Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/08/1999 05:09 PM House FSH
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 2. 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 Kapsner. 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 record: 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 testimony. 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 moratorium. 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 managers. 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 committee. 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 resources. 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 revised. 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 seriously." 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 harvest. 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 management. 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 Peninsula." 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 Fisheries. 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. ADJOURNMENT Number 0700 There being no further business before the committee, the House Special Committee on Fisheries meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.