Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/24/1995 03:36 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SRESSUB 2/24/95                                                               
             SB  49 RESTRUCTURE BOARD OF FISHERIES                            
                                                                              
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  called the Senate Resources Subcommittee meeting to          
 order at 3:36 p.m. and announced SB 49 to be up for consideration.            
                                                                               
 KAY ANDREW, commercial fisherman from Ketchikan, said she was very            
 surprised to see this kind of legislation.  She stated she is                 
 totally against it.  She had served on the Board of Fisheries and             
 lost her seat because of a political conflict in the Northern part            
 of the state.  She did not think it right for the Governor to                 
 appoint three people who would be responsible strictly to the                 
 Governor.  She thought it was important to specify qualifications             
 for people who can be on the Board.  She was confused about the               
 length of the terms for the three appointees.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 56                                                                     
                                                                               
 KEN ERICKSON, Legislative Aide for Senator Pearce, explained that             
 Section 7 deals with setting up the initial staggered terms.  The             
 person appointed to the first term would serve for two years, a               
 person who is appointed to that seat in succeeding years would                
 serve four year terms.  He thought the appointees would be from               
 throughout the state with varied backgrounds.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 99                                                                     
                                                                               
 NEVIN MAY, Ketchikan commercial/sport fisherman and a sport hunter,           
 said he doesn't see anything in this bill that he likes at all.               
 The system we now have might be refined a little, but it is the               
 envy of the rest of the Pacific Coast as far as management goes.              
 He thought there would be just as much politics, but just fewer               
 people under SB 49.                                                           
                                                                               
 GENENEIVA PEARSON, Kodiak resident, said her family has been                  
 involved in the commercial fishing harvest since 1944.  The                   
 industry is too complex to have a Board that doesn't have deep                
 knowledge of the fisheries.  It doesn't make any more sense to have           
 lay people regulating fishermen than it does to have lay people               
 regulating dentists, doctors, engineers, and lawyers.  She noted SB
 49 does not prohibit people who have interests in commercial sport            
 fishing from participating.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 175                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHRIS BERNS, Kodiak commercial fisherman since 1958, said this bill           
 is an attack on the fishing industry.  To suggest that the Board              
 have people with no commercial fishing experience is irresponsible.           
 This resource is now one of the few remaining solely controlled by            
 the State and should be managed in a responsible way.  A                      
 professional Board would not lead to a less contentious process,              
 but it would carry all the pitfalls of a lay Board.  A Board should           
 be made up of a group of peers who have an in-depth knowledge of              
 the industry.  A Board member should be more of a fisherman than a            
 dentist or a lawyer.                                                          
                                                                               
 MR. BERNS pointed out a contradiction between language on page 1,             
 lines 7 - 9 and on page 2, lines 1 - 2 which describe the                     
 qualifications of the Board members.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 244                                                                    
                                                                               
 DONALD FOX, Kodiak commercial fisherman and a member of the local             
 Advisory Board for ten years, said there are problems within the              
 Board of Fisheries the way it is constituted, but he thought it               
 would be better to try to fix it than to totally change it.  He               
 sees SB 49 as, "an attempt by the sport fishing interest, the                 
 Railbelt, and Mat-Su Valley legislators to get total control of our           
 Board of Fish."  He suggested just increasing the Board from seven            
 to nine members according to specific geographic areas - with                 
 representation for everybody.                                                 
                                                                               
 JOHN BOCCI, Cordova District Fishermen United, said he had problems           
 with understanding the word "commercial" as it is used in SB 49.              
 It is also a blatant attempt to put control where it doesn't belong           
 and it certainly isn't going to cure any perceived problems in the            
 boards of Fisheries and Game.  He commended HB 141 which confirms             
 members before they serve and said this should be applied to all              
 boards and commissions.  He strongly suggested gradually changing             
 the existing system rather than gutting it.  He added that he is              
 also an avid sports fisherman and hunter.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 293                                                                    
                                                                               
 JAMES MYKLAND, Cordova commercial fisherman, strongly opposed SB
 49.  The Alaska commercial fishing industry is the state's largest            
 private employer, providing jobs for 75,000 people during the peak            
 of the season.  He thought more funds needed to be allocated to               
 fisheries management.  The present structure of the Board seems to            
 be working.  "How else can you explain record harvests of salmon in           
 Alaska during the last five years?" he asked.                                 
                                                                               
 MR. MYKLAND said he would like to see higher funding for the staff            
 of the Board of Fisheries and for the local Advisory Boards which             
 help identify the specific problems each area is having.  He does             
 support HB 141 which would help depoliticize the confirmation                 
 process.  He also agrees with the Knowles/Ulmer transition team               
 recommendation to create regional management panels.                          
                                                                               
 Number 330                                                                    
                                                                               
 JACK HOPKINS, Alaskan resident, said he is opposed to SB 49.  He              
 felt the current system is working, and any changes would be a                
 great injustice to the state, the people, and the resource.                   
                                                                               
 Number 348                                                                    
                                                                               
 DEBORAH LYONS, Petersburg, said she is a former member of the Board           
 of Fisheries and was on the Governor's transition team, she is                
 currently helping the Salmon Commission, and is a member of the               
 Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.  She noted               
 that some very wise legislators created the entire board process,             
 recognizing how much of our State is out of the eyes of the                   
 enforcement people.  People have to make individual decisions                 
 whether or not to obey the regulations.  We don't have the                    
 enforcement capability or the funding for the ADF&G to observe                
 everything that goes on in this State.  Legislators realize that              
 public involvement in creating regulation are important to have               
 effective fish and game management.                                           
                                                                               
 MS. LYONS said that the board process isn't working very well at              
 the present time, and it needs to in order for people to respect              
 the regulations enough to obey them.                                          
                                                                               
 She didn't really see how this bill could make the situation any              
 better.                                                                       
                                                                               
 GORDON JENSEN, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, said he spent            
 20 years on the Board of Fish and Game and he thought it was                  
 probably the best system.  He said people need to have the ability            
 to participate, but this bill would minimize their input.                     
                                                                               
 CHRIS SHARPSTEEN, Petersburg Advisory Committee, opposed SB 49.  He           
 said we have a system in place that works when it's not fiddled               
 with.  Now people have access to the process, and because of that             
 access, believe in the process.  The input is incredible as long as           
 it is acted upon.  If you put three bureaucrats in charge of the              
 Board of Fisheries, you're going to alienate entirely the users of            
 this resource.                                                                
                                                                               
 DREW SCALZI, Homer commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49.  He was a             
 member of the transition team and was surprised that this came up             
 in the Legislature so quickly.  He looked at the makeup of the APUC           
 and AOGCC, and the background required reflected what their jobs on           
 the commissions were.  He said there is nothing wrong with the                
 process the way it is now.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 453                                                                    
                                                                               
 LARRY SMITH, Homer, said he spent a number of years on local                  
 Advisory Committees and he thought that was an important part of              
 the process that has suffered over the years.  He thought the                 
 concept of the bill was good, but it needed a lot of work,                    
 especially with public input, in all the phases.  He thought,                 
 however, that the Board should be organized so that it could avoid            
 going to the Legislature to accomplish its goals.                             
                                                                               
 DAN WINN, North Pacific Fisheries Association, said they usually              
 don't get involved in the Board of Fisheries process.  They use the           
 NPFC.  One of the reasons is because they have such diverse user              
 groups that they don't want it divided up.  In SB 49 they find the            
 "who may not be a member" section quite offensive and they voted              
 today to oppose this legislation.  He didn't think a professional             
 board would be any better than the current organization.  The other           
 fisheries on the west coast that have professional boards have                
 declined because of it.                                                       
                                                                               
 JOHN FOSTER, Sand Point commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49,                  
 because it prohibits the members of the Board from having an vested           
 economic interest in the fisheries resources.  There is nothing               
 about sport fishing interests being prohibited.  He, therefore,               
 thought it was discriminatory.                                                
                                                                               
 He is aware of the problems in the Area M fishery; most of which              
 are caused by political meddling.  No other area has been hit as              
 hard by board politics, but he still believes in the board process.           
 It is very important to have people who are knowledgeable about the           
 fishing industry making the decisions for the fishing industry.               
                                                                               
 JOSEPH CARR, Sand Point commercial fisherman, concurred with Mr.              
 Foster's testimony.                                                           
                                                                               
 PEGGY OSTERBACK, Sand Point commercial boat owner,  opposed SB 49,            
 because it is discriminatory in nature, because it keeps people who           
 have a financial interest in the fisheries from being on the Board.           
 It implies that a person does not have the integrity to serve on              
 the board just because they have an interest in fishing.  Looking             
 at the other state boards and commissions you'll find those people            
 still have a vested financial interest in the businesses they                 
 regulate.  She used the Board of Education, the Board of                      
 Chiropractic Examiners, the Medical Board, and the Judicial Conduct           
 Commission, as examples.                                                      
                                                                               
 A person who participates in the fishing industry brings experience           
 and knowledge to the board that cannot be acquired in any other way           
 than by participating in the industry.                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN noted that Senator Georgianna Lincoln was on line in            
 Delta Junction.                                                               
                                                                               
 LEONARD EFTA, Kenai commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49.  He said             
 in a board with only three members that two people would have                 
 complete control of the fishery which could be a disaster.  With a            
 seven member board there is representation from various user groups           
 which he thinks is real important.                                            
                                                                               
 DALE BONDURANT opposed going to a three member board.  He said the            
 reason the boards were separated in the past was because it's a big           
 job and the diversity and knowledge was needed.  He agreed that it            
 would be likely for "sweetheart deals" to happen with a three                 
 member board.  He said the playing field needs to be leveled on the           
 existing board, though.  There should be some sort of economic                
 requirements to get back to fair representation.  He said this is             
 a common resource and all people in Alaska should be represented on           
 it.                                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 532                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOSEPH JOLLY, commercial fisherman and board member of United Cook            
 Inlet Driftnetters Association (UCIDA), opposed reducing the number           
 of people on the Board of Fisheries.                                          
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-13, SIDE B                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. JOLLY pointed out that while SB 49 proposes paying a board the            
 Legislature is having a hard time finding money to pay for other              
 things.  People have to remember that all user groups use the fish            
 out there, he said, and they need to look at the habitat concerns             
 that are happening on the rivers.  Commercial fishermen put a                 
 portion of their income into renewing the resource; he thought it             
 was time that everyone else did, too.                                         
 Number 571                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHARLES MCKEE, Anchorage resident, said it would be difficult to              
 restructure the board.  He said there is a meeting on March 15                
 between Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Alaska on salmon recovery.           
 He thought it was wiser to work in that direction rather than to              
 put energy into a new board structure.                                        
                                                                               
 DON MITCHELL, Anchorage attorney, said he had represented clients             
 on both boards over the last 20 years.  He said Governor Cowper               
 appointed a Task Force to look into this issue.  He said anyone who           
 knows about the regulatory process knows that its time has come and           
 gone and it is more than inefficient.  It is morally and ethically            
 corrupt.  Senator Pearce, in this bill, attacks only one of three             
 components.                                                                   
                                                                               
 First, there is no way to test the quality of information provided            
 by the public and ADF&G and there is no record of supporting                  
 evidence for decisions that are made.                                         
                                                                               
 Second, there are no standards for coming up with a decision.  He             
 said that people complain about too much politics in the board                
 process.  Consulting the Alaska Constitution, one will find that              
 the Congress of the State assigned the Legislature, not the Boards            
 of Fisheries and Game, the responsibility for making these                    
 decisions.  They recognized that who gets to use fish and game has            
 a very important social and economic policy consequences.  In 1958,           
 when the board process was created by the Legislature, there was no           
 sport fishery and no one cared about the Native people.  He said              
 the only statutory guide to decision making is the subsistence                
 statute.  The Legislature needs to ask questions like, are mixed              
 stock fisheries good or bad for the State of Alaska.  Then the                
 Board, based upon the facts, should make decisions.                           
                                                                               
 The third issue, which Senator Pearce is addressing, is the issue             
 of the composition of the board itself.  He said people are                   
 appointed to the board now, because of their conflicts of interest.           
 That is why people are tired of this board process.                           
                                                                               
 MR. MITCHELL noted that the Natives are becoming more attracted to            
 the Federal Subsistence Board and it's because most people are not            
 "mobbed up" with their decisions.                                             
                                                                               
 CHIP TRIEN, commercial and sport fisherman, said he didn't think              
 regulating fish was as complicated as rocket science.  But it                 
 requires a great deal of deliberation and consensus building.  It             
 should be compared to that kind of thing.  Public trust is a very,            
 very important part.  The board process requires a great deal of              
 public input and should be considered seriously.  A three member              
 board doesn't allow for the same kind of public input that a seven            
 member lay board has.                                                         
                                                                               
 MR. TRIEN was also concerned that a three member board could be run           
 by just two people.  He thought it was insulting that commercial              
 fishermen and anyone with a commercial interest is excluded and               
 other people with self serving interests are not excluded.                    
                                                                               
 Number 422                                                                    
                                                                               
 DREW SPARLIN JR. said he has been involved in the Board of                    
 Fisheries process for many years.  He said this bill is                       
 interrupting the board process.  There is a consensus of minds                
 working together right now to solve issues between many groups.  No           
 one is being excluded. This bill would allow only special interest            
 groups to gain control over Statewide management.                             
                                                                               
 Number 370                                                                    
                                                                               
 RICHARD ANDREW, Ketchikan fisherman, opposed SB 49.  He said he               
 couldn't think of anything to add to what had already been said.              
                                                                               
 ROYCE RANNIGER, Ketchikan commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49.  He            
 said it's heavily weighted down with politics.  We have the last              
 great fishery in the United States.  The responsibility is awesome            
 and it should be managed accordingly.  Any Board can only be                  
 effective if it represents all the interests which it governs.                
                                                                               
 MR. RANNIGER suggested that the Boards of Fisheries and Game should           
 be as far removed from the political arena as possible.  Treat it             
 like the Supreme Court, he said, with life-time appointments.  The            
 board makeup would be from all user groups in each area and when a            
 member quits or retires, a replacement must come from that area and           
 group.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Due to the vastness of our State, there should be two separate                
 Boards of Fisheries and Game, a Northern Board and a Southeast                
 Board, he concluded.                                                          
 Number 337                                                                    
                                                                               
 KEN DUCKETT said he served nine years on a local Advisory Board.              
 He is a long-time commercial fisherman and resident of Ketchikan.             
 He is adamantly opposed to SB 49 for all the reasons the                      
 subcommittee has heard.  He said the people who use the resource              
 are the ones who are most concerned with preserving it.                       
                                                                               
 ANDY RAUWOLF, President of the Herring Coalition, opposed most of             
 this bill.  The Board of Fisheries does need some overhauling, but            
 a three-member Board is not the answer.  After sitting in on the              
 last few Board meetings, he thought there was too much power                  
 generated among people who are unfamiliar with specific areas of              
 Alaska.  He thought it advisable to give each local Advisory                  
 Committee a vote on the proposal affecting their area.  He thought            
 this would generate a lot more public interest on the local level.            
 Six or eight Advisory Committees in a specific area would make the            
 Board of Fisheries pay more attention to what they are                        
 recommending.  He has seen Advisory Committee recommendations                 
 totally ignored by the Board of Fisheries, he added.                          
                                                                               
 KRIS NOROSZ, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, opposed SB 49.             
 They support the present system of a seven-member lay Board,                  
 although it's not without its problems.  Historically, it has                 
 served the State quite well.  The Governor's Transition Team on               
 Fisheries fully supported the lay board and made some excellent               
 recommendations for improvement to the present system.  One of the            
 recommendations is in HB 141 which would allow for a change in the            
 dates in terms of board members.  This would help depoliticize the            
 confirmation process by holding confirmation hearings prior to the            
 appointee making any board decisions.  A professional board would             
 lack the important knowledge and experience of Alaska's fishing               
 industry.  This would alienate the public and erode the credibility           
 of the board.                                                                 
                                                                               
 The present board system needs more funding to ensure greater                 
 participation by local Advisory Committee chairmen at the board               
 meetings and to provide increased staff support for the Local                 
 Advisory Committee and the public.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 263                                                                    
                                                                               
 OSCAR DYSON, 48 year Alaskan commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49,             
 because it wouldn't be any better than what we have.  Looking at              
 the historical record of management, we still have good healthy               
 runs of fish and he would not want to endanger that with a board              
 that doesn't have knowledge of the fisheries.                                 
                                                                               
 VIRGINIA ADAMS, Vice President of the Northwest Setnetters                    
 Association, said she had been a commercial fisherman for 20 years            
 and was very much against this bill.  She spent many years gaining            
 the knowledge to fish in a number of fisheries and she personally             
 would like individuals on the Board who have knowledge of                     
 commercial fishing.                                                           
                                                                               
 AL BURCH said he started fishing in 1946 and then the population              
 was 146,000.  We are now at 600,000.  He has spent 13 years on the            
 Board of Fisheries.  In the early days when we had a small                    
 population, they addressed all problems of fish, game, and                    
 trapping.  He said the people who serve now should get a medal for            
 all the flack they take.  One suggestion he had was to form a third           
 board to take some of the pressure off the people.  He said he knew           
 most of the people who testified today and they represent thousands           
 of years of accumulated fishing experience - a corporate memory.              
 He urged that they kill SB 49 in committee.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 221                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRUCE SCHACTLER, Area K Seiners, said there has been so much                  
 testimony against this bill, that there isn't anything left to say.           
 He wrote a letter last week and pointed out that the Legislative              
 Research Agency has not been able to find a board like Senator                
 Pearce is proposing.  It doesn't exist anywhere in the United                 
 States or Canada.  He didn't see any reason for Alaska to be the              
 guinea pig when we have the best resource in the nation.                      
                                                                               
 MR. SCHACTLER said the problem comes from the Governor not                    
 appointing the right people and from people in the Legislature that           
 threaten the public with lack of funding for the most needed                  
 program in the State unless their people get put on the board.                
                                                                               
 MIKE MILLIGAN, Kodiak, said he was concerned specifically with                
 going to a three-member board.  He thought it would be a big                  
 mistake.  The thing that has made this country great is our ability           
 to compromise and to build consensus in times of controversy.                 
 Going to three members would disenfranchise vast segments of                  
 Alaska.  The second problem is with no vested interest in the                 
 fisheries.  He thought having a vested interest in the resources is           
 what still gives us the fish to fight over.                                   
                                                                               
 RALPH LOHSE, Cordova commercial/sport/commercial sport fisherman,             
 opposed SB 49 and supported HB 141.  He said the current board                
 process gives all people with a direct interest a say in the                  
 management.  That is what good government is all about.  It also              
 makes for good resource management.  It should be left as it is; it           
 has worked in the past; it will work in the future.                           
                                                                               
 MR. LOHSE asked why there was only one user group that was excluded           
 from the board in SB 49.  He said they needed as much                         
 representation as anybody else.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 92                                                                     
 CHARLES DEVILLE, Cordova fisherman, was dead-set against SB 49,               
 because he wants to be represented on the Board by fishermen.  He             
 thought commercial fishermen could also represent subsistence and             
 sport fishermen, but he didn't see how sport fishermen can                    
 represent commercial fishermen.                                               
                                                                               
 DENNIS RANDA, President, State Council of Trout Unlimited, said               
 last year the Council took a position against the Board of                    
 Fisheries as being flawed and not responding to the social and                
 economic needs of people across the State of Alaska.  He said that            
 politics has been the art of compromise and there hasn't been much            
 compromise between sport and commercial users on the Board of                 
 Fisheries.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. RANDA said he was on the Knowles/Ulmer Transition Team and they           
 did agree that the board process wasn't working, but that they                
 didn't want a professional bBoard.  He noted that the board                   
 continually uses historical uses as a priority in allocation                  
 without regard for social or economic considerations.                         
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-14, SIDE A                                                            
                                                                               
 BEN ELLIS, Executive Director, Kenai River Sport Fish Association,            
 said they prefer the current lay Board structure being maintained.            
 If Governors and lawmakers continue to appoint and confirm board              
 members who have direct conflicts of interest and would eventually            
 be "conflicted out," the Board could very easily come to a grinding           
 halt.  So he supported the concept behind the bill, but not the               
 bill itself.  With the growing emergence of non-commercial users in           
 the State, conflict over the allocation must be addressed in a                
 positive form.  There must be a level playing field where decisions           
 are made which are in the best interests of all Alaskans.  If that            
 cannot be accomplished by a lay Board, maybe some form of SB 49 is            
 the answer.                                                                   
                                                                               
 He commended Senator Pearce for addressing the issue in this bill.            
                                                                               
 Number 54                                                                     
                                                                               
 THEO MATTHEWS, Executive Director, United Cook Inlet Drift                    
 Association, opposed SB 49.  They support the current lay board               
 process.  The proposal in SB 49 would not produce any better                  
 results than are made now.  Their primary objection is going to a             
 three-member board.  He said there would be even more battles over            
 confirmation, because there will be a smaller "pot" to work with -            
 two people could dictate any outcome.                                         
                                                                               
 This process does not recognize the inherent conflicts that non-              
 commercial users have.  For people concerned with reallocation, no            
 board process is going to be fair until they get what they want.              
                                                                               
 MR. MATTHEWS suggested they get better pay for the current board              
 members.  They need adequate staff for the current board members              
 and they also need a historian, because too often board members               
 don't know what deliberations went into the original regulations.             
 They need better representation by the Advisory Committees.  He               
 emphasized that better pay, better staff, and better participation            
 has been curtailed by this Legislature as they cut funding over the           
 years.                                                                        

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