes], and  is making it  more of  a                                                               
formal process whereby those people would be considered first.                                                                  
Number 0679                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  SEATON, referring  to  page 2,  line  19, noted  that  the                                                               
resolution called for preference towards those  affected, but not                                                               
a specific preference; he pointed out  that the resolution didn't                                                               
request a percentage of funds or bids.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  responded that  including  a  specific                                                               
request  like  that  would  enter  a   "morass"  that  he  didn't                                                               
understand nor really want to.  He said  that, as a policy issue,                                                               
he feels the legislature can say [to the NPS] the following:                                                                    
     We appreciate that there has been  payment.  But future                                                                    
     impacts  may  not be  considered  in  the  compensation                                                                    
     program you've  implemented.   So, please, when  you're                                                                    
     considering  those who  may  offer services,  ...  look                                                                    
     first at those who have been  negatively affected.  Can                                                                    
     they meet  your needs?  Give  a preference to  those by                                                                    
     looking  at them  first and  [giving] consideration  of                                                                    
     their sales and  services.  And if they can't,  go meet                                                                    
     your business objectives as a manager.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH added  that the foregoing is  his intent                                                               
with HJR 36.                                                                                                                    
Number 0807                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG said  he  thought HJR  36 was  a  good                                                               
resolution;  his only  concern  was how  this may  displace  some                                                               
businesses  and  fishermen  who'd  had  the  foresight  to  leave                                                               
Glacier Bay National  Park and Preserve before the  closures were                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  agreed that  people  left  before  the                                                               
closures;  he referred  to  a man  who'd  moved to  Wrangell  and                                                               
opened  up  a  charter  business  because  he  knew  Glacier  Bay                                                               
National  Park  and  Preserve would  be  closing  its  commercial                                                               
fishing sites.   Representative Weyhrauch  said he believes  that                                                               
this man, as well  as any other person or business that  had been                                                               
negatively  affected by  the closures,  should  receive the  same                                                               
preference that is asked for in HJR 36.                                                                                         
Number 0925                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON commented  that the intent of  HJR 36 is clear.   He                                                               
reiterated that the  resolution was just asking for  a preference                                                               
to be given  to those people and vessels that could  prove useful                                                               
to the NPS and that have been affected  by the recent closures of                                                               
commercial fishing sites.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH added  that he wouldn't deny  that waste                                                               
and  inefficiency have  occurred within  the federal  government,                                                               
and that  he felt if the  NPS was going to  hire people or  buy a                                                               
bunch  of  gear,  it  should  do  so  from  [the  businesses  and                                                               
fishermen  that  were  negatively  affected  by  the  closure  of                                                               
commercial  fishing  sites  in  Glacier  Bay  National  Park  and                                                               
Number 0983                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG moved  to report HJR 36 out of  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  remarked that he  supports HJR 36 and  thinks                                                               
it's a good resolution.                                                                                                         
CHAIR SEATON asked  if there was  any objection.  There  being no                                                               
objection, HJR 36  was reported from the House  Special Committee                                                               
on Fisheries.                                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects