Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/04/2005 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 126(RES) Out of Committee
Moved SJR 16 Out of Committee
Moved CSHJR 15(RES) Out of Committee
                     SB 126-AQUATIC FARMING                                                                                 
CHAIR WAGONER announced SB 126 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
SENATOR STEDMAN  moved to adopt  CSSB 126(RES), version  F. There                                                               
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       
MARY JACKSON,  staff to Senator Wagoner,  said "acquire ownership                                                               
of"  was deleted  on page  1,  line 1  and  page 3,  line 6,  has                                                               
revisions of the  phrase "on the site". The  original version had                                                               
it at the end of the line and  the CS has it in the middle of the                                                               
TIM  BARRY, staff  to Senator  Stedman, sponsor  of SB  126, said                                                               
this  legislation was  requested  by a  coalition  of the  Alaska                                                               
Department of  Fish and Game  (ADF&G), Southeast  Alaska Regional                                                               
Dive  Fisheries  Association  and the  Alaska  Shellfish  Growers                                                               
Association  that have  been working  for  a number  of years  to                                                               
resolve a number of legal  and management difficulties which have                                                               
prevented  the  development  of  a  fledgling  shellfish  farming                                                               
industry in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                   
     SB 126 amends the state's  Aquatic Farming Act to allow                                                                    
     aquatic  farms to  continue  to  operate in  compliance                                                                    
     with  a Supreme  Court  decision made  last April.  The                                                                    
     State Supreme Court ruled that  the Aquatic Farming Act                                                                    
     requires  the  Department  of Fish  and  Game  to  deny                                                                    
     shellfish farmers  exclusive rights to what  I refer to                                                                    
     as significant  populations of  wild geoducks  on their                                                                    
     proposed farm sites.                                                                                                       
MR.  BARRY  said  since  that   decision,  the  Southeast  Alaska                                                               
Regional Dive  Fish Association  (SARDFA), the  Alaskan Shellfish                                                               
Growers Association  and the Alaska  Department of Fish  and Game                                                               
(ADF&G)  have  negotiated an  agreement  that  would allow  these                                                               
farmers  to  harvest  insignificant populations  of  the  geoduck                                                               
clams on their  sites without having to replace  them. It defines                                                               
an "insignificant  population" as  one that  would not  support a                                                               
commercial fishery.  He said  it should have  a zero  fiscal note                                                               
from the ADF&G.                                                                                                                 
3:41:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATORS BEN STEVENS, SEEKINS AND GUESS joined the committee.                                                                   
3:42:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  said Amendment  1 addressed  a fairly  broad title                                                               
and asked if it was going to be offered.                                                                                        
MR.  BARRY explained  that the  changes in  the CS  were made  to                                                               
conform the Senate  version to the House version.  A title change                                                               
was made in the House an hour  ago. This amendment was made in an                                                               
effort to  keep up with  what they are  doing and there  was some                                                               
concern about a broad title.                                                                                                    
3:43:42 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  FUHS said  he represents  PAC  Alaska, one  of the  pioneer                                                               
farming operations.  He supported  the CS  and the  amendment. He                                                               
pointed  out that  language  in section  (f) on  page  2 is  very                                                               
convoluted and needs clarification.                                                                                             
     This does not  mean that Fish and Game  can authorize a                                                                    
     commercial  fishing  operation  on a  farm  after  it's                                                                    
     planted and  has been granted. What  this language does                                                                    
     is it allows them to say,  'Okay, we're going to set an                                                                    
     insignificant  level.'  Now  if   we  made  a  mistake,                                                                    
     despite all of our best  efforts to make sure there are                                                                    
     insignificant  stocks  on  there, and  then  by  chance                                                                    
     there's  more  than  that, this  allows  the  state  to                                                                    
     assess  what's essentially  a  windfall  profit tax  on                                                                    
3:46:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FUHS explained that it is a common-sense solution to say:                                                                   
     The farmers will  pay the 3% like everybody  else up to                                                                    
     12,000 lbs, or whatever the  amount is set. That's what                                                                    
     Fish and  Game has said  they are  going to set  it at.                                                                    
     We'll see  what happens  in those regulations  and then                                                                    
     after that,  you'll pay a super  tax of 10 times  or 15                                                                    
     times the amount  that would normally be  paid and then                                                                    
     that money could  be used to replant  other areas. This                                                                    
     is an  attempt to address the  constitutional issues of                                                                    
     the  common property  resource. It  is limited  only by                                                                    
     the common property resource.                                                                                              
     The  limited entry  when  the constitutional  amendment                                                                    
     went in  and then it  also said 'and for  the efficient                                                                    
     development  of  aquaculture.'  It's never  real  clear                                                                    
     what  that section  means. We  know what  limited entry                                                                    
     means; we have  that. So, it's the  tension around this                                                                    
     constitutional  issue  - is  why  that  language is  in                                                                    
3:46:25 PM                                                                                                                    
ROGER PAINTER,  Alaskan Shellfish Growers  Association, supported                                                               
CSSB  126(RES)  wholeheartedly.  He  said  it  is  vital  to  the                                                               
industry and has  been thoroughly gone over by  the Department of                                                               
3:47:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON asked  why shellfish  farming is  an insignificant                                                               
threat  to wild  stock and  the  environment and  how it  differs                                                               
fundamentally from open ocean finfish farming.                                                                                  
MR.  PAINTER   replied  that  the  biggest   difference  is  that                                                               
shellfish are not  mobile. Most are kept inside  cages.  Geoducks                                                               
burrow  and  can go  up  and  down,  but  can't move  around.  In                                                               
addition,  the  state  has stringent  controls  on  genetics  and                                                               
diseases. Growers are  required to get brood stock  from the wild                                                               
in the  area that  the shellfish are  being grown.  All shellfish                                                               
are  inspected   for  diseases   before  going   to  a   farm  or                                                               
transferring to another site.                                                                                                   
3:50:05 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  BEDFORD, Deputy  Commissioner, Alaska  Department of  Fish                                                               
and  Game (ADF&G),  supported CSSB  126(RES).  He said  shellfish                                                               
mariculture  has  substantial  promise  for  the  state  and  the                                                               
private sector. It has been  prevented from growing to the extent                                                               
that it  can in  large measure  because of  the question  of what                                                               
kind of access  a shellfish grower has to  common property stock.                                                               
A  Superior  Court  decision informed  the  department  that  the                                                               
constitution  required  it  to provide  access  to  insignificant                                                               
amounts of shellfish to shellfish  farmers. Then, a Supreme Court                                                               
decision said the  department couldn't do that  because it didn't                                                               
have  statutory   authority.  SB  126  remedies   both  of  those                                                               
problems.  It   gives  the   department  authority   and  defines                                                               
insignificant stock.                                                                                                            
3:52:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER asked how long it takes for a geoduck to mature.                                                                  
MR. BEDFORD replied five to seven years.                                                                                        
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked why  on page 1,  line 9,  deletes "acquire                                                               
ownership of".                                                                                                                  
3:53:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BEDFORD replied  that as originally drafted you  could have a                                                               
situation in  which a farmer  would get a  lease for a  farm site                                                               
and acquire ownership  of the stock; he would  then surrender the                                                               
lease and  still own the stock.  He wanted to avoid  that type of                                                               
situation. The department wants the  farmer to be able to harvest                                                               
a small  amount of stock in  the course of his  business, but not                                                               
to own the farm site.                                                                                                           
SENATOR SEEKINS added that he  understands that transfer of title                                                               
to  a  wild stock  of  anything  under  settle  law would  be  at                                                               
harvest.  He asked  if they  are not  precluding the  farmer from                                                               
taking title to  the ownership of the stock when  he harvests it,                                                               
but not before it's harvested.                                                                                                  
MR. BEDFORD replied that was correct.                                                                                           
3:55:34 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIE  DECKER,   Executive  Director,  Southeast   Regional  Dive                                                               
Fisheries  Association, supported  CSSB 126(RES).  It has  helped                                                               
resolve a six-year controversy over  who gets to harvest the wild                                                               
standing stocks of geoducks on farm sites.                                                                                      
3:56:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  moved to adopt  Amendment 1 to CSSB  126(RES) to                                                               
delete  line 1  on page  2  and to  insert, "An  Act relating  to                                                               
aquatic  plant  and  shellfish  farming;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."  There were  no objections  and Amendment  1 was                                                               
SENATOR DYSON  moved to  pass CSSB  126(RES) from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  and attached fiscal note.  There were                                                               
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            

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