Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/25/1995 01:00 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SRES - 2/25/95                                                                
            SB  49 RESTRUCTURE BOARD OF FISHERIES                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN , in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office,            
 called the Senate Resources Subcommittee meeting to order at 1:00             
 p.m. and introduced  SB 49  as the only order of business before the          
 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison for the Department of Fish and               
 Game, stated that the Board of Fisheries provides a cost effective            
 manner in which to utilize local knowledge and industry expertise             
 in the regulatory process.  Duplicating such knowledge and                    
 expertise with a staff effort would prove difficult.  Another                 
 difficulty would be the social and economic issues the Board of               
 Fisheries currently faces; a professional board would face such               
 issues as well.  He felt that most would agree that the system of             
 resource management in Alaska has done a good job with                        
 conservation.  The problem seems to be the social and economic                
 issues regarding resources.  In conclusion, Mr. Bruce said that the           
 Administration supports the citizen lay board while recognizing the           
 need for possible improvements.                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN suggested that Mr. Bruce forward any recommendations            
 regarding possible venues for improvement in the process.  He                 
 commented that the approach in HB 141 would probably achieve                  
 consensus.  GERON BRUCE said that he would forward any suggestions.           
 Mr. Bruce noted that the Administration supports HB 141 and would             
 be working on some changes to that legislation.                               
 SENATOR HOFFMAN inquired as to Mr. Bruce's comments regarding the             
 suggestion of adding two members to the Board in order to improve             
 its composition.  GERON BRUCE recognized that adding two members              
 could offer a broader representation of Alaska.  The idea is worthy           
 of review and consideration.                                                  
 SENATOR HOFFMAN mentioned the concept of creating three regional              
 fish boards in order to alleviate the current board's inability to            
 address issues every year.  The Board can only speak to issues                
 every three years while the board's members serve from two to three           
 years.  GERON BRUCE noted that this idea has been before the                  
 legislature in the past.  The main disadvantages to such a proposal           
 would be the cost and the inability of the three boards to address            
 issues that span the jurisdiction of all three.  Mr. Bruce                    
 presented another possibility; a Board historian could compile a              
 record of the issues before the Board of Fisheries and the manner             
 in which they have been handled up to date.                                   
 SENATOR LEMAN reiterated that Mr. Bruce should offer any                      
 suggestions regarding improvements to the Board of Fisheries.  He             
 indicated that he intended to use SB 49 as a vehicle, modifying to            
 include those portions that will achieve consensus.  GERON BRUCE              
 appreciated the introduction of SB 49 because it provides a forum             
 to discuss these issues.                                                      
 JERRY McCUNE, United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), stated that all 22            
 member groups of UFA oppose SB 49.  He explained that the UFA would           
 like to continue the current Board of Fisheries comprised of lay              
 citizens.  Currently, the Board of Fisheries is comprised of seven            
 governor-appointed members who are subject to confirmation by the             
 Alaska legislature.  He noted that many states envy this structure.           
 Mr. McCune recognized that the system could use some improvements.            
 He suggested following the change in dates and terms of board                 
 members as specified in HB 141.  He also suggested returning the              
 local advisory groups to the process in which the board addresses             
 issues.  There is controversy regarding the board's conflict of               
 interest.  He proposed discussing the conflict of interest issue              
 and reviewing the possibility of amending the ethics act.  He                 
 emphasized that if the committee would be willing to finance a                
 professional board, then there should be money available for more             
 staff and research.  In conclusion, Mr. McCune pointed out that the           
 increased usage along with the increased population has increased             
 allocation conflicts.  The best system would benefit all users of             
 this resource.                                                                
 SENATOR LEMAN inquired as to Mr. McCune's knowledge regarding other           
 states' with professional board of fisheries.  JERRY McCUNE said              
 that he would forward that information to him.  Mr. McCune thanked            
 Senator Pearce for offering this legislation.  UFA offered its                
 assistance in working on the system.                                          
 SENATOR LEMAN informed everyone that he understood that Senator               
 Pearce realized this legislation would probably not pass as is, but           
 that it could be used as a vehicle to address necessary Board                 
 MIKE WELLS, commercial fisherman and member of the Valdez Advisory            
 Board, opposed SB 49.  He emphasized that SB 49 discriminates                 
 against commercial fishermen, processors and marketers of Alaska's            
 fishery resources by not allowing their input on the Board.  Their            
 input would be denied by SB 49, but their access and usage of this            
 resource would be affected by the board's decisions.  He explained            
 that a professional board is a contradiction in terms; how can a              
 board member be a professional if the legislation mandates that the           
 member have no knowledge of the issues before the board.  The Board           
 should not be changed.                                                        
 SENATOR LEMAN noted that SB 50 proposes a similar structure to the            
 Board of Game.                                                                
 DON DANIELS, commercial fisherman, opposed SB 49.  He stated that             
 the reasons for opposition had been identified well.                          
 SENATOR LEMAN thanked all those who testified and those who had               
 listened.  He said that when Senator Pearce returned the                      
 subcommittee would discuss SB 49 further.  He reminded everyone               
 that written testimony was welcomed.                                          

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