Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/08/1999 05:09 PM House FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                                    
                   March 8, 1999                                                                                                
                     5:09 p.m.                                                                                                  
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
Representative Bill Hudson, Chairman                                                                                            
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
Representative Carl Morgan                                                                                                      
Representative Mary Kapsner                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
Representative Harold Smalley                                                                                                   
Representative John Harris                                                                                                      
Representative Fred Dyson                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
* HOUSE BILL NO. 104                                                                                                            
"An Act revising the procedures and authority of the Alaska                                                                     
Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Board of Fisheries, and                                                              
the Department of Fish and Game to establish a moratorium on                                                                    
participants or vessels, or both, participating in certain                                                                      
fisheries; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 104 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                          
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 2                                                                                              
Relating to management of Alaska's wildlife and fish resources.                                                                 
     - MOVED SCR 2 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
(* First public hearing)                                                                                                        
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                                 
BILL: HB 104                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: ENTRY MORATORIA ON PARTICIPANTS/VESSELS                                                                            
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) HUDSON, Austerman                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 2/19/99       260     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                                                                   
 2/19/99       260     (H)  FSH, RES                                                                                            
 3/08/99               (H)  FSH AT  5:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                         
BILL: SCR  2                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: MANAGEMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE                                                                                      
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) TAYLOR                                                                                                   
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 1/22/99        64     (S)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                                                                   
 1/22/99        65     (S)  RES                                                                                                 
 2/03/99               (S)  RES AT  3:00 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205                                                                  
 2/03/99               (S)  SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                             
 2/03/99               (S)  MINUTE(RES)                                                                                         
 2/08/99               (S)  RES AT  3:00 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205                                                                  
 2/08/99               (S)  MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                              
 2/08/99               (S)  MINUTE(RES)                                                                                         
 2/10/99       199     (S)  RES RPT  3DP 3NR                                                                                    
 2/10/99       199     (S)  DP: HALFORD, GREEN, PETE KELLY;                                                                     
 2/10/99       199     (S)  NR: MACKIE, PARNELL, LINCOLN                                                                        
 2/10/99       199     (S)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (S.RES)                                                                            
 2/11/99               (S)  RLS AT 11:30 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203                                                                   
 2/11/99               (S)  MINUTE(RLS)                                                                                         
 2/16/99       257     (S)  RULES TO CALENDAR AND 1OR 2/17/99                                                                   
 2/17/99       272     (S)  READ THE SECOND TIME                                                                                
 2/17/99       272     (S)  PASSED Y15 N5                                                                                       
 2/17/99       276     (S)  TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                  
 2/19/99       247     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                                                                   
 2/19/99       247     (H)  FISHERIES, RESOURCES                                                                                
 3/08/99               (H)  FSH AT  5:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                         
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH CABRERA, Researcher                                                                                                   
     for Representative Bill Hudson                                                                                             
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 108                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
Telephone:  (907) 465-6890                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided the sponsor statement for HB 104.                                                                 
MARY McDOWELL, Commissioner                                                                                                     
Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC)                                                                                    
Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                                              
8800 Glacier Highway, Suite 109                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska  99801-8079                                                                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 789-6160                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony in support of HB 104 on                                                                 
                      behalf of CFEC.                                                                                           
AMY DAUGHERTY                                                                                                                   
Pacific Associates, Inc.                                                                                                        
234 Gold Street                                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
Telephone:  (907) 586-3107                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony in support of HB 104.                                                                   
Joe Kyle                                                                                                                        
Pacific Associates, Inc.                                                                                                        
234 Gold Street                                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
Telephone:  (907) 586-3107                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony in support of HB 104.                                                                   
GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)                                                                                      
P.O. Box 25526                                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska  99802-5526                                                                                                      
Telephone:  (907) 465-6143                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on behalf of the ADF&G in                                                               
                     support of HB 104, and testified on SCR 2.                                                                 
RAYMOND J. CAMPBELL                                                                                                             
P.O. Box 23216                                                                                                                  
Ketchikan, Alaska  99901-3216                                                                                                   
Telephone:  (907) 247-3626                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony in opposition to HB 104.                                                                
DONALD WESTLUND                                                                                                                 
P.O. Box 871                                                                                                                    
Ward Cove, Alaska  99928                                                                                                        
Telephone:  (907) 225-9319                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on both HB 104 and SCR 2.                                                               
GERRY MERRIGAN                                                                                                                  
Petersburg Vessel Owners Association                                                                                            
P.O. Box 232                                                                                                                    
Petersburg, Alaska  99833                                                                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 772-9323                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony in support of HB 104.                                                                   
DALE BONDURANT                                                                                                                  
31864 Moonshine Drive                                                                                                           
Soldotna, Alaska  99669                                                                                                         
Telephone:  (907) 262-0818                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on both HB 104 and SCR 2.                                                               
WAYNE REGELIN, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Wildlife Conservation                                                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                                              
P.O. Box 25526                                                                                                                  
Juneau, AK  99802-5526                                                                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-4190                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on behalf of ADF&G on SCR
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-03, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN BILL HUDSON called the House Special Committee on                                                                      
Fisheries meeting to order at 5:09 p.m.  Members present at the                                                                 
call to order were Representatives Hudson, Whitaker, Morgan and                                                                 
HB 104 - ENTRY MORATORIA ON PARTICIPANTS/VESSELS                                                                                
Number 0125                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the first order of business was House                                                                 
Bill No. 104, "An Act revising the procedures and authority of the                                                              
Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Board of                                                                      
Fisheries, and the Department of Fish and Game to establish a                                                                   
moratorium on participants or vessels, or both, participating in                                                                
certain fisheries; and providing for an effective date."                                                                        
CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced there is a committee substitute for House                                                             
Bill No. 104, and asked for a motion to adopt it.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER made a motion to adopt the proposed                                                                     
committee substitute for HB 104 [1-LS0394-I, Utermohle, 03/08/99].                                                              
There being no objection, it was so adopted.                                                                                    
CHAIRMAN HUDSON called on Elizabeth Cabrera, staff to                                                                           
Representative Hudson who is the sponsor of HB 104, to present the                                                              
sponsor statement.                                                                                                              
Number 0199                                                                                                                     
ELIZABETH CABRERA, Researcher, Representative Bill Hudson, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, read the following sponsor statement into the                                                                
     HB 104 amends the existing moratorium law to provide for a                                                                 
     streamlined and effective process to better manage Alaska's                                                                
     fisheries resources.  The current process involves multiple                                                                
     steps whereby a fisherman seeking a moratorium must first go                                                               
     to the Commissioner of Fish and Game, who, in turn, must seek                                                              
     authorization from the Board of Fisheries.  If the Fish Board                                                              
     authorizes the Commissioner to go forward, the Commissioner                                                                
     may then petition CFEC (Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission)                                                             
     to provide a moratorium.  CFEC is then authorized to go                                                                    
     forward if it can make findings as required by statute.                                                                    
     Unfortunately, the standards set forth in statute are                                                                      
     difficult to understand and mutually inconsistent.                                                                         
     HB 104 allows petitioners to request a moratorium directly                                                                 
     from CFEC.  A moratorium would be established if CFEC found                                                                
     that it was necessary "to promote the conservation and                                                                     
     sustained yield management of the resource and the economic                                                                
     health and stability of commercial fishing in the state."  The                                                             
     purpose of a moratorium is to quickly put a lid on                                                                         
     participation levels in order to buy time to develop better                                                                
     management tools.                                                                                                          
     HB 104 authorizes CFEC to implement a moratorium on entry of                                                               
     new vessels into a fishery as well as participants.  This new                                                              
     authority provides an additional management tool where there                                                               
     are a number of different skippers used on one vessel.                                                                     
     Additionally, HB 104 allows the state to extend its moratorium                                                             
     authority to offshore fisheries adjacent to state waters when                                                              
     consistent with federal law.                                                                                               
     The committee substitute specifically differs from the                                                                     
     original bill by authorizing CFEC to extend the moratorium on                                                              
     both the Korean hair crab and weathervane scallop fisheries.                                                               
     Also, I would note that a similar bill passed the House last                                                               
     session with overwhelming support.  Improving the moratorium                                                               
     law is consistent with our concern for developing and                                                                      
     protecting jobs, as well as streamlining government and                                                                    
     resource protection.                                                                                                       
Number 0378                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if there were questions regarding the sponsor                                                             
statement.  Hearing none, he opened the meeting to public                                                                       
Number 0459                                                                                                                     
MARY McDOWELL, Commissioner, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission                                                              
(CFEC),  Alaska Department of Fish and Game, provided testimony in                                                              
support of HB 104 on behalf of CFEC.  It is the belief of CFEC, she                                                             
stressed, that having a workable moratorium statute is very                                                                     
important for sound management of the fisheries.  She explained                                                                 
that the moratorium provisions currently in statute are so                                                                      
cumbersome that they are counterproductive, and could result in                                                                 
harm to a fishery by generating "a rush" of new participants.  She                                                              
informed the committee that HB 104 would create a workable process                                                              
whereby massive growth could be temporarily controlled in a quickly                                                             
developing fishery.  This would allow time to work with the Alaska                                                              
Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), the Board of Fisheries and                                                                 
individuals involved in the fishery to assess the best route for                                                                
the future.                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked whether a moratorium was for purposes of                                                                  
biological conservation or to "save the scales of economy of those                                                              
who participate in the fisheries."                                                                                              
Number 0600                                                                                                                     
MS. McDOWELL responded that the two mandates of a limited entry act                                                             
are conservation of the resource and protecting the economic health                                                             
of the fishery itself.  She explained that a moratorium is an                                                                   
interim step to "getting a handle on" a fishery while assessing                                                                 
whether limitation is the way to go.                                                                                            
CHAIRMAN HUDSON sought clarification as to whether HB 104 would                                                                 
simply streamline CFEC's existing authority to employ a moratorium.                                                             
MS. McDOWELL said yes.  She added that the current provision for                                                                
employing a moratorium is a convoluted process, involving                                                                       
petitioning the Commissioner of ADF&G, who would then go to the                                                                 
Board of Fisheries "if and when they can get on the agenda."  The                                                               
Board of Fisheries would then sanction the Commissioner of ADF&G to                                                             
approach CFEC to request a moratorium.  She stressed that this                                                                  
process would take so much time that it is equivalent to waving a                                                               
flag and telling individuals, "You might want to rush into this                                                                 
fishery because we might be putting a lid on it."  This would be                                                                
absolutely the opposite of want CFEC would want to do at that                                                                   
particular point, she said.  She clarified that CFEC would continue                                                             
to work with ADF&G and the Board of Fisheries in this process, but                                                              
HB 104 would allow anyone to come directly to CFEC to petition the                                                              
CHAIRMAN HUDSON next introduced Amy Daugherty, former legislative                                                               
assistant to Representative Alan Austerman, and former House                                                                    
Special Committee on Fisheries committee aide for four years.                                                                   
Number 0788                                                                                                                     
AMY DAUGHERTY, Pacific Associates, Inc., came forward to testify in                                                             
support of HB 104.  She is currently working on the Korean hair                                                                 
crab vessel moratorium and the scallop moratorium.  She indicated                                                               
that the language in the proposed committee substitute was clear                                                                
and specific.  She expressed support for the bill in its entirety,                                                              
but particularly supported the provision to extend the moratorium.                                                              
Number 0869                                                                                                                     
JOE KYLE, Pacific Associates, Inc., came forward to testify in                                                                  
support of HB 104.  He mentioned that he is a member of the North                                                               
Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), but he clarified that                                                               
he was not speaking on their behalf.  He declared that anything                                                                 
that could be done to give better management tools to ADF&G or CFEC                                                             
would protect the interests of Alaska.  He stipulated that many                                                                 
things overlap and intertwine between state and federal fishery                                                                 
management; however, the federal fishery managers in Alaska are                                                                 
currently in better shape with their budget than the state fishery                                                              
MR. KYLE added that there are times, from his perspective as a                                                                  
member of NPFMC, when the state could be delegated more power over                                                              
some of the fisheries, but not having the management tools in place                                                             
acts as an inhibitor to that.  He reminded the committee that HB
104 had a zero fiscal note, and would give the state fishery                                                                    
managers improved tools to manage their fisheries.  He stressed                                                                 
that the greatest issue currently facing fishery management                                                                     
worldwide is overcapitalization.  If the state is not able to                                                                   
address that issue in a timely and productive manner, he added,                                                                 
federal fisheries organizations may preempt state fishery issues.                                                               
He urged the committee to move HB 104 as a means of giving the                                                                  
state of Alaska the ability to take control of its destiny with                                                                 
regard to state fisheries.                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if anyone from ADF&G would like to testify.                                                               
Number 1049                                                                                                                     
GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Commissioner,                                                                   
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, came forward to testify on                                                                  
behalf of ADF&G in support of HB 104, and he explained that ADF&G                                                               
worked with CFEC to develop it.  He stated he was available to                                                                  
answer any questions.                                                                                                           
Number 1122                                                                                                                     
RAYMOND CAMPBELL testified via teleconference from Ketchikan in                                                                 
opposition to HB 104.  He felt that HB 104 seemed to be a                                                                       
resurgence of HB 204 in 1998, and he referred to it as "the Santa                                                               
Claus program."  He argued, "The Commercial Fisheries Entry                                                                     
Commission (CFEC) wants the process of giving away our resources                                                                
streamlined so they can be Santa Claus and give our resources away                                                              
to people that got their hand out and want something for nothing.                                                               
We've had a bill -- we put our dive fisheries in Southeast in a                                                                 
moratorium here about three years ago, and we put people out of                                                                 
business who were actively fishing in those fisheries, and we                                                                   
allowed people to come into the fisheries that had never touched                                                                
urchins before, and never touched some of the other fisheries...                                                                
I think this is a bad bill.  If it goes through, I would like to                                                                
see it changed like the bill in last session which was 204.  I'd                                                                
like to see the transferability of permits be eliminated, and I                                                                 
think, if you took the transferability of permits out of it and                                                                 
made it into a 'not a give-away' program, I think the support would                                                             
dry up."                                                                                                                        
Number 1225                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON noted that he worked on a bill last year to try to                                                              
open up the urchin dive fishery, and he asked if that was working                                                               
at the present time.                                                                                                            
MR. CAMPBELL replied, "Not for the people who were diving and got                                                               
cut out.  It hasn't worked for me.  It financially destroyed me...                                                              
I was down here diving for urchins and I was thrown out of the                                                                  
fishery so people who had never touched an urchin before could have                                                             
the opportunity to do it, and this bill right here is going to give                                                             
CFEC the right to give people the opportunity to go into a                                                                      
moratorium who have never been in a moratorium before, and it will                                                              
give them the right to cut people who are fishing in a fishery out,                                                             
so people who haven't been in the fishery can get into it, just                                                                 
like it happened with the dive fisheries here in Southeast."                                                                    
CHAIRMAN HUDSON declared he did not believe that would be the end                                                               
result of this legislation; rather, HB 104 is aimed at the Korean                                                               
hair crab and scallop industries.  He added, "I don't think that                                                                
it's going to provide any more effort for mischief on the part of                                                               
CFEC in the dive fisheries down here."  He asked Mary McDowell from                                                             
CFEC to again come forward to address Mr. Campbell's concerns.                                                                  
Number 1340                                                                                                                     
MS. McDOWELL advised the dive moratorium was not imposed by the                                                                 
CFEC, but by legislative statute.  She explained that there was a                                                               
provision inserted in that legislation, by the legislature, that                                                                
allowed some fishermen who had not yet participated in certain                                                                  
species to participate in all dive fisheries during the moratorium.                                                             
She explained that an individual needed to have participated a                                                                  
certain number of years in a dive fishery to be "grandfathered in"                                                              
to other species.                                                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HUDSON reiterated that the dive moratorium was a                                                                       
legislative action, and he asked Ms. McDowell if she saw anything                                                               
in HB 104 that would adversely affect Mr. Campbell's interest in                                                                
getting involved in the dive fisheries.                                                                                         
MS. McDOWELL said she did not.  The only connection between the                                                                 
dive moratorium and HB 104, she explained, was that the committee                                                               
substitute of HB 104 would provide for the ability to extend Korean                                                             
hair crab and scallop fishery moratoriums for two more years, if                                                                
that much time was needed to gather data and decide upon a course.                                                              
She stressed that it was the belief of CFEC that a sound public                                                                 
process, where the fishermen are involved in establishing the rules                                                             
through the regular public process, is a good way to go.                                                                        
CHAIRMAN HUDSON invited Mr. Campbell to send him his written                                                                    
observations, and his concerns would be addressed.  However, he                                                                 
pointed out that he did not believe HB 104 would have any affect on                                                             
the issues Mr. Campbell raised.                                                                                                 
Number 1514                                                                                                                     
MR. CAMPBELL agreed to do that.  He further addressed a question to                                                             
CFEC, "Does that mean, if this bill goes through, they won't be                                                                 
able to extend the moratorium on dive fisheries for another two                                                                 
years?  It seems to me like you...you are saying that it is                                                                     
directed at the Korean hair crab and the scallop fishery, but it                                                                
seemed to me like the dive fisheries would be in there, too."                                                                   
MS. McDOWELL explained there was nothing in HB 104 that would                                                                   
prohibit CFEC from extending the dive moratorium for two additional                                                             
years; however, she stressed that CFEC would never want to use an                                                               
extension provision unless there was a very specific reason for                                                                 
doing so.  She added, "People need certainty in their lives and we                                                              
know that.  At a certain point, you need to make a decision and let                                                             
people know whether they are in or out of a fishery and get on with                                                             
it, so we'd be very careful about extending any moratorium any                                                                  
longer than we absolutely needed to."                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN HUDSON once again reassured Mr. Campbell that they would                                                               
look into his written concerns, perhaps communicating through                                                                   
Representative Carl Morgan's office.  He invited the next witness                                                               
on teleconference to testify.                                                                                                   
Number 1639                                                                                                                     
DONALD WESTLUND testified via teleconference from Ketchikan on HB
104.  He mentioned he had some concerns, but added that CFEC really                                                             
needs some type of moratorium that is quick and responsive.  He                                                                 
cited his personal experience of having just gone through the                                                                   
issuance of shrimp limitations, and attending three public meetings                                                             
on this issue.  He related that there were 187 active fishermen at                                                              
the first meeting he attended.  The next meeting had an attendance                                                              
of 243, and the following year there were 332.  He stressed that                                                                
some type of stabilization of the fishery was needed when                                                                       
petitioners file a petition with CFEC and "get a stop."  He argued                                                              
that ADF&G should not, as was done in his area, advertise, "If you                                                              
have not fished in this year, you need to make a delivery so you                                                                
can fish in the next coming year or you will have a moratorium or                                                               
you will not be able to fish."  He indicated that some type of                                                                  
ground rules were needed, and that a moratorium would help in                                                                   
certain circumstances.                                                                                                          
Number 1769                                                                                                                     
MR. WESTLUND continued by stating that there was a five-month                                                                   
fishery originally and historically, and some years it is a                                                                     
five-week season.  Stability of the fishery is needed, he stressed,                                                             
and parts of the limited entry buy-back program should be addressed                                                             
as well.  He argued that there are too many participants in a                                                                   
fishery, almost double the number in his case, and that something                                                               
needs to be done.                                                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HUDSON reassured the witness that the committee was                                                                    
looking for ways to streamline the public process, and give the                                                                 
needed tools to CFEC and others to balance conservation with the                                                                
economy.  He agreed that too many participants in a fishery would,                                                              
not only not make money, but deplete the resources; however, he                                                                 
added that this has not always been easy to balance.                                                                            
Number 1880                                                                                                                     
GERRY MERRIGAN, Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, testified via                                                             
teleconference from Petersburg on behalf of his organization.  He                                                               
indicated that they would generally endorse HB 104 as providing two                                                             
new tools, one being a more timely way to institute moratoriums.                                                                
The other benefit from HB 104, he added, would be "adding in                                                                    
vessels in cases where if you limited, say, permit holders, you                                                                 
might be increasing the harvesting capacity by giving it to the                                                                 
skippers...The larger-vessel fisheries, such as hair crab, you                                                                  
might be increasing the catching power."  He summarized by stating                                                              
that HB 104 should move forward.                                                                                                
Number 1950                                                                                                                     
DALE BONDURANT testified via teleconference from Soldotna.  He                                                                  
stated he thought there was a problem in our fisheries with                                                                     
overcapitalization; although, he admitted that he did not know how                                                              
HB 104 would deal with this issue.  He pointed out that the Board                                                               
of Fisheries passed a resolution last year addressing                                                                           
overcapitalization; however, he was told at a meeting in the                                                                    
Soldotna/Kenai area that the legislature "black-holed it."  He                                                                  
urged the legislature to institute a program that would not expand                                                              
the fisheries anymore, and to recognize their responsibility to                                                                 
protect the users of these resources.                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN HUDSON thanked the witness for his testimony, and                                                                      
expressed understanding of his concerns.  He clarified that HB 104                                                              
related more towards streamlining bureaucracy by instituting a                                                                  
process whereby CFEC would possess moratorium capabilities.  He                                                                 
reassured Mr. Bondurant that the committee would be open to looking                                                             
into his concerns at a future date.                                                                                             
Hearing no further questions from committee members or further                                                                  
testimony from witnesses, CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked to entertain a                                                                  
motion to move the committee substitute for HB 104 out of the                                                                   
Number 2139                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER made a motion to move CS HB 104 out of                                                                  
committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero                                                                 
fiscal note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                      
SCR  2 - MANAGEMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE                                                                                          
Number 2172                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the next order of business to be SCR 2,                                                               
relating to management of Alaska's wildlife and fish resources.  He                                                             
called on Mel Krogseng, staff to Senator Robin Taylor who is                                                                    
sponsor of SCR 2, to present the sponsor statement.                                                                             
MEL KROGSENG, Legislative Assistant to Senator Robin Taylor, Alaska                                                             
State Legislature, read the following sponsor statement into the                                                                
record on behalf of Senator Taylor:                                                                                             
     Mr. Chairman, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 2 is similar to                                                             
     the resolution passed by the legislature last year, which,                                                                 
     incidently, bore the same number.  It is intended to send a                                                                
     strong message to the governor, the Board of Fisheries, the                                                                
     Board of Game, and the Department of Fish and Game, that you,                                                              
     the legislature, want the wildlife and fish resources of our                                                               
     state to be aggressively biologically managed on a                                                                         
     sustained-yield basis for abundance.                                                                                       
     Mr. Chairman, over the past few years, we have seen a decline                                                              
     in several of our wildlife and fish stocks in certain areas.                                                               
     This decline has continued to the point where serious                                                                      
     shortages currently exist and are continuing unabated.  Last                                                               
     year, before the House Resources Committee, there was                                                                      
     testimony about moose shortages from an Angie Morgan of Aniak;                                                             
     also from a William Miller of Dot Lake who testified that                                                                  
     there were moose and caribou shortages in his area.                                                                        
     There are ongoing shortages in fish stocks in several areas as                                                             
     well.  Bristol Bay has been considered a disaster area for the                                                             
     last two years.  In 1997, the Kenai River had only a few coho                                                              
     salmon, and just this past year the Kenai was closed down June                                                             
     5th to catch-and-release for Chinook salmon.  The Mat-Su                                                                   
     streams have had ongoing shortages in coho, sockeye, chum and                                                              
     Chinook stocks.  Cook Inlet commercial fishing was closed                                                                  
     early this past year due to a low sockeye run.                                                                             
     Management of these resources was delegated to the Board of                                                                
     Fisheries, the Board of Game and the Department of Fish and                                                                
     Game by the legislature.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon the                                                              
     legislature to tell these agencies the management philosophy                                                               
     that you want followed.  This resolution will send that                                                                    
     message, and it is a crystal clear message, Mr. Chairman, that                                                             
     the legislature wants these resources biologically managed on                                                              
     a sustained-yield basis for abundance.                                                                                     
     Sustained-yield, Mr. Chairman, but what do we really mean?  I                                                              
     would like to quote from the Alaska Constitutional Convention                                                              
     Proceedings, page 2451:  "We have in mind no narrow definition                                                             
     of 'sustained yield' as is used, for example, in forestry, but                                                             
     the broad premise that insofar as possible, a principle of                                                                 
     sustained yield shall be used with respect to administration                                                               
     of those resources which are susceptible of sustained yield,                                                               
     and where it is desirable.  For example, predators would not                                                               
     be maintained on a sustained-yield basis."  Mr. Chairman, if                                                               
     we had an abundance of wildlife and fish resources in our                                                                  
     state, that would go a long way towards help[ing] solving the                                                              
     ongoing subsistence issue, as there would be enough of these                                                               
     resources for all user groups.                                                                                             
Number 2346                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked if it was the sponsor's intent to                                                                  
state that the subsistence dilemma is based on current shortage of                                                              
MS. KROGSENG replied, "It is the Senator's feeling that if we had                                                               
an abundance of resources we might not be faced with this issue at                                                              
this time."                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER indicated it was her understanding that                                                                  
subsistence users only use about three percent of the current                                                                   
resource, whether it is abundant or not.                                                                                        
MS. KROGSENG stated she could not respond to that since she did not                                                             
know those figures, but she reiterated her previous statement that                                                              
an abundance of fish and wildlife resources in the state would go                                                               
a long way in helping resolve the subsistence issue.                                                                            
Number 2404                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if the bill before the committee was still                                                                
the original SCR No. 2.                                                                                                         
MS. KROGSENG confirmed that it was the original draft and that                                                                  
there have been no revisions to it.                                                                                             
CHAIRMAN HUDSON questioned whether the sponsor statement was                                                                    
MS. KROGSENG confirmed the sponsor statement was revised.  She                                                                  
explained this was done because the original sponsor statement                                                                  
included a comment regarding fish escapement, and there was some                                                                
concern that the Bristol Bay situation was being blamed on                                                                      
inadequate escapement.  In order to eliminate any confusion,                                                                    
therefore, the sponsor statement was rewritten by simply taking                                                                 
that reference out.                                                                                                             
CHAIRMAN HUDSON sought clarification that this change in the                                                                    
sponsor statement did not require any modification of the                                                                       
resolution itself.                                                                                                              
MS. KROGSENG indicated that she did not believe the change in the                                                               
sponsor statement affected the resolution at all.                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if there were any audience members present                                                                
from ADF&G who wished to comment on SCR 2.                                                                                      
Number 2480                                                                                                                     
MR. BRUCE from ADF&G again came forward.  He stated he was not                                                                  
prepared to make any specific testimony on SCR 2; however, he                                                                   
referred to a graph that he had previously provided the committee                                                               
showing commercial salmon harvest in the state from 1878 to 1998.                                                               
He felt that the graph illustrated the difficulty in talking about                                                              
exactly what abundance means, because, even with the recent                                                                     
downturns in 1997 and 1998, Alaska's commercial salmon harvest are                                                              
still enjoying all-time high production levels.  He admitted that                                                               
specific stocks in some regions of the state are weak, and ADF&G is                                                             
concerned about those.  Western Alaska, the Yukon River and                                                                     
Kuskokwin River are areas of specific concern.  He confirmed the                                                                
previous statement that sometimes fluctuations in population are                                                                
not due to management.  For example, escapement goals were achieved                                                             
in Bristol Bay; however, that did not result in the survivals that                                                              
were expected.  Many complex factors can affect the survival of                                                                 
fish and wildlife in the natural environment, he added, and these                                                               
factors cannot always be predicted.                                                                                             
MR. BRUCE reported that salmon is the most important and abundant                                                               
fish species to recreational, subsistence and commercial users, and                                                             
that populations are generally large.  There are, however, notable                                                              
exceptions in some areas, for which ADF&G has implemented very                                                                  
severe conservation measures, often resulting in difficulty for the                                                             
people in those areas.  He explained that ADF&G is trying to get                                                                
the assistance of the federal government to focus research on the                                                               
Bering Sea, as there are indications that environmental conditions                                                              
there are changing and may not be as conducive to salmon survival                                                               
and production now as it was in the 1980s and early 1990s.                                                                      
Number 2634                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MORGAN commented that he noticed from the graph that                                                             
the number of catches keeps going up until it hits a peak.  He                                                                  
pointed out that people have become experts at getting fish due to                                                              
increased technology:  bigger and faster boats, sonar, planes with                                                              
spotters, and bigger nets.  He cautioned that record numbers cannot                                                             
continue to be taken, and that a time will come when the state will                                                             
have to realize that they are harvesting too many fish.  He                                                                     
acknowledged that record numbers looks good for the economy of the                                                              
state of Alaska, but he expressed concern that there were no                                                                    
reports of record numbers of escapement.  He questioned whether                                                                 
simply reaching escapement was biologically sound.                                                                              
MR. BRUCE agreed, and stated that escapement is the most important                                                              
factor and the basis of ADF&G's approach to managing salmon.  He                                                                
reported that every system does not have use of the same tools to                                                               
determine escapement; for example, Bristol Bay has a better set of                                                              
tools than others.  Achieving escapement goals is the aim of the                                                                
salmon management program, he added, and is one of the few things                                                               
that can be controlled.  Due to the size of the state, however, it                                                              
is very expensive to get all the information.                                                                                   
Number 2768                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MORGAN called attention to the fact that no one                                                                  
really knows what is a "safe level" of escapement.  He said, "When                                                              
we leave it to Mother Nature, she tends to rebound, but when we                                                                 
leave it to us and we overtake, we usually hurt it beyond a point                                                               
that Mother Nature is hurt, and I don't want to get to that stage.                                                              
I want to be at the safe level that we always have a fishery which                                                              
helps all users (subsistence, commercial, sports) and have                                                                      
everybody happy, and I think we better start looking that way                                                                   
Number 2810                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER noted SCR 2 relates to the notion of                                                                    
management for abundance.  He explained that Alaska's Constitution                                                              
is very explicit in stating we must manage for attainment of the                                                                
goal of sustained yield.  He asked Mr. Bruce if he could                                                                        
differentiate his interpretation of those two concepts.  He added,                                                              
"Are they one and same or are they different?"                                                                                  
MR. BRUCE indicated he interprets abundance to be a high level of                                                               
production, along the lines of a maximum sustained yield concept;                                                               
however, sustained yield has a wide range of interpretation.  He                                                                
explained that it was possible to have sustained yield at a very                                                                
low level of production if the population is maintaining itself and                                                             
producing some yield.  He referred to a term used in fisheries                                                                  
management, optimum yield, which considers other things besides                                                                 
biological factors, such as economic factors, in determining the                                                                
amount of yield desired.  For example, a recreational fishery might                                                             
not be managed for maximum sustained yield, but rather optimum                                                                  
sustained yield, by putting more fish into a river than actually                                                                
needed for spawning, in order to improve the opportunity for sport                                                              
fishermen to have a good experience.  He defined sustained yield as                                                             
ranging all the way from a maximum level down to a low level                                                                    
allowing the population to maintain itself but yield little                                                                     
Number 2902                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER asked for clarification.  He said, "Correct                                                             
me if I'm hearing you wrongly -- that sustained yield does not                                                                  
necessarily mean that there is a benefit for people.  Did I hear                                                                
that correctly?"                                                                                                                
MR. BRUCE explained it is possible to achieve a yield from a                                                                    
population at a very low level, not anywhere near what it could be,                                                             
due to a very small or limited harvest.  There might be some                                                                    
surplus available for harvest, but it might be extremely small, and                                                             
it might be taken incidental to other fisheries.  He said he did                                                                
not mean to imply that it was possible to have sustained yield                                                                  
without any use.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER referred to the Alaska State Constitution,                                                              
Sections 8.1 and 8.2, which indicate that resources will be managed                                                             
for the maximum benefit of the people of the state of Alaska.                                                                   
Tape 99-03, Side B                                                                                                              
Number 0030                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Wayne Regelin, Director of the Division of                                                                
Wildlife Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to join                                                              
Mr. Bruce at the table.  He then asked both gentlemen if they felt                                                              
ADF&G is managing both fish and game for abundance.                                                                             
MR. BRUCE said yes, adding, "on the fish side."                                                                                 
Number 0060                                                                                                                     
WAYNE REGELIN, Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska                                                              
Department of Fish and Game, stated he certainly would not argue                                                                
against managing for abundance; however, there are often several                                                                
species of wildlife in the same area that need to be balanced.  He                                                              
gave the example of managing moose and caribou, and how the                                                                     
department usually has to reduce the abundance of predators like                                                                
wolves and bears.  The goal is to balance healthy populations of                                                                
predators with a yield for human harvest that meets the needs of                                                                
the people, he explained.  He testified that there are some areas                                                               
in Alaska where there are problems, such as managing wolf predation                                                             
of caribou in the 40-mile area by sterilization and by working with                                                             
local trappers.  This resulted in an increase of 30% in that                                                                    
population last year.                                                                                                           
MR. REGELIN also related that there was a prescribed burn of 52,000                                                             
acres in that same area last year to improve moose habitat, and                                                                 
this is the largest prescribed burn that they know of in the                                                                    
nation.  He referred to the "moose problem" in Aniak; namely, a                                                                 
small population of moose, a high level of need, and a high level                                                               
of predators.  Most individuals, he related, would like wildlife                                                                
managed in a balanced way; however, most people also want to make                                                               
sure they get a moose and a caribou every year.  He felt that, in                                                               
most cases, ADF&G succeeded in their goal to be balanced.                                                                       
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if the ADF&G had a position on SCR 2.                                                                     
Number 0172                                                                                                                     
MR. BRUCE testified that ADF&G does not usually take positions on                                                               
resolutions, as they are the "legislature's opinion and its                                                                     
expression of that opinion."  He explained they were there to                                                                   
provide information and a perspective on this issue, but they                                                                   
really were not taking a position on it.                                                                                        
Number 0192                                                                                                                     
MR. REGELIN also stated he would not take a position, and he had                                                                
two additional comments.  He reported that all of the wildlife                                                                  
populations in Alaska are managed on a sustained-yield basis with                                                               
one exception.  They are harvesting the brown bear population in                                                                
the Nelchina area beyond sustained yield, and they are doing so on                                                              
purpose in order to reduce the bear predation on moose and caribou.                                                             
He assured the committee that this is a planned and legal action.                                                               
There are other areas, he added, that are within sustained yield,                                                               
but admittedly low.                                                                                                             
MR. REGELIN next called attention to specific wording in SCR 2 that                                                             
bothered him.  He stated the resolution indicates ADF&G only did                                                                
passive monitoring of wildlife populations, and he disagreed with                                                               
this.  He reported that collecting the needed data on population                                                                
size, productivity, mortality and hunter harvest is essential for                                                               
wildlife management and appropriate wildlife regulations.  This                                                                 
data, he added, needs to be collected on a scheduled basis; it is                                                               
done annually in many areas, and less frequently with some of the                                                               
caribou herds by census.  With regard to moose populations, ADF&G                                                               
tries to do a census in key areas every three to four years, but                                                                
they do trend counts and look at calf production, calf mortality                                                                
and recruitment into the population on an annual basis. He                                                                      
emphasized that this monitoring is key to wildlife and fisheries                                                                
CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked for additional comments or concerns for the                                                               
two witnesses from ADF&G.  Hearing none, he opened the meeting to                                                               
further testimony via teleconference.                                                                                           
Number 0307                                                                                                                     
MR. BONDURANT again addressed the committee via teleconference from                                                             
Soldatna, this time regarding SCR 2.  He said, "I want to stay with                                                             
the fisheries mainly, because that's what I am more familiar with                                                               
and active in in the Cook Inlet area, and I think we have some real                                                             
problems there as far as the -- maintaining the optimum escapement                                                              
goal or the abundance of our fisheries in this area.  If you go                                                                 
back years ago, you'd find a lot different fishery management than                                                              
you do today.  The management today is actually to maintain the                                                                 
maximum sustained yield of one species or stocks in one river, and                                                              
that's the Kenai sockeye, and with that we've jeopardized the                                                                   
Northern District fisheries."  It was his understanding that                                                                    
approximately 40% of the sockeye that came up the Cook Inlet in the                                                             
1940s were from Northern District stocks; however, in 1987 and                                                                  
1992, 9 million sockeye were harvested with only 66,000 put back                                                                
into the river.  He added, "I would say the new management yield                                                                
that they put out is merely a computerized reflection of what they                                                              
did before.  So I think we have to manage the fisheries, especially                                                             
in the Cook Inlet area, on the optimum sustained yield for all the                                                              
different stocks and species there.  One of the stocks that's                                                                   
really bad there is the chum salmon.  Some of those runs are                                                                    
actually bordering on a fact that we're going to have a species                                                                 
that is endangered there."                                                                                                      
MR. BONDURANT concluded by stating it is his contention that the                                                                
fisheries are not being managed for optimum sustained yield for                                                                 
abundance in every discreet stock that goes into the ecosystem.  He                                                             
referred to Representative Morgan's concern about over-escapement.                                                              
He added, "I attended an American Fisheries Institute meeting in                                                                
Juneau about a year ago, and I brought up this over-escapement                                                                  
deal, and they said, 'Are you from the damn Kenai Peninsula?'  So                                                               
there's very few people that believe in this except in the Kenai                                                                
Number 0492                                                                                                                     
MR. WESTLUND was still on line via teleconference from Ketchikan,                                                               
and he asked to speak in support of SCR 2.  He agreed the state                                                                 
should be managing for abundance instead of sustained yield.  He                                                                
referred to the previous comment about smaller stocks, adding, "You                                                             
have small stocks that are doing fair, and you're managing on major                                                             
stocks."  He felt extending fishery periods for maximum sustained                                                               
yield on larger stock could hurt other stocks.  Managing for the                                                                
maximum sustained abundance of all stocks, he emphasized, is better                                                             
for subsistence users, fishermen and sports users of the resource.                                                              
CHAIRMAN HUDSON thanked the witnesses, and indicated his intention                                                              
entertain a motion to move SCR 2 from the committee.                                                                            
Number 0590                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER made a motion to move SCR 2 out of                                                                      
committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero                                                                 
fiscal note.  He asked unanimous consent.  There being no                                                                       
objection, SCR 2 was moved from the House Special Committee on                                                                  
Number 0610                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN HUDSON briefly discussed next week's committee meeting.                                                                
Present will be federal and state managers, and they will speak                                                                 
about what will happen if there is no action taken on subsistence.                                                              
He discussed strategy and planning for the meeting.                                                                             
Number 0700                                                                                                                     
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Fisheries meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.                                                               

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