Legislature(1997 - 1998)

01/29/1998 01:25 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
HB 285 - POINT SYSTEM FOR COMMERCIAL FISH VIOLATIO                             
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the next order of business was House              
Bill No. 285, "An Act relating to suspension or revocation of                  
commercial fishing permits and privileges."                                    
                                                                               
Number 0795                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE IVAN M. IVAN, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of              
HB 285, explained there have been violations from the Bristol Bay              
side of the commercial fishery causing concerns and recommendations            
to address the problem.  He read the following sponsor statement               
into the record:                                                               
                                                                               
"This bill was introduced to address concerns of illegal fishing               
activities committed by commercial fishers throughout my district              
and other commercial fishing communities throughout Alaska.  It has            
been said that some of these illegal activities become a philosophy            
among some fishers as the 'cost of doing business' should they be              
convicted for such activities.                                                 
                                                                               
"The intent of this legislation before you is to establish a point             
system against a commercial fishing permit for a conviction of a               
violation of commercial fishing laws found under AS 16.05.723.                 
Should 12 or more points be assessed against a permit during any               
consecutive 48 month period as a result of convictions of                      
violations, the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission would then be            
given the authority to suspend the permit.  The same is true for an            
accumulation of 16 or more points during any consecutive 60 month              
period.  The commission would be able to revoke an entry or interim            
use permit if 18 or more points are accumulated during any                     
consecutive 72 month period.  And to encourage lawful fishing, two             
points will be deducted from the total points assessed against a               
permit if the permit holder is not convicted of a violation of                 
commercial fishing laws during a 12 month period after the date of             
the last violation.                                                            
                                                                               
"The bill outlines the suspension and revocation process, the                  
notice and appeal process and the notification to the commission by            
the Department of Public Safety and the Court System.                          
                                                                               
"Any points accumulated for commercial fishing violations will be              
assessed against the permit not the permit holder.  Should the                 
permit holder decide to transfer or sell the permit, all the points            
accumulated by the permit holder will stay with the permit thus                
providing a disincentive for a permit holder to transfer a permit              
should it be subject to suspension or revocation."                             
                                                                               
Number 1006                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE IVAN explained, after introducing the legislation               
last spring, the bill was changed to place points against the                  
person rather than the permit to alleviate problems during the                 
revocation process.  This was the result of discussions between                
Ivan's staff, the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank               
(CFAB), the Division of Investments, and the Commercial Fisheries              
Entry Commission.  The main intent remains the same, however.                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE IVAN further explained the original bill was drafted            
to aggressively arrive at a violation point system and fine to                 
eliminate illegal fishing.  This was not fair to commercial fishers            
who try to make the most out of fishing activities, lawfully.  In              
addition, concerns in regard to default loans and lending                      
institutions to encourage lawful fishing will be addressed later by            
CFAB.  Representative Ivan further stated it is important to keep              
the fishing permits in the state as much as possible and to                    
minimize the opportunity for outsiders to buy permits.  It is also             
important to make opportunities equal for commercial fishing while             
trying to stop illegal fishing.  There is a statute that addresses             
the issue but the fines are not enough to keep legal fishing                   
lucrative.                                                                     
                                                                               
Number 1249                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Representative Ivan whether the increase            
in fines would cover the additional cost of enforcement.  He also              
asked how enforcement would be changed for violators.  He supported            
the bill, but was concerned about the increase in litigation that              
would result.                                                                  
                                                                               
Number 1300                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE IVAN replied representatives from the enforcement               
side were here to respond to those types of questions.                         
                                                                               
Number 1309                                                                    
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the bill would not pass out of                    
committee today.  The intention is to try to understand the                    
elements of the bill.  The sponsor will probably come back with a              
substitute to reflect the concern of applying the violation to the             
person as opposed to the permit.                                               
                                                                               
Number 1398                                                                    
                                                                               
BRUCE TWOMLEY, Chairman, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission,                
Department of Fish and Game, stated the commission is intrigued by             
HB 285 because the idea emanated from local Bristol Bay fishermen.             
The idea is consistent with limited entry policies.  The commission            
administers fishing privileges while the state reserves the right              
to revoke the privileges when conservation laws are not observed.              
There might be some cost, as Representative Green noted, for                   
administering the bill.  The commission is trying to get some                  
definite information from the court system.  It will present a                 
fiscal note upon reviewing the bill as it evolves into a committee             
substitute.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 1457                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON asked Mr. Twomley what would happen if a             
permit was revoked and there is an outstanding balance on the loan.            
                                                                               
Number 1469                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. TWOMLEY replied the current bill addresses the issue.  There               
would be an opportunity for the lending institutions to be                     
protected if there was a foreclosure.                                          
                                                                               
Number 1484                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Mr. Twomley how the commission would                
handle the subterfuge of transferring a permit to a deck hand when             
it reached 10 points, for example.                                             
                                                                               
Number 1510                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. TWOMLEY replied the commission is prepared to handle that type             
of subterfuge.  The question, however, frames the basic issue about            
the bill - whether the points should be assessed against the                   
individual or permit.  If the points are assessed against the                  
individual, it would address the subterfuge problem and make it                
easier for the commission to administer.  It would be easier to                
track an individual rather than a permit.                                      
                                                                               
Number 1557                                                                    
                                                                               
JOHN GLASS, Colonel, Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife                   
Protection, Department of Public Safety, stated HB 285 came from a             
request of Bristol Bay fishermen to put the chronic offender out of            
business.  The division strongly supports the bill because it would            
aid and assist the division.  The division's original intent was to            
assess points against the permit thereby making it less valuable               
and setting a higher value on the cost of doing business.  However,            
after discussions with Representative Ivan and staff members, the              
division would be willing to work out the best solution.                       
                                                                               
Number 1611                                                                    
                                                                               
COLONEL GLASS further stated, in reference to Representative                   
Green's question, the division does not feel that the bill would               
impact them fiscally.  There would be an impact on the court                   
system, however, because there would be more litigation.                       
                                                                               
Number 1642                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE JOULE asked Colonel Glass whether there has              
been any thought given to penalizing both the permit and the                   
individual.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 1678                                                                    
                                                                               
COLONEL GLASS replied he has not given the idea any thought, nor               
has the idea been a part of any discussions today.                             
                                                                               
Number 1689                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated for the record he is a Bristol Bay                 
permit holder and has been busted twice in the last twenty-five                
years.  He never knew, however, whether he was guilty or not.                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON further stated he supports strong enforcement             
and all the necessary deterrents to keep from fishing "over the                
line" deliberately.  "What has disturbed me is it didn't seem to me            
in the past that the court fines were significantly different for              
a group of boats that were fishing middle-bluff in the middle of               
the night with no lights, and those who had an equipment failure or            
got gear in the prop and drifted over the line as they were                    
desperately trying to fix it."  The process has not been able to               
differentiate between conspirators and bad seamanship or equipment             
failure.  He asked Colonel Glass whether there is a way to work on             
that end of the problem.                                                       
                                                                               
Number 1753                                                                    
                                                                               
COLONEL GLASS replied the division has been attempting to increase             
its efficiency and effectiveness in regards to the "lines" in                  
Bristol Bay.  The division is constantly and consistently changing             
its approach to business at the request of the fishers that                    
participate there.  "We're not perfect, but we're trying to respond            
to what their needs are to try to resolve that problem."  In                   
response to the courts, the judges have full authority to hear the             
stories and make decisions justly.  The division just presents the             
cases to the judges.  Discussions have been held with magistrates              
in the Bristol Bay area and headway has been made.                             
                                                                               
Number 1794                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated the last time that he got busted he did            
not know about it until he returned to Anchorage where a state                 
trooper stopped him to tell him a picture had been taken of him                
fishing over the line.  There was no way he could recapture what               
went on that day in terms of the tide.  He asked Colonel Glass                 
whether the division would be doing those types of things in the               
future.                                                                        
                                                                               
Number 1822                                                                    
                                                                               
COLONEL GLASS replied the division is trying all different sorts of            
things to resolve the over-the-line fishing problem.  He would not             
say the division would not do that again because it might.                     
Hopefully, the division would be more effective in getting a notice            
to him sooner.  There are good ways to keep track of the tides,                
however.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 1846                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated he appreciated the stealth operations              
of the division.  He would like to modify the laws to help the                 
division deal with intentional violations.                                     
                                                                               
Number 1876                                                                    
                                                                               
COLONEL GLASS replied the division thinks HB 285 is a step in the              
right direction to help address those types of problems and                    
concerns.                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 1908                                                                    
                                                                               
ED CRANE, President, Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank            
(CFAB) testified via teleconference in Anchorage.  The bank is one             
of only two entities with statutory authority to put a lien on                 
limited entry permits and to secure loans on pledges of limited                
entry permits.  The bank is very much in favor of the purpose of HB
285.  The bank has discussed with Representative Ivan's office the             
unintended consequences of the bill as structured in regards to                
liens, and it is understood that the issue will be taken care of by            
attaching points to the individual rather than the permit.  The                
intent of the bill is to get after the scofflaws and remove them               
from the fisheries.  In addition, attaching points to individuals              
would take care of the issues of repeated transfers between                    
individuals, fisheries, and selling a permit with points and buying            
a permit with no points.                                                       
                                                                               
Number 2206                                                                    
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced HB 285 will be heard again when it                
more accurately reflects the interest of the parties involved.                 
                                                                               
Number 2222                                                                    
                                                                               
MIKE FRICERRO, Fisherman, testified via teleconference in Kodiak.              
He operates the fishing vessel "Rainy Dawn."  He has been fishing              
in Egegik at the line for approximately 15 years with no                       
violations.  He supports HB 285 and its intent.  It would be a big             
deterrent for the group of violators that he is accustomed to                  
watching.  It would be even more effective with the modifications              
mentioned earlier.  He would like to see a differentiation between             
intentional violations and bad judgements.  He would also like to              
see the problems with the loran system improve, otherwise it puts              
the enforcement personnel at a disadvantage.  In addition, he would            
like to add a transfer period for district registration as a point             
violation and a warning for the first violation for both gear and              
boat markings.  Lastly, he would like to see the appeals process               
address a prior record and intent before suspending a license.                 
                                                                               
Number 2400                                                                    
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON thanked Mr. Fricerro for his constructive                   
suggestions.                                                                   
                                                                               
Number 2413                                                                    
                                                                               
MARK E. ANGASON, Commercial Fisherman, testified via teleconference            
in Naknek.  He wrote a letter to Colonel Glass suggesting a point              
system against the boat and permit because the violations were                 
getting worse.                                                                 
                                                                               
TAPE 98-3, SIDE B                                                              
Number 0000                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. ANGASON continued by stating the burden of fishing illegally               
should be placed upon the fishermen themselves.  He would like to              
see a point system placed against the boat and individual, if it is            
not placed against the permit.  Generally, illegal fishing is to               
help make a boat payment.  "Well, it isn't my problem that they                
have such a huge boat payment, but that's the reason for them                  
saying that they got to go over the line to catch more fish."  It              
is wrong and the boat should be taken out of the fishery.  Whatever            
is decided he would support, as-long-as, the points are severe                 
enough to deter a person from fishing illegally.                               
                                                                               
Number 0050                                                                    
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated it was an interesting thought to place a             
detriment on a boat or equipment.                                              
                                                                               
Number 0066                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON suggested to the committee members to look at             
Mr. Angason's written suggestions on modifying the violation point             
system.  They are reasonable and worth paying attention to.                    
                                                                               
Number 0094                                                                    
                                                                               
JOE McGILL, President, Bristol Bay Herring Marketing Cooperative,              
testified via teleconference in Dillingham.  He has been fishing in            
Bristol Bay for fifty seasons without a violation.  He does not                
mean he is incapable of getting one.  He is opposed to HB 285.  It             
is aimed strictly at Bristol Bay when some of the worst violations             
are in Area M.  In addition, the mandatory points/regulations just             
mean a lot more litigation when the legislature should really fund             
more money for enforcement.  More enforcement would allow for more             
fines to be collected eventually paying for itself.                            
                                                                               
Number 0160                                                                    
                                                                               
JERRY McCUNE, Representative, United Fishermen of Alaska;                      
President, Cordova District Fishermen United, cautioned the haste              
to regulate one fishery when other fisheries are different.  In                
response to attaching a violation to a boat, some are worth                    
$100,000, some are worth $50,000, while some are worth $500,000.               
"I wouldn't get too hasty on looking at that one."  Points should              
be attached to an individual noting whether or not he or she has a             
permit.  In response to multiple permit holders, an individual                 
would have to choose between fisheries, unless it was in somebody              
else's name.  Therefore, he would like to see the points stuck to              
the fishery where the violation occurred.                                      
                                                                               
MR. McCUNE referred the committee members to page 2, line 3,                   
subsection (b), "(1) fishing in closed waters - 6 points," and                 
stated the violation needs to be clarified more.  There are closed             
waters, line fisheries, and moving lines.  For example, in Prince              
William Sound there are three different lines around a hatchery.               
                                                                               
MR. McCUNE referred the committee members to page 2, line 3,                   
subsection (b), "(3) fishing with more than the legal amount of                
gear - 6 points," and stated in some areas gear is hung by someone             
else.                                                                          
                                                                               
MR. McCUNE referred the committee members to page 2, line 3,                   
subsection (b), "(6) fishing with more than the legal amount of                
gear on vessel - 4 points," and stated it is obvious when people               
are fishing with more gear than necessary.                                     
                                                                               
MR. McCUNE stated he was primarily concerned with Prince William               
Sound where people hang their gear and suggested a warning rather              
than a six-point violation.  He announced he would work with the               
sponsor to ensure the bill addresses the issues statewide, not just            
one area.                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0310                                                                    
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON reiterated it is not his intention to move HB
285 from the committee today.  More work is needed.                            
                                                                               
Number 0325                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Co-Chairman Hudson, if the bill was                 
written so that the points accrued against an individual, would the            
individual be able to fish as a crew member on a different boat or             
his or her own boat.                                                           
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON replied it is an important distinction and needs            
to be addressed.  He suggested putting all concerns and questions              
into writing and forwarding them to the prime sponsor of the bill.             
                                                                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced HB 285 will be held over for further              
consideration.                                                                 

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