Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/10/2010 09:00 AM FISHERIES

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09:14:16 AM Start
09:14:46 AM HB266
10:02:05 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Failed To Move Out Of Committee
              HB 266-PERSONAL USE FISHING PRIORITY                                                                          
CHAIR EDGMON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  266,  "An Act  providing for  a  priority for  a                                                               
fishery   that   is   restricted  to   residents   when   fishing                                                               
restrictions are implemented to achieve an escapement goal."                                                                    
9:14:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON  recalled Representative  Keller moved CSHB  266 for                                                               
adoption at  the meeting of  3/29/10, and the chair  objected for                                                               
the purpose  of discussion.   Chair Edgmon removed  his objection                                                               
and, there  being no further  objection, CSHB 266 was  before the                                                               
9:15:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON  informed members of  the public that  the committee                                                               
would be unable  to hear testimony by phone until  the arrival of                                                               
Legislative  Information  Office  (LIO) personnel  to  facilitate                                                               
teleconferenced testimony.                                                                                                      
9:15:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH noted  there was opposition to  the bill from                                                               
a variety  of sources.  He  asked whether the sponsor  would like                                                               
to respond to the opposition.                                                                                                   
9:16:21 AM                                                                                                                    
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff to Representative  Bill Stoltze, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, remarked:                                                                                                          
     Regarding the  opposition, in large part  I believe the                                                                    
     sponsor, I  mean this is more  of a policy call  on how                                                                    
     you would  prioritize, you  know, the  fisheries within                                                                    
     Alaska  who, in  times  of shortage,  who  would get  a                                                                    
     priority.  And  I understand that by  doing this change                                                                    
     it  would   ...  it  changes   how  things   would  go.                                                                    
     Obviously,  that  would  upset  people.    But  I  know                                                                    
     Representative  Stoltze feels  that  having, you  know,                                                                    
     the ability  for Alaskans  to go  out and  access their                                                                    
     resources for consumption is  important, and that's why                                                                    
     he brought the bill forward.                                                                                               
9:17:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  observed that  a reallocation, such  as this                                                               
bill brings, invites  litigation.  He opined  the proposed change                                                               
may  result in  a burdensome  court case,  and asked  whether the                                                               
costs of defending the state could be offset.                                                                                   
9:18:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MULLIGAN  said he  was unsure  at this  time, but  could look                                                               
into the possibility.                                                                                                           
9:18:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  asked whether the Board  of Fisheries (BOF)                                                               
has the authority to allocate to a certain user group.                                                                          
9:18:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MULLIGAN said, "I believe  so, but ... Representative Stoltze                                                               
believes that this  was worthy of giving it a  priority and so he                                                               
brought the bill forward to clarify that as, as an importance."                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ surmised that currently  the BOF can look at                                                               
all personal use,  sport, and commercial use, and by  law has the                                                               
flexibility to  allocate accordingly, but the  bill would require                                                               
the BOF to consider a certain priority over another.                                                                            
MR. MULLIGAN said yes.                                                                                                          
9:19:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES  SWANTON,  Director,  Division   of  Sport  Fish,  Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Fish  &  Game (ADF&G),  in  further  response  to                                                               
Representative Munoz,  said there  is a priority  for subsistence                                                               
in times of  shortage, and "all other uses are  on equal footing,                                                               
with regards to allocation, and  the Board of Fisheries does have                                                               
the current authority to allocate amongst those various uses."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ asked,  "After subsistence,  can they,  can                                                               
they prioritize amongst  those three user groups, or  not, it has                                                               
to be done  equally?  I mean, do they  have flexibility currently                                                               
or not?"                                                                                                                        
9:20:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SWANTON   expressed  his  belief   that  the  BOF   has  the                                                               
9:20:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT   asked  whether  this  issue   has  been                                                               
previously discussed by the BOF,  and followed by recommendations                                                               
or rulings on personal use.                                                                                                     
9:21:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SWANTON  advised he does  not have personal knowledge  of BOF                                                               
discussion on this issue; however,  around the state, for some of                                                               
the larger personal use fisheries,  BOF has set allocations.  For                                                               
example, allocations have  been set for the  Copper River fishery                                                               
and the personal use fishery in Chitna.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT further  asked  whether the  BOF set  the                                                               
personal  use allocations,  or if  the allocations  were done  by                                                               
MR.  SWANTON said  "The Board  of Fisheries,  that's under  their                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT confirmed that  the decisions for personal                                                               
use for  Chitna and Copper  River were  done through the  BOF and                                                               
not legislatively.                                                                                                              
MR. SWANTON concurred.                                                                                                          
9:22:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON asked  how many personal use  fisheries exist across                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
MR. SWANTON responded  that there are a large  number of personal                                                               
use fisheries, and he estimated there may be 80.                                                                                
9:23:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON  stated that  one of the  concerning aspects  of the                                                               
legislation is that the bill would  task the BOF with reviewing a                                                               
great  number  of  fisheries, perhaps  writing  management  plans                                                               
giving  personal  use  fisheries  a higher  status,  and  placing                                                               
restrictions  on  the other  fisheries.    Although the  dip  net                                                               
fisheries are the most contentious  and their number is small, he                                                               
noted the  absence of a fiscal  note that measures the  impact of                                                               
the bill to the BOF.                                                                                                            
9:24:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SWANTON said the chair's assessment is "right on the money."                                                                
9:24:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON announced the arrival of LIO personnel.                                                                            
9:25:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked the director  for his prediction of the                                                               
effects of the bill's passage.                                                                                                  
9:25:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SWANTON assured  the committee  that the  BOF would  need to                                                               
take a  conservative look  at some of  the larger  fisheries, and                                                               
their current management  plans, and review them in  light of the                                                               
priority use.  He refrained from further speculation.                                                                           
9:26:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  said, "This looks like  a total re-vampment,                                                               
of a, priorities ...  it would seem to me that  you would have to                                                               
work the  process from  the bottom up."   Furthermore,  he opined                                                               
that the federal government has  a different priority.  He stated                                                               
his hope that  the director could provide an idea  "of what would                                                               
9:27:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SWANTON  provided the  example of the  Chitna fishery  on the                                                               
Copper River.   The BOF would publicly notice its  intent to deal                                                               
with readjusting  priorities within the personal  use fishery, as                                                               
well  as review  the  Copper River  commercial  fishery, and  the                                                               
subsistence  and sport  fisheries  involved in  the same  stocks.                                                               
Thus, in-cycle or out-of-cycle,  the entire management plan would                                                               
be  reviewed  with  appropriate changes  made  to  recognize  the                                                               
priority.    Mr.  Swanton  opined  this  would  not  be  a  small                                                               
undertaking, given  that the management  plan has been  in effect                                                               
for about  fifteen years, and  the current status  is entrenched.                                                               
Other than that he would not speculate.                                                                                         
9:29:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON asked whether there is a need for the legislation.                                                                 
9:29:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SWANTON  said  that  was  up  to  the  legislature  and  the                                                               
residents of the state.                                                                                                         
9:30:33 AM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was recessed at 9:30 a.m. to a call of the chair.                                                                   
9:47:09 AM                                                                                                                    
[Although  not  formally  announced,   Chair  Edgmon  called  the                                                               
meeting back to order  at 9:47 a.m.  Present at  the call back to                                                               
order  were   Representatives  Edgmon,  Munoz,   Kawasaki,  Buch,                                                               
Johnson, and Millett.]                                                                                                          
CHAIR  EDGMON announced  that  time to  continue  the hearing  is                                                               
limited, and recalled  that the committee has  held four hearings                                                               
on HB 266.  Furthermore,  the committee has received a tremendous                                                               
amount of  written testimony, and  has heard a limited  amount of                                                               
public testimony during the previous  hearings.  He asked for the                                                               
will of the committee.                                                                                                          
9:48:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON moved  to report  CSHB 266,  version [S],                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
CHAIR EDGMON objected.                                                                                                          
9:48:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT stated  she was aware of  the personal use                                                               
fisheries granted  through the process  of the BOF;  however, she                                                               
expressed her discomfort at this  process being undertaken by the                                                               
legislature.     In  addition,  she  understood   the  desire  of                                                               
residents to access  a resource that is owned by  everyone in the                                                               
state.  Representative Millett stated  her support for moving the                                                               
bill to  the next  committee in order  to thoroughly  explore why                                                               
the issue is not before the BOF.                                                                                                
9:50:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  restated his  motion to report  CSHB 266,                                                               
version S,  out of committee with  individual recommendations and                                                               
the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                  
CHAIR EDGMON restated his objection.                                                                                            
9:50:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  contended  that  the  greatest  use  for                                                               
salmon should  be on  the table  of Alaskan  families.   The bill                                                               
ensures that "when there is a  choice to be made, that the choice                                                               
is  that  the  Alaska  family,   [obtains]  a  valuable  protein,                                                               
especially as the economy turns a  little bit, and we go down ...                                                               
that  protein  on  the  table  is,  has to  be  one  of  the  top                                                               
priorities for  the use  of our  fish and game."   He  stated his                                                               
support for expediting the bill.                                                                                                
9:51:52 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR EDGMON  explained his misgivings  regarding the bill:   The                                                               
bill  is  controversial  and   potentially  far-reaching  in  its                                                               
implication for the BOF, and in  its effect on fisheries that are                                                               
currently  recognized as  the  best  managed in  the  world.   He                                                               
pointed  out  that the  state's  fisheries  management policy  is                                                               
based  on   science  and  consensus,   is  well-funded,   and  is                                                               
established in the state constitution.   Furthermore, the BOF has                                                               
the  appropriate authority  to take  the action  intended by  the                                                               
bill, as  it did by  the recent subsistence determination  in the                                                               
Chitna dip  net fishery.   He underscored  his opposition  to the                                                               
bill and concluded that this issue deserves more debate.                                                                        
9:54:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  stated his  concern with the  legislation is                                                               
that the reallocation  required will incur legal  challenges of a                                                               
considerable  cost.   Although  he agreed  that  there should  be                                                               
consideration of  the affected user groups,  fiscal due diligence                                                               
requires that he object to this bill.                                                                                           
9:55:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  said  that  the  bill  has  raised  public                                                               
awareness of the issue; however,  further work should continue on                                                               
the jurisdiction  of fishery's issues.   She stated that  many of                                                               
her constituents are in opposition to moving the bill forward.                                                                  
9:56:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  referred  to  the  caution  about  legal                                                               
challenges and  pointed out that  the state is currently  under a                                                               
legal challenge regarding the priority  of a commercial use group                                                               
over a personal  use fishery; thus, current law  is not effective                                                               
in preventing  lawsuits.  Furthermore,  it is  the responsibility                                                               
of the state  to go to court when challenged,  for the defense of                                                               
its citizens.                                                                                                                   
9:57:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI spoke  of his  personal experience  with                                                               
the  Chitna dip  net  fishery.   It is  difficult  for people  in                                                               
Fairbanks to understand why they  were allowed to catch five king                                                               
salmon  in the  '90s, and  are now  only allowed  one.   He noted                                                               
8,000 residents  from the Fairbanks/North  Star Borough  area are                                                               
in  support of  the bill  and, although  he has  reservations, he                                                               
urged  that the  bill  advance to  the  House Resources  Standing                                                               
Committee  for  further   discussion  about  resource  allocation                                                               
issues and for additional public testimony.                                                                                     
10:00:19 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR EDGMON  apologized to those  who were unable to  testify by                                                               
teleconference, and asked the committee to vote on the bill.                                                                    
10:00:54 AM                                                                                                                   
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Kawasaki, Johnson,                                                               
and  Millett voted  in favor  of HB  266.   Representatives Buch,                                                               
Munoz, and Edgmon voted against it.   Therefore, HB 266 failed to                                                               
move out  of the House Special  Committee on Fisheries by  a vote                                                               
of 3-3.                                                                                                                         

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