Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

03/09/2005 08:30 AM FISHERIES


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 15 OPEN OCEAN AQUACULTURE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 15(FSH) Out of Committee
*+ HB 192 FISHERIES BUSINESS LICENSE; BOND TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ "An Act relating to cost recovery TELECONFERENCED
fisheries for private nonprofit
hatchery facilities"
<Pending introduction and referral>
Scheduled But Not Heard
HJR 15-OPEN OCEAN AQUACULTURE                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:39:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR THOMAS announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO. 15,  "Relating  to  open  ocean                                                               
aquaculture in the federal exclusive economic zone."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:39:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute for  HJR 15,  labeled 24-LS0631\F,  Utermohle, 3/8/05,                                                               
as the  working document.   There being  no objection,  Version F                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:40:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
IAN  FISK,  Staff to  Representative  Bill  Thomas, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  speaking  as  the  committee  aide  for  the  House                                                               
Special  Committee  on  Fisheries,   presented  HJR  15  and  the                                                               
proposed CS.   He pointed  out that the  CS has a  few additional                                                               
lines  on page  1,  lines 15-16,  regarding genetically  modified                                                               
fish that read:                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     WHEREAS  there are  patents  pending  to cultivate  and                                                                    
     introduce  genetically modified  fish into  open waters                                                                    
     which  will   pose  a  direct  threat   to  wild  stock                                                                    
     fisheries                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK  also noted  that the  CS has  an additional  resolve on                                                               
page 2, lines 27-20:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     FURTHER  REOLVED  that  the  Alaska  State  Legislature                                                                    
     respectfully  urges Congress  to prohibit  the issuance                                                                    
     of any  license to permit an  aquaculture facility that                                                                    
     imports,  exports,  possesses,   cultivates,  sells  or                                                                    
     otherwise  handles  genetically  modified fish  in  the                                                                    
     federal exclusive  economic zone or has  access to open                                                                    
     waters                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:41:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK  explained that  HJR 15 is  in reference  to legislation                                                               
that  is  being developed  by  the  U.S. Department  of  Commerce                                                               
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  He commented:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Alaskans  have  many  legitimate  concerns  about  this                                                                    
     concept,  especially in  light of  our experience  with                                                                    
     farmed salmon  and what  that has  done to  our economy                                                                    
     and   communities....  Some   of  these   concerns  are                                                                    
     environmental   in  nature,   for  instance:   disease-                                                                    
     transmission; damage  to the environment due  to anoxic                                                                    
     conditions that  are created  by overfeeding  in salmon                                                                    
     farms; concern about the  health ramifications to those                                                                    
     ... consumers  who choose to  eat farmed fish;  and, of                                                                    
     course,   escape  into   the  natural   environment  of                                                                    
     nonnative  species like  Atlantic salmon.   To  address                                                                    
     these  concerns,  this   resolution  asks  Congress  to                                                                    
     require  an  Environmental  Impact  Statement  for  any                                                                    
     proposal   to  license   an   open  ocean   aquaculture                                                                    
     operation.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:42:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK  pointed out that  there are healthy  existing fisheries                                                               
in  the exclusive  economic zone  that have  been developed  over                                                               
decades such as the halibut  and sablefish industries, which have                                                               
been soundly managed for  biological and economic sustainability.                                                               
"People  are  very  concerned  that  the  advent  of  open  ocean                                                               
aquaculture  is  going  to  change  the  nature  of  the  seafood                                                               
business, and  we need to  know how this  is going to  affect our                                                               
communities and  their economies,"  he said, "so  this resolution                                                               
expresses   the   legislature's   commitment  that   open   ocean                                                               
aquaculture  do   no  harm   to  our   environment  and   to  our                                                               
communities."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISK  reminded  the committee  that  the  state  legislature                                                               
enacted a  prohibition on  finfish farming in  1990, and  now the                                                               
state fishing  industry is starting  to see the benefits  of that                                                               
because "we've  differentiated ourselves in the  market; Alaska's                                                               
name is associated with natural,  wild products."  He opined that                                                               
if fish  were being farmed  offshore of Alaska, it  would confuse                                                               
the  market  place  and  damage   some  of  the  recent  industry                                                               
progress.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:44:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK continued:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Rumor  has it  that  this draft  legislation from  [the                                                                    
     U.S.] Department  of Commerce  is not going  to include                                                                    
     the [North  Pacific Fishery Management Council]  in the                                                                    
     process  of approving  permits.... It's  important that                                                                    
     we make a statement that  the council be involved since                                                                    
     they  manage all  the other  fisheries in  the Gulf  of                                                                    
     Alaska that are important to us.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:45:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS  noted  that  United  Fisherman  of  Alaska  had                                                               
submitted a letter of support for HJR 15.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL  SEATON, Alaska  State Legislature,  asked if                                                               
the language on page 2, lines 27-30, referred to live fish.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK responded that it refers to genetically modified fish.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified,  "I want to make  sure that what                                                               
we're talking about  is live fish or live animals,  and we're not                                                               
getting  too  much  into the  import/export  business,  ...  [or]                                                               
something that's being used for feed."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON pointed  out the language on  page 1, lines                                                               
15-16, regarding genetically modified fish.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISK stated,  "The language  about import  and export  is in                                                               
reference  to  the  idea  of people  bringing  in  a  genetically                                                               
modified  organism   and  introducing  it  for   the  purpose  of                                                               
cultivating it in the waters of the exclusive economic zone."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:48:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS asked  Mr. Fisk what kind  of escapement is                                                               
coming  from  fish  farms  in  Washington  and  British  Columbia                                                               
(B.C.).                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISK replied  that he did not have any  numbers, but he noted                                                               
that salmon have  escaped from farms in B.C. and  have been found                                                               
in  Alaska streams  as  far west  as the  Alaska  Peninsula.   He                                                               
remarked  that in  the case  of  open ocean  aquaculture, no  one                                                               
knows what  different species might  be proposed to  be developed                                                               
in local waters.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:49:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS  asked  if   there  was  any  evidence  of                                                               
diseases introducing into Alaska by the fish farms.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISK  replied  that  he   was  not  aware  of  any  diseases                                                               
transmitted  from farmed  fish into  Alaska  wild salmon  stocks.                                                               
However,  he said,  there have  been documented  cases where  the                                                               
infectious hematopoietic neocrosis (IHN)  virus and sea lice have                                                               
been transmitted to wild fish stocks on the B.C. coast.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  commented that her neighbor,  a fisherman,                                                               
caught  [an  escaped  farm  fish] that  was  very  unhealthy  and                                                               
covered with sea lice.  She  remarked that it could devastate the                                                               
entire fishing  industry if  [the farmed  fish infected  the wild                                                               
stocks].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:51:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIC  JORDAN  stated  that  he is  a  lifelong  Southeast  Alaska                                                               
resident and  a salmon troller.   He  mentioned that he  has also                                                               
been involved with  the Alaska Marine Conservation  Council as an                                                               
outreach coordinator  regarding salmon farming and  its potential                                                               
effect on ecosystems.  He stated:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     It's  my  opinion  that   open  ocean  aquaculture  ...                                                                    
     presents a  real threat  to the  health of  our fishing                                                                    
     industry  in Alaska  because we  are seeing  increasing                                                                    
     problems with ... the fish  farming industry around the                                                                    
     world    associated    with   disease,    environmental                                                                    
     pollution, escapes, and effects  on our wild resources.                                                                    
     My position  is ... that the  Alaska legislature should                                                                    
     notify  the  U.S.  Congress and  others  of  our  grave                                                                    
     concern about opening up  federal waters to aquaculture                                                                    
     development,  especially  finfish aquaculture  off  the                                                                    
     coast of Alaska.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. JORDAN  noted that  he and  two other men  were in  Juneau to                                                               
meet  with   legislators  on  behalf   of  the   Alaska  Trollers                                                               
Association.   He expressed appreciation  to the  legislature for                                                               
the work it does for the fishing industry.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:55:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked Mr. Jordan  if he was also testifying                                                               
on shellfish, such as oysters and clams.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. JORDAN replied  that he was not testifying on  shellfish.  He                                                               
commented that  there are successful  oyster farms in  Alaska and                                                               
he had  not heard  of any  big environmental  problems associated                                                               
with  those.   He mentioned  that  his friend  runs a  successful                                                               
scallop and oyster  farm in Port Althorp.  He  clarified that his                                                               
testimony specifically in opposition to finfish farming.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:56:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HERMAN  FANDEL  testified  that  due  to  the  increasing  global                                                               
population, it  will become  necessary to  farm the  oceans "just                                                               
like we farm the lands of the world today."  He opined:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Today  more  fish  are needed  for  commercial  fishing                                                                    
     industry,    sport     fishing    industry,    tourism,                                                                    
     subsistance, and so on.  We  need more fish to feed the                                                                    
     world and the open  ocean aquaculture program certainly                                                                    
     will give us more fish.   It seems to me that we'd look                                                                    
     very foolish  today if our  forefathers decided  not to                                                                    
     farm the fertile farmlands in  our country.  And we may                                                                    
     look more foolish  in the future if we  decide today to                                                                    
     not farm the  endless oceans.  It is  important that we                                                                    
     get started now  so that the rest of  the world doesn't                                                                    
     leave us  behind.  Open  ocean aquaculture, I  feel, is                                                                    
     the  "wave  of  the  future."   To  oppose  open  ocean                                                                    
     aquaculture is  like some people ...  opposing drilling                                                                    
     for  oil  in  [the   Arctic  National  Wildlife  Refuge                                                                    
     (ANWR)].    We  should  not  let  fear  stop  progress.                                                                    
     Alaska's  wild stocks  cannot feed  the  world, and  we                                                                    
     should not  expect that  a shortage  of fish  will make                                                                    
     the  prices of  fish go  up.   Somewhere along  the way                                                                    
     we're going  to have to  have more fish, and  we've got                                                                    
     some big  fields out there that  we can farm and  get a                                                                    
     lot more  fish.  It's  coming; we might as  well adjust                                                                    
     our thinking to  it and join in with it.   I think it's                                                                    
     to our advantage to start; the sooner, the better.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:59:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
IRENE FANDEL pointed out that NMFS was promoting legislation to                                                                 
permit open ocean aquaculture in federal waters.  She commented:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Global   marketing  is   consistantly  increasing   and                                                                    
     demanding  seafood products.    Opening aquaculture  in                                                                    
     federal   waters   could   and  would   increase   [the                                                                    
     economies] of Alaska  coastal communities and subsidize                                                                    
     their  fishing season.  ... A  five-year moratorium  on                                                                    
     all permitting,  leasing, or development of  ocean pen-                                                                    
     raised shellfish and finfish  in the federal waters off                                                                    
     of  Alaska  will  just  set  Alaska  fisherman  further                                                                    
     behind in  the development  of ocean aquaculture.   The                                                                    
     social  and  economic   well-being  of  Alaska  coastal                                                                    
     communities  could  get a  boost  by  engaging in  open                                                                    
     ocean  aquaculture.    If there  are  problems  in  the                                                                    
     present process  of aquaculture  fisheries, I  urge you                                                                    
     to gather and work to  solve these problems rather than                                                                    
     to try to  stop it. Again, the population  of our earth                                                                    
     is  such that  we  need  to find  ways  of feeding  our                                                                    
     people  without   depleting  the  fish  stock   in  our                                                                    
     wonderful oceans.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:01:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR THOMAS closed public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:01:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS moved to report CSHJR 15, labeled 24-                                                                     
LS0631\F, Utermohle, 3/8/05, out of committee with individual                                                                   
recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal notes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON objected for discussion purposes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  pointed out that the  resolution refers to                                                               
aquaculture,  which  includes  filter-feeding shellfish  such  as                                                               
oysters  and mussels.    He  commented that  he  agreed with  the                                                               
concept of not  farming predatory shellfish such  as lobsters and                                                               
crab,  but  "I'm not  sure  that  the  same conditions  apply  to                                                               
oysters, clams, and mussels."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:03:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY  McCUNE, Lobbyist  for United  Fisherman  of Alaska  (UFA),                                                               
explained that the NMFS legislation  lumps everything together as                                                               
"aquaculture", whether it's shellfish or  not.  He commented that                                                               
the  federal legislation  will be  better understood  once it  is                                                               
completely  drafted,  and  that  if  the  North  Pacific  Fishery                                                               
Management  Council is  involved, then  there would  be room  for                                                               
[limited  shellfish  farming].    He said,  "We're  not  opposing                                                               
shellfish, but  we're not  saying right now  openly until  we get                                                               
something  that we  can really  get our  hands around  and really                                                               
tackle."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:05:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAULA  TERREL, Alaska  Marine Conservation  Council, agreed  with                                                               
Mr. McCune,  and she  noted that farming  shrimp, which  are also                                                               
considered  shellfish, could  have  a big  impact  on the  Alaska                                                               
shrimp  fishermen.   She  commented  that  some states  are  very                                                               
concerned about  shrimp farming because  of what has  happened to                                                               
their markets.   She said of the resolution,  "It's broad because                                                               
the legislation is  broad.  In other places  they use aquaculture                                                               
in a totally different way than we do here."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. McCUNE opined that each state  should have some say over what                                                               
happens off its shores.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:06:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON commented that he  had wanted to get a feel                                                               
for  how the  committee  felt about  including  shellfish in  the                                                               
resolution.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON removed her objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. TERREL emphasized  the need to keep the  resolution broad for                                                               
now.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:07:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, CSHJR  15(FSH) was moved from the House                                                               
Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                

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