Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/15/1997 01:07 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 204 - MORATORIA ON COMMERCIAL FISHERIES ENTRY                             
 Number 1312                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated that the next order of business was House           
 Bill No. 204, "An Act revising the procedures and authority of the            
 Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Board of                    
 Fisheries, and the Department of Fish and Game to establish a                 
 moratorium on participants or vessels, or both, participating in              
 certain fisheries; and providing for an effective date."                      
 Number 1330                                                                   
 AMY DAUGHERTY, Legislative Administrative Assistant to                        
 Representative Alan Austerman, read the following sponsor statement           
 into the record:                                                              
 "House Bill 204 amends the existing moratorium law to provide for             
 workable and effective moratorium law as part of Alaska's existing            
 fisheries management process.  The current moratorium statute has             
 proved unworkable and confusing.  The current process involves                
 multi-steps where a fisher seeking a moratorium must first go to              
 the Commissioner of Fish and Game, who in turn must seek                      
 authorization from the Board of Fisheries.  Once authorization is             
 granted from the Board of Fisheries, the commissioner may then                
 petition the CFEC to provide a moratorium.                                    
 "The commission is then authorized to go forward if it can make               
 findings required by the current statute, which are difficult to              
 understand and mutually inconsistent.                                         
 "This cumbersome and confusing process prevents a quick response in           
 fisheries that are growing too rapidly to ensure effective                    
 management.  As a result, the resource and the economic livelihood            
 of fishers could be jeopardized.  In some situations, ADF&G's only            
 recourse is to close the fishery or refuse to open a new fishery if           
 effort cannot be controlled.                                                  
 "HB 204 would allow fishers seeking a moratorium to petition the              
 commission directly.  This legislation also gives the commission              
 the authority to place a moratorium on vessels and gear as well as            
 individuals.  This is important in a fishery like the Bering Sea              
 [Korean] hair crab fishery and scallops, where large vessels may              
 use a number of different skippers in a season.                               
 "Under the current statute, eligibility to participate during the             
 moratorium is based on past participation.  This requirement                  
 precludes the use of a moratorium in new fisheries or in fisheries            
 that have remained closed for years.  In these two situations,                
 participation levels in an open access fishery may be initially too           
 great to promote resource conservation and sustainable fisheries.             
 HB 204 would allow the commission to implement a moratorium in such           
 fisheries and base eligibility on other reasonable standards such             
 as participation in similar fisheries.                                        
 "Additionally, HB 204 would allow the state to extend its                     
 moratorium authority to offshore fisheries adjacent to state waters           
 when consistent with federal law.                                             
 "Improving the moratorium law is consistent with our concern for              
 developing and protecting jobs, as well as streamlining government            
 and resource protection."                                                     
 MS. DAUGHERTY advised that there was one amendment.                           
 Number 1464                                                                   
 DALE ANDERSON, Chairman, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission                
 (CFEC), stated support for the bill.  He said there is a                      
 dysfunctional statute that creates an undue burden on fishermen.              
 The CFEC would like to streamline access to be able to request a              
 moratorium, rather than going through the convoluted process in               
 place right now.                                                              
 Number 1505                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked whether anyone has petitioned the CFEC            
 against this change in the statutes.                                          
 Number 1513                                                                   
 MR. ANDERSON replied that the CFEC received a letter from the                 
 Petersburg Vessel Owners Association asking for some                          
 clarifications.  The CFEC met with the director, who expressed                
 concern with the elimination of the board's participation in the              
 moratorium process.                                                           
 Number 1550                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked whether Mr. Anderson had seen the                 
 proposed amendment and whether he supports it.                                
 MR. ANDERSON said he had seen it and supports it.  There is no real           
 substantive change; it makes the bill easier to read.                         
 Number 1577                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked whether the amendment is being offered            
 by the prime sponsor.                                                         
 MS. DAUGHERTY said yes.                                                       
 Number 1645                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK made a motion to adopt the amendment, 0-                 
 LSO802\A.1, Utermohle, 4/14/97, which read:                                   
      Page 3, lines 25 - 26:                                                   
           Delete all material.                                                
           Insert "vessel permit to another vessel if the original             
      permitted vessel is sunk, destroyed, or damaged to the extent            
      that the vessel is inoperable for the fishery for which the              
      permit is issued."                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if there was any objection.  There                
 being none, the amendment was adopted.                                        
 Number 1683                                                                   
 BRAD JOHNSON testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, saying he           
 is strongly in favor of the bill.  He said it is important to                 
 understand that in the time it takes to declare a moratorium on a             
 fishery, the number of participants in the fishery can snowball               
 overnight.  For example, in one fishery, the hint of impending                
 limited entry caused the number of permits to go from 186 to 332 in           
 one month.  With this bill in place, that would not happen.                   
 Number 1741                                                                   
 KRAIG NORHEIM testified via teleconference from Petersburg in                 
 support of the bill.  He participates in the shrimp fishery, which            
 is going into a limited entry process; 150 additional boats have              
 been let into the fishery.  Although the fishermen can take it, the           
 resource cannot handle this increased pressure.  He believes the              
 date of the limited entry should have been moved back to January              
 1st of the year when they decided to adopt limited entry.  He                 
 believes this bill will eliminate rushes into soon-to-be-limited              
 Number 1817                                                                   
 BRUCE SIEMINSKI testified via teleconference from Seward.  He                 
 suggested when an impacted species gets "back on line," there                 
 should be provisions increasing the number of permits.  He stated             
 that he favors the bill.                                                      
 Number 1904                                                                   
 BRENNON EAGLE testified via teleconference from Wrangell in favor             
 of the bill.  The CFEC would have much more flexibility when                  
 deciding to limit a fishery.  He gave the example of the pot shrimp           
 fishery, which had a cut-off date to apply for a permit seven weeks           
 following announcement of limited entry.  With a moratorium, an               
 extra 150 people could have been kept out of the fishery.                     
 Number 1848                                                                   
 BILL KNECHT testified via teleconference from Wrangell in favor of            
 the bill.  He stated that this legislation is a necessary tool to             
 help regulate fisheries "so they don't explode out of the viable              
 realm."  He said he represents an association of about 25 members.            
 They are 95 percent in support of this; the other 5 percent are               
 undecided.  He also sits on the Wrangell Fish and Game Advisory               
 Board.  With this tool in place, they will not have to spend                  
 numerous hours trying to figure out how to slow down the Southeast            
 pot shrimp fishery.                                                           
 Number 2029                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA made a motion to move HB 204, as amended,             
 with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note.                 
 Number 2040                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if there were any objections.  There              
 being none, CSHB 204(RES) was moved out of the House Resources                
 Standing Committee.                                                           

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