Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

04/27/2021 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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Audio Topic
10:02:30 AM Start
10:03:55 AM HB182
10:35:14 AM Presentation: Ak-bc Transboundary Salmon Rivers
11:45:24 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HB 182 Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Presentation: AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers TELECONFERENCED
Update by
- Bre Walker, Campaign Coordinator, Salmon
Beyond Borders
- Chris Sergeant, Research Scientist,
University of Montana Research Flathead Lake
Biological Research Station
- Raymond Paddock III, Environmental
Coordinator, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida
Indian Tribes of Alaska
- Tis Peterman, Special Projects Consultant,
Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary
- Frances Leach, Exec. Dir., United Fishermen of
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES                                                                            
                         April 27, 2021                                                                                         
                           10:02 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Geran Tarr, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative Kevin McCabe                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 182                                                                                                              
"An Act  extending the  fishery resource  landing tax  credit for                                                               
certain  taxpayers  that  harvest  fishery  resources  under  the                                                               
provisions  of a  community development  quota; providing  for an                                                               
effective date  by amending  the effective date  of secs.  16 and                                                               
23, ch. 61, SLA 2014; and providing for an effective date."                                                                     
     - MOVED HB 182 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: AK-BC TRANSBOUNDARY SALMON RIVERS                                                                                 
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 182                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EXTEND FISHERY RESOURCE LAND. TAX CREDIT                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) EDGMON                                                                                            
04/19/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/19/21       (H)       FSH, FIN                                                                                               
04/27/21       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE BRYCE EDGMON                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, introduced HB 182.                                                                     
SETH WHITTEN, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Answered  questions  regarding  HB 182  on                                                             
behalf of Representative Edgmon, prime sponsor.                                                                                 
NORMAN VAN VACTOR, President & CEO                                                                                              
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation                                                                                    
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided invited  testimony in support of HB
ANGEL DROBNICA, Director of Fisheries and Government Affairs                                                                    
Aleutian-Pribilof Island Community Development Association                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided invited  testimony in support of HB
CONNOR BELL, Analyst                                                                                                            
Legislative Finance Division                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During  the hearing  of  HB 182,  answered                                                             
NICOLE REYNOLDS, Deputy Director                                                                                                
Tax Division                                                                                                                    
Department of Revenue                                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During  the hearing  of  HB 182,  answered                                                             
JENNIFER WILLIAMS, Government Affairs                                                                                           
Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 182.                                                                          
BREANNA WALKER, Campaign Coordinator                                                                                            
Salmon Beyond Borders                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:     During   the   presentation  on   AK-BC                                                             
Transboundary  Salmon   River,  provided  a   PowerPoint,  titled                                                               
"Salmon Beyond Borders."                                                                                                        
CHRIS SERGEANT, Research Scientist                                                                                              
Flathead Lake Biological Station                                                                                                
University of Montana                                                                                                           
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                             
POSITION   STATEMENT:     During   the   presentation  on   AK-BC                                                             
Transboundary  Salmon   River,  provided  a   PowerPoint,  titled                                                               
"Monitoring the  health of  rivers shared  by Alaska  and British                                                               
Columbia," dated 4/27/21.                                                                                                       
RAYMOND PADDOCK, Environmental Coordinator                                                                                      
Central Council of the Tlingit  and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska                                                               
("Tlingit and Haida")                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided testimony during  the presentation                                                             
regarding AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers.                                                                                    
TIS PETERMAN, Special Projects Consultant                                                                                       
Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC)                                                                    
Wrangell, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided testimony during  the presentation                                                             
regarding AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers.                                                                                    
FRANCES LEACH, Executive Director                                                                                               
United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA)                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided testimony during  the presentation                                                             
regarding AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers.                                                                                    
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
10:02:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR GERAN TARR called the  House Special Committee on Fisheries                                                             
meeting to  order at 10:02  a.m.  Representatives  Stutes, Story,                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins,  and Tarr  were  present at  the  call to  order.                                                               
Representatives McCabe  and Vance arrived  as the meeting  was in                                                               
        HB 182-EXTEND FISHERY RESOURCE LAND. TAX CREDIT                                                                     
10:03:55 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO. 182,  "An  Act  extending the  fishery  resource                                                               
landing  tax credit  for certain  taxpayers that  harvest fishery                                                               
resources under the provisions of  a community development quota;                                                               
providing for  an effective date  by amending the  effective date                                                               
of  secs. 16  and 23,  ch.  61, SLA  2014; and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
10:04:02 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE BRYCE  EDGMON, Alaska State Legislature,  as prime                                                               
sponsor, introduced  HB 182.   He explained  HB 182  would extend                                                               
the  fishery  resource  landing  tax  credit.    The  tax  credit                                                               
originated in  2014 and  expired in  2020 [as  scheduled] because                                                               
the  legislature had  a shortened  session [due  to the  COVID-19                                                               
pandemic  and was  unable to  act on  extending it].   This  bill                                                               
would extend the tax credit from today until 2030.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON recounted that  in 1993 the legislature saw                                                               
that the ground fish industry  that was fishing outside of Alaska                                                               
waters in  Three-Mile Zone was  getting more prominent.   Adopted                                                               
in  1993 and  implemented in  1994, the  fishery landing  tax was                                                               
instituted because those vessels would  come in and use shoreside                                                               
facilities.   In 2014  a tax credit  program was  established for                                                               
the [Western  Alaska] Community Development Quota  (CDQ) Program,                                                               
which is  comprised of six regional  organizations that represent                                                               
about 65 communities in Western  Alaska.  This tax credit program                                                               
allows many of those harvesters  and others that fish outside the                                                               
state's waters  to contribute to  the local CDQ  organizations to                                                               
help  provide for  funding for  education, employment,  research,                                                               
and other  nonprofit endeavors.   It comes  to the state  with no                                                               
unrestricted general fund  (UGF) dollars attached to  it, and the                                                               
bill has a zero fiscal note.   This legislation would extend this                                                               
successful program  that benefits  Western Alaska  communities to                                                               
10:06:59 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  said it  is great  to see  all six                                                               
CDQ  groups  speaking  with  a common  voice  in  the  supporting                                                               
materials.   He  asked  whether litigation  is currently  ongoing                                                               
regarding the constitutionality of the fishery landing tax.                                                                     
10:07:33 AM                                                                                                                   
SETH WHITTEN,  Staff, Representative  Bryce Edgmon,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of  Representative Edgmon,  prime sponsor                                                               
of  HB 182,  confirmed  a  case is  currently  before the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme  Court pertaining  to the  landing tax.   He  said he  is                                                               
unsure on when a decision is anticipated.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  offered his understanding  that if                                                               
the plaintiffs were to prevail  it would strike down the entirety                                                               
of  the landing  tax and  then that  would render  moot this  tax                                                               
credit program.                                                                                                                 
MR.  WITTEN confirmed  that that  is correct.   If  that were  to                                                               
happen,  he said,  legislative action  might  be seen  to try  to                                                               
figure out how  to make that tax work  within whatever parameters                                                               
were established.                                                                                                               
10:08:29 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR opened invited testimony on HB 182.                                                                                  
10:09:21 AM                                                                                                                   
NORMAN  VAN  VACTOR,  President   &  CEO,  Bristol  Bay  Economic                                                               
Development  Corporation (BBEDC),  provided invited  testimony in                                                               
support of HB  182.  He stated  that BBEDC is one of  the six CDQ                                                               
entities  and represents  17 coastal  communities in  its region.                                                               
He   related  that   the   Community   Development  Program   was                                                               
established under the Hickel Administration  in 1992 and codified                                                               
in the  Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and  Management Act                                                               
in  1996.   This  remarkable  program  provides Alaska's  coastal                                                               
communities along the  Bering Sea specific harvest  quotas in the                                                               
federal  water fisheries  of the  Exclusive Economic  Zone (EEZ).                                                               
The  benefits   of  harvesting  this   quota  are   invested  and                                                               
reinvested   in  fisheries   development,  regional   development                                                               
programs,  and provide  employment and  educational opportunities                                                               
to BBEDC's community residents.                                                                                                 
MR.  VAN  VACTOR  specified that  the  Alaska  State  Legislature                                                               
enacted the fishery resource landing tax  in 1993 and the CDQ tax                                                               
credit provision  was enacted  in 2014.   The  for-profit fishing                                                               
partners  that   harvest  BBEDC's  CDQ  quota   are  eligible  to                                                               
participate   in  the   tax  credit   program  and,   in  return,                                                               
redistribute  those funds  to BBEDC.    The [Thirty-First  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature]  considered extending the sunset  provision in                                                               
Senate Bill 184, but the bill  failed to advance due to the chaos                                                               
created by  the [COVID-19] virus.   Presently, BBEDC  relies upon                                                               
the  fishery resource  landing tax  credit program  to supplement                                                               
the  funds that  BBEDC provides  to the  Bristol Bay  Science and                                                               
Research   Institute    (BBSRI),   which   does    critical   and                                                               
collaborative research  work with  the Alaska Department  of Fish                                                               
and  Game  (ADF&G) under  a  memorandum  of understanding  (MOU).                                                               
Extending this  program through 2030 would  provide stability for                                                               
BBEDC's  long-term  planning  in  the region  and  would  further                                                               
solidify BBEDC's collaborative work with ADF&G.                                                                                 
10:12:42 AM                                                                                                                   
ANGEL  DROBNICA, Director  of Fisheries  and Government  Affairs,                                                               
Aleutian-Pribilof   Island   Community  Development   Association                                                               
(APICDA), provided invited  testimony in support of HB  182.  She                                                               
stated that  APICDA represents six remote  coastal communities in                                                               
Southwest Alaska and  is one of the six CDQ  organizations with a                                                               
mission  to  increase  direct participation  in  Bering  Sea  and                                                               
Aleutian  Island  fisheries  and   to  help  develop  sustainable                                                               
fisheries-based economies.   The revenue generated  from APICDA's                                                               
quota holdings  and fisheries investments  is utilized  to create                                                               
jobs,  build infrastructure,  provide scholarships  and workforce                                                               
training,  and  help  support  a wide  range  of  local  priority                                                               
initiatives  and  projects  through grant  programs  to  eligible                                                               
community entities.                                                                                                             
MS. DROBNICA said  she agrees with Mr. Van  Vactor regarding this                                                               
remarkable  program and  its crafters  on the  state and  federal                                                               
levels.  She  offered APICDA's strong support for HB  182 and the                                                               
continuation of  the fishery resource landing  tax credit program                                                               
through  which   APICDA's  harvest   partners  are   provided  an                                                               
opportunity  to   attribute  a  portion  of   their  landing  tax                                                               
liability from  the harvest  of APICDA's  CDQ quota  for specific                                                               
fisheries  investments identified  in statute.   This  meaningful                                                               
program has  been used by  APICDA to advance its  mission through                                                               
supporting  training  opportunities,  direct  employment  in  the                                                               
seafood   industry,  and   to   help   with  shoreside   facility                                                               
MS.  DROBNICA   related  the   Central  Bering   Sea  Fishermen's                                                               
Association's (CBSFA's)  support for  HB 182,  the CDQ  group for                                                               
St. Paul  Island, whose representatives  were unable to  make the                                                               
hearing  due  to a  conflict.    Responding  to Chair  Tarr,  she                                                               
confirmed  she is  speaking on  behalf of  the CBSFA  as well  as                                                               
APICDA,  and  further  noted  that  a  letter  [included  in  the                                                               
committee packet]  was submitted  to the  committee on  behalf of                                                               
all six CDQ organizations.                                                                                                      
10:15:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE referred  to the  fiscal note  and offered                                                               
his  understanding  that a  portion  of  this is  not  designated                                                               
general fund  (DGF) and a portion  is.  He further  asked whether                                                               
the municipalities'  part of this  or the  CDQ's part of  this is                                                               
10:16:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CONNOR BELL, Analyst, Legislative  Finance Division (LFD), Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, noted  it  is  not a  standard  role for  the                                                               
Legislative   Finance   Division  to   provide   recommendations.                                                               
However,  he  continued, this  is  required  by statute,  so  the                                                               
division does  recommend continuation of this  provision given it                                                               
does not affect  state revenues; those revenues  are separate and                                                               
are  a municipal  share based  on AS  43.77.050.   The division's                                                               
recommendation is  based on only  the municipal share  portion of                                                               
the revenue being  affected.  He deferred to the  Tax Division to                                                               
speak to what aspect is sweepable.                                                                                              
CHAIR TARR offered her understanding  that Mr. Bell is saying the                                                               
Legislative Finance  Division can give a  positive recommendation                                                               
for this  because the  tax credit is  used against  the municipal                                                               
revenue portion of the revenue.                                                                                                 
MR. BELL confirmed that is correct.                                                                                             
CHAIR TARR invited the Tax Division to respond.                                                                                 
10:18:11 AM                                                                                                                   
NICOLE  REYNOLDS, Deputy  Director, Tax  Division, Department  of                                                               
Revenue (DOR),  responded that  the CDQ credit  can only  be used                                                               
against the municipal  share of the fishery  resource landing tax                                                               
revenue.   The state's share of  the proceeds is recorded  in the                                                               
unrestricted general  fund (UGF) and those  revenues would remain                                                               
the same.   The municipal  share of  the proceeds is  reported in                                                               
the designated general fund (DGF),  which would be reduced by the                                                               
CDQ credit, and those amounts  are reflected in the Department of                                                               
Revenue's fiscal note.                                                                                                          
CHAIR TARR  offered her understanding  that this would not  be in                                                               
the category of funds that  are considered sweepable if the state                                                               
portion of the revenue comes in as unrestricted general fund.                                                                   
MS. REYNOLDS  answered she  believes that's  correct, but  she is                                                               
not  entirely familiar  with the  term "sweepable"  or not.   She                                                               
explained that  these funds in the  DGF are what are  shared with                                                               
the municipalities.   So,  in the  Tax Division's  annual report,                                                               
those numbers  would be reduced  but the UGF's numbers  would not                                                               
be reduced.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  offered   his  understanding  that  these                                                               
monies would not be sweepable,  while Alaska Marine Highway funds                                                               
and  the  30  or  40   separate  statutory  driven  entities  are                                                               
sweepable.   He said  this is different  because the  money flows                                                               
through the  Department of Revenue  and not through a  board that                                                               
does something in statute.                                                                                                      
10:20:53 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  expressed  her  concern  that  this  would                                                               
reduce the money going to  municipalities, but the money is still                                                               
there,  it is  essentially a  trade.   She asked  what the  added                                                               
benefit  of that  is because  obviously the  municipalities could                                                               
use this funding but it's being utilized in a different way.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  replied that  the tax  credit has  been in                                                               
place  since  2014  with  a one-year  standdown  because  of  the                                                               
legislature's  inability to  finish its  work last  year.   While                                                               
researching the  bill, he related,  there was no  opposition from                                                               
municipalities  saying  they  would   like  to  have  this  money                                                               
redirected  back to  them.   Regarding  the benefits  to the  CDQ                                                               
program itself, he said the  six regional organizations and their                                                               
respective communities  receive many  benefits from  the proceeds                                                               
of this tax  credit, some years more than $600,000.   It is money                                                               
that goes towards educational opportunities  and research such as                                                               
the  Bristol Bay  Science and  Research  Institute.   There is  a                                                               
broader good attached  to the tax credit that  contributes to the                                                               
wealth of the communities and  the entire swath of Western Alaska                                                               
that participates in the CDQ program.                                                                                           
10:22:47 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR invited Mr. Van Vactor to respond to the question.                                                                   
MR. VAN VACTOR  specified that in BBEDC's case the  number in any                                                               
given year might  be from $80,000-$130,000, but  that BBEDC turns                                                               
that  money into  $600,000 by  contributing directly  towards its                                                               
science and  research institute and  by using share  matching and                                                               
fundraising.   He said BBEDC's pollock  partners contributed over                                                               
$400,000 last  year to education programs  in the region.   It is                                                               
seed money that goes a very long way.                                                                                           
CHAIR TARR asked  whether it would be accurate to  think of it as                                                               
allowing  BBEDC  to  leverage  other   funds  and  then  be  more                                                               
strategic in those investments.                                                                                                 
MR. VAN VACTOR answered, "Exactly."                                                                                             
10:23:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR opened public testimony on HB 182.                                                                                   
10:23:59 AM                                                                                                                   
JENNIFER  WILLIAMS,  Government  Affairs, Yukon  Delta  Fisheries                                                               
Development Association (YDFDA), testified  in support of HB 182.                                                               
She noted  she is a  lifelong Alaskan  from Emmonak.   She stated                                                               
that YDFDA is the CDQ  entity representing six communities on the                                                               
Yukon  River Delta  and these  member communities  represent more                                                               
than 3,400  residents who  live in one  of the  most economically                                                               
challenged regions  of the US.   The CDQ program allows  YDFDA to                                                               
provide fishery and economic benefits  to the resident fishermen,                                                               
their  families,   and  the  entire   region.    The   YDFDA  has                                                               
participated in  the fishery resource landing  tax credit program                                                               
since its  inception.  The  YDFDA uses this program  to partially                                                               
offset the amounts that YDFDA  spends annually to support fishery                                                               
research  and  monitoring  studies  of the  Yukon  River.    This                                                               
research  undertaking  is  developed in  collaboration  with  the                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish and  Game (ADF&G).  The credits greatly                                                               
assisted YDFDA's test fishing monitoring  activities on the lower                                                               
Yukon  River  for chinook  this  summer  and  for fall  chum,  to                                                               
conduct lamprey eel tagging and  recovery studies, and to conduct                                                               
chinook out-migration  and smolt  trawl survey  studies sponsored                                                               
in part  by the  National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration                                                               
(NOAA).   Both subsistence and commercial  openings are predicted                                                               
on the test  fishery results.  Without  this valuable information                                                               
ADF&G would be hard-pressed in  YDFDA's management efforts, which                                                               
would  likely result  in a  loss of  economic opportunity  in the                                                               
region and/or  a request for  additional state dollars.   None of                                                               
the tax credits  are used for YDFDA  administration or management                                                               
fee surcharge.   The fishery resource landing  tax credit program                                                               
is a  great benefit  to  the residents of Western  Alaska and the                                                               
state of Alaska.  She urged the committee to support HB 182.                                                                    
10:26:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR closed  public testimony on HB  182 after ascertaining                                                               
that no one else wished to testify.                                                                                             
10:26:43 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON   pointed  out  that  the   House  Special                                                               
Committee on Fisheries  also serves as a  budget subcommittee for                                                               
the Alaska  Department of  Fish and  Game.   He pointed  out that                                                               
when the department's budget was  considered a few weeks ago, the                                                               
UGF  portion, the  state funding  in  the department,  was at  52                                                               
percent  and  going  lower  and lower  as  additional  funds  are                                                               
supplanting  the  need for  state  monies,  and this  tax  credit                                                               
program is one of those.   The BBSRI program mentioned by Mr. Van                                                               
Vactor is unique because it allows  for some of the proceeds from                                                               
this program  to supplant what  ADF&G would normally  provide for                                                               
or  enhance what  the  department  is able  to  do with  existing                                                               
money.  So,  the role of this program, the  tax credit itself, is                                                               
providing local benefits and in  the larger context helping ADF&G                                                               
get its work done.                                                                                                              
10:27:51 AM                                                                                                                   
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
10:28:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR noted that all six  CDQ groups strongly support HB 182                                                               
and that  it sounds  like all  committee members  are comfortable                                                               
with moving the bill to its next committee of referral.                                                                         
10:29:16 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  moved to  report HB  182 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 182 was reported out of the                                                               
House Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                           
10:29:38 AM                                                                                                                   
The committee took an at-ease from 10:29 to 10:35 a.m.                                                                          
^Presentation: AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers                                                                                
        Presentation: AK-BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers                                                                     
10:35:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR announced that the final  order of business would be a                                                               
presentation  on  Alaska-British  Columbia  Transboundary  Salmon                                                               
Rivers Update.                                                                                                                  
10:36:17 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR passed the gavel to Vice Chair Stutes.                                                                               
10:36:24 AM                                                                                                                   
BREANNA  WALKER,  Campaign  Coordinator, Salmon  Beyond  Borders,                                                               
provided   a  PowerPoint   presentation  titled   "Salmon  Beyond                                                               
Borders."  She  began by acknowledging Juneau as  the present and                                                               
ancestral lands  of the A'akw  Kwaan Tlingit people.   She stated                                                               
that  Salmon Beyond  Borders works  closely  with commercial  and                                                               
sport  fishermen,  community   leaders,  tourism  and  recreation                                                               
business  owners, and  concerned citizens  in collaboration  with                                                               
tribes  and  First  Nations   united  across  the  Alaska-British                                                               
Columbia (BC) border to defend  and sustain transboundary rivers,                                                               
jobs, and the salmon way of life.                                                                                               
MS. WALKER  turned to the  map on the  second slide and  said the                                                               
Taku  (T'aakQ), Stikine  (Shtax'heen), and  Unuk (Joonak)  rivers                                                               
are  world-class  transboundary   salmon  rivers  originating  in                                                               
Northwest  British Columbia  and flowing  into Southeast  Alaska.                                                               
These  rivers  have  been  centers   of  culture,  commerce,  and                                                               
biodiversity for thousands of years.   At the headwaters of these                                                               
major  river systems  the BC  government  has more  than a  dozen                                                               
large-scale open-pit mines in stages  ranging from abandonment to                                                               
exploration     and     development    to     full     operation.                                                               
Industrialization  at  the  headwaters  of these  rivers  is  the                                                               
largest threat to some of  the last remaining wild salmon habitat                                                               
left on the  planet.  British Columbia's archaic  mining laws are                                                               
not strong enough to protect  water quality, wild salmon, and the                                                               
communities that rely on them.                                                                                                  
10:38:07 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WALKER  displayed the third  slide, titled "TAKU    STIKINE                                                                 
UNUK THE  RIVERS THAT FEED  US," and  said that starting  in 1998                                                               
Alaska lawmakers,  including governors, dozens  of municipalities                                                               
in  Southeast Alaska,  and the  Alaska Congressional  Delegation,                                                               
along with  15 federally recognized  tribes in  Southeast Alaska,                                                               
hundreds  of  business  owners, tour  operators,  commercial  and                                                               
sport fishing  groups, and thousands of  individual Alaskans have                                                               
called   for  enforceable   protections   and  robust   financial                                                               
assurance  in these  transboundary  watersheds.   Members of  the                                                               
Alaska State  Legislature continue  to be  leaders on  this issue                                                               
and  there is  continued  support from  the Alaska  Congressional                                                               
Delegation, with US Senator Lisa  Murkowski continuing to lead on                                                               
federal  appropriations for  water  quality  monitoring in  US/BC                                                               
transboundary watersheds.  The  US Congress recently appropriated                                                               
almost  $4 million  for  this work  in fiscal  year  2021.   This                                                               
funding  for water  quality  monitoring does  not  just focus  on                                                               
Alaska-Columbia watersheds  but also includes  Washington, Idaho,                                                               
and  Montana.   Despite all  these important  steps forward,  she                                                               
said she is before the committee today with a sense of urgency.                                                                 
10:39:58 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. WALKER  spoke to  the photograph  of a  salmon on  the fourth                                                               
slide  and stated  that the  Taku, Stikine,  and Unuk  rivers are                                                               
some of the world's last  intact wild salmon rivers; collectively                                                               
they have historically produced 80  percent of the king salmon in                                                               
Southeast Alaska.   Yet, this year the Alaska  Department of Fish                                                               
and Game  (ADF&G) is set to  add the Taku and  Stikine chinook to                                                               
the growing  list of  stocks of  concern, which  already includes                                                               
the Unuk River chinook.   The Stikine sockeye runs are forecasted                                                               
to  not  meet  subsistence  needs this  season.    Meanwhile,  in                                                               
British  Columbia  the mining  projects  near  the headwaters  of                                                               
these critical  salmon rivers  move ahead at  a faster  rate than                                                               
they  have in  previous years  and few  substantive changes  have                                                               
been  made  to BC's  mining  regulation  and permitting  policies                                                               
following  the  2014  Mount  Polley  waste  dam  failure  despite                                                               
recommendations from BC's own auditor  general.  British Columbia                                                               
still has not amended its  mine reclamation policy throughout the                                                               
province,  including mines  in transboundary  watersheds, despite                                                               
former Governor  Walker requesting  that, at minimum,  BC require                                                               
mining companies to  post a full reclamation  bond at permitting,                                                               
just as Alaska  requires.  Moving to the map  on the fifth slide,                                                               
Ms. Walker  stated that this is  most clear at the  headwaters of                                                               
the Stikine River  where some of the largest  mining companies in                                                               
the world are buying claims  and projects from the smaller junior                                                               
developers.   This map highlights  the sheer number  of potential                                                               
mines near the Stikine headwaters  in addition to the operational                                                               
record of this mine.  Almost  the entire riparian corridor of the                                                               
Iskut River, the largest tributary  of the Stikine, is staked for                                                               
mining claims.                                                                                                                  
10:41:37 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  WALKER  addressed  the  graph on  the  sixth  slide  titled,                                                               
"Transboundary Mine  Tailings Dam Heights."   She noted  that the                                                               
size and  scale of these mines  and their mine waste  dams, which                                                               
are meant to last in  perpetuity, are significantly increasing in                                                               
size, as seen  on the graph.  The expert  panel that reviewed the                                                               
Mount Polley  mine waste dam  failure, which spilled  6.6 billion                                                               
gallons of mining  waste, found that BC could face  an average of                                                               
two  dam  failures every  10  years  under the  business-as-usual                                                               
conditions.   The tailings dam  heights shown for the  Red Chris,                                                               
Schaft  Creek,  and  Galore  Creek are  all  within  the  Stikine                                                               
watershed.     The  cumulative  impacts  and   years  of  concern                                                               
expressed downstream are  being ignored as BC  continues the mass                                                               
industrialization of the US-BC shared watersheds.                                                                               
MS.  WALKER concluded  her presentation  with the  seventh slide.                                                               
She said  it has been  an honor to get  to know the  people whose                                                               
lives are  directly tied  to these  rivers on  both sides  of the                                                               
border.   More than just  wild salmon rivers, the  Taku, Stikine,                                                               
and  Unuk  rivers are  living  salmon-human  river systems  where                                                               
salmon  and people  are interconnected.   Work  is continuing  to                                                               
elevate this  issue at the  federal level.   The State  of Alaska                                                               
needs to  support both the  state and provincial process  as well                                                               
as  the federal  process that  brings everyone  and all  relevant                                                               
jurisdictions, including and especially  the tribes, to the table                                                               
to   establish   enforceable   protections   for   these   shared                                                               
transboundary salmon rivers.                                                                                                    
10:43:37 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  requested  Ms.  Walker  to  describe  the                                                               
effects on salmon six years  later from the Mount Polley tailings                                                               
dam collapse.   He further inquired  about what is in  the mining                                                               
waste itself.                                                                                                                   
MS.  WALKER replied  that she  is  not a  fisheries biologist  or                                                               
hydrologist, so she  would be happy to connect  members to people                                                               
in the community  as to what they are seeing  after the disaster.                                                               
She said the  Mount Polley tailings dam failure is  an example of                                                               
how  the mining  industry  in British  Columbia  is enforced  and                                                               
regulated, and  it has not  been to  the benefit of  human health                                                               
and  the  environment.    Imperial   Metals  has  not  been  held                                                               
accountable and  has been permitted to  discharge more wastewater                                                               
into Quesnel Lake.  The  expert panel that investigated the Mount                                                               
Polley  tailings dam  failure made  a number  of recommendations,                                                               
but BC  has yet to change  those rules and regulations  to reduce                                                               
risks to  communities and watersheds.   To answer  the questions,                                                               
she  offered to  share  resources with  the  committee after  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  related  that  he  grew  up  in  northern                                                               
Minnesota  where he  swam  in  tailings ponds.    He offered  his                                                               
belief that  there are different  sorts of tailings  and tailings                                                               
ponds,  and  some  are  toxic  and  some not.    He  said  he  is                                                               
interested in  learning how,  six years  later, the  Mount Polley                                                               
dam failure has affected the lake, fish, and humans.                                                                            
10:46:31 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY thanked  Ms.  Walker and  everyone who  has                                                               
come together on this issue for their efforts.                                                                                  
10:47:42 AM                                                                                                                   
The committee took  a brief at-ease to deal  with audio technical                                                               
10:48:06 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRIS  SERGEANT,  Research  Scientist, Flathead  Lake  Biological                                                               
Station,   University   of   Montana,   provided   a   PowerPoint                                                               
presentation, titled  "Monitoring the health of  rivers shared by                                                               
Alaska and  British Columbia," dated  4/27/21.  He noted  that he                                                               
spent 10 years  in Juneau studying the rivers and  salmon in this                                                               
transboundary   region.     He  said   the  good   news  in   the                                                               
transboundary  region shared  by  Alaska,  British Columbia,  and                                                               
indigenous  governments   is  that   there  are   still  thriving                                                               
watersheds.   However, he  advised, they  have reached  the point                                                               
where cautious  management and  monitoring of  their health  is a                                                               
necessity  and  he hopes  he  can  inspire  more action  in  that                                                               
direction.  There  are many mines in  the transboundary watershed                                                               
in  various forms  of abandonment,  exploration, and  operations,                                                               
and  continuing  to  improve  the  quality  and  coordination  of                                                               
environmental monitoring on both sides of the border is needed.                                                                 
MR.  SERGEANT moved  to  the  second slide  and  related that  he                                                               
contributed to  a 22-author  letter published  in the  Journal of                                                             
Science involving Canadian and US  experts in science and policy.                                                             
In  that letter  the  authors agreed  that:  1) mine  assessments                                                               
underestimate   risk;  2)   mine  permitting   often  relies   on                                                               
mitigations,  such as  water quality  treatment facilities,  that                                                               
lack  verification in  the  field; and  3) there  is  a need  for                                                               
increased  independent, transparent,  and peer-reviewed  science.                                                               
He added that there  is also a need for more  voices at the table                                                               
where decisions are made on how to treat these watersheds.                                                                      
10:50:08 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  SERGEANT  discussed  the third  slide,  titled  "Large-scale                                                               
Mining in Alaska-British Columbia  Transboundary Watersheds."  He                                                               
said  the aforementioned  three points  are critically  important                                                               
for the  transboundary region, which includes  the Taku, Stikine,                                                               
and Unuk  rivers.   The points  on the  maps represent  key mines                                                               
that continue to be in various  phases of operation.  Several are                                                               
proposed to be large open-pit operations.                                                                                       
MR.  SERGEANT displayed  the fourth  slide, titled  "Open pits  =                                                               
low-grade ore,"  and explained  that a common  grade of  gold for                                                               
open-pit operations in this region  requires removing about 2,200                                                               
pounds of  rock for 0.02  ounces of gold.   Turning to  the fifth                                                               
slide he  pointed out that  to get the  gold in his  wedding ring                                                               
requires the removal of over 23,000  pounds of earth.  While this                                                               
might be economically feasible for  a mining company, it involves                                                               
a  large  environmental trade-off.    One  critical component  to                                                               
tracking  these   trade-offs  is   the  adequate   monitoring  of                                                               
watershed health before, during,  and after project operations to                                                               
see how the water, land, and  animals change in response to these                                                               
large disturbances.                                                                                                             
MR.  SERGEANT spoke  to the  two  maps on  the sixth  slide.   He                                                               
related  that  there is  currently  one  open pit  mine  actively                                                               
operating in the transboundary watershed.   He explained that the                                                               
map  on the  right shows  a heavily  staked area  of the  Stikine                                                               
River  watershed   where  the  colors  represent   mineral  claim                                                               
ownership  by  several different  companies.    The yellow  cross                                                               
shows the Red Chris Mine,  a large open-pit mining operation that                                                               
has been in production since 2015.                                                                                              
10:52:07 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. SERGEANT turned  to the satellite image on  the seventh slide                                                               
[taken in 2011] before the  start of full-scale construction.  He                                                               
said satellite images  show how quickly the  land was transformed                                                               
once the  open-pit project  began.   Moving to  the image  on the                                                               
eighth  slide he  noted that  mine construction  began with  land                                                               
clearing in May 2012.   Displaying the nineth slide, he specified                                                               
that regular production  began in June 2015 and  all major pieces                                                               
of the project  were in place.  Showing the  tenth slide taken in                                                               
2020, he said the open pits  visible in the slide will eventually                                                               
converge  into  one; also  visible  are  the growing  mine  waste                                                               
storage reservoirs,  also known  as tailings  storage facilities.                                                               
The main  dams holding  back these tailings  have a  Canadian Dam                                                               
Association  consequence classification  of "very  high," meaning                                                               
that a failure would result  in significant loss or deterioration                                                               
of  critical  fish  or  wildlife  habitat  where  restoration  or                                                               
compensation in-kind  is possible but impractical.   These images                                                               
demonstrate  how quickly  habitat within  a watershed  can change                                                               
and illuminates the need  for collecting environmental monitoring                                                               
data early in the process before the operations are built.                                                                      
MR. SERGEANT  addressed the  eleventh slide.   He stated  that in                                                               
response to the  large number of operating  and exploratory mines                                                               
in  the transboundary  region, several  government entities  have                                                               
conducted  monitoring.   Last year  he  conducted an  independent                                                               
data  review   of  government-led  monitoring   in  transboundary                                                               
watersheds.   While each of  these are important pieces  of work,                                                               
he  said  he  concluded  that   monitoring  efforts  tend  to  be                                                               
concentrated  in  small areas  of  each  watershed or  relatively                                                               
short-term in  effort.   Therefore, monitoring  the environmental                                                               
health  of the  transboundary region  will require  commitment to                                                               
longer  term data  collection across  a broader  number of  sites                                                               
than currently exists.   "Longer term" means at  least five years                                                               
of consistent  and coordinated monitoring,  ten years  is better.                                                               
These  time  periods  are  well established  for  many  types  of                                                               
monitoring  programs.   For  example,  Section  7 of  the  Alaska                                                               
Highway Drainage  Manual recognizes  the importance  of long-term                                                               
stream flow  data collection  when designing  infrastructure like                                                               
bridges  and  culverts.   It  states  that a  complete  discharge                                                               
record is  usually defined  as one  having at  least 10  years of                                                               
continuous  record; 25  years of  record  is considered  optimal.                                                               
The   recently  completed   effort   of   Alaska  Department   of                                                               
Environmental  Conservation   (DEC)  and   BC  Ministry   of  the                                                               
Environment, while an important  start for monitoring, only spans                                                               
a period  of two years,  and much  more information is  needed to                                                               
accurately assess  the current  baseline health  of transboundary                                                               
10:54:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  SERGEANT reviewed  the  twelfth side,  titled  "What is  the                                                               
question you  want to answer?"   He explained that  monitoring in                                                               
the  transboundary watersheds  needs to  answer two  questions at                                                               
the  same time.    The  first question  is,  How  is the  overall                                                               
condition of  the watershed  changing over time?   This  helps to                                                               
see how factors  unrelated to mining impact  change the chemical,                                                               
biological,  and  physical  aspects  of  the  overall  watershed.                                                               
These factors  include glacier  retreat, changing  rain patterns,                                                               
and  warming  water temperatures.    This  is typically  done  by                                                               
laying grid over  the watershed and choosing  some random points,                                                               
but many  approaches are available.   The second question  is, At                                                               
the same  time, how  does a particular  mine impact  a watershed?                                                               
This  involves targeted,  non-random points  placed at  different                                                               
distances from  the mine to  see how the  river is affected.   To                                                               
date,  no monitoring  efforts  in  transboundary watersheds  have                                                               
been designed to answer both these questions.                                                                                   
MR. SERGEANT moved to slide  13 and specified that consistency is                                                               
key.  He stated  that the way data is collected  at each place in                                                               
the watershed  is critical.   Just because  something like  pH or                                                               
the amount of copper is measured  in the same river two different                                                               
times doesn't  necessarily mean those two  points are comparable.                                                               
Many things  are measurable, including  flow level, time  of day,                                                               
or  season.   This  means  that monitoring  needs  to keep  these                                                               
factors as  similar as possible  across all measurements  or that                                                               
many, many  measurements need to  be collected that span  all the                                                               
ranges of environmental conditions.                                                                                             
MR. SERGEANT  displayed slide  14 and  explained that  many toxic                                                               
chemicals are found in higher  concentrations in the water during                                                               
low  flow periods.   If  water  is only  collected during  higher                                                               
river flows, the periods when there  are more metals in the water                                                               
may be missed and therefore more  toxic to fish and other aquatic                                                               
organisms.  Many  monitoring programs don't cover  this aspect of                                                               
sampling  and  in many  watersheds  there  isn't sufficient  flow                                                               
information to examine these differences.                                                                                       
MR.  SERGEANT   addressed  slide  15,  titled   "Tulsequah  River                                                               
monitoring."   He said  this example  helps illustrate  the scale                                                               
and complexity  of monitoring transboundary watersheds  and leads                                                               
into his take-home  message.  As part of  a focused environmental                                                               
monitoring program,  he works alongside Taku  River Tlingit First                                                               
Nation's (TRTFN) staff  in Atlin, BC, to  monitor water sediment,                                                               
fish, and insects  in the Tulsequah River,  the largest tributary                                                               
to the  Taku River and  the Tulsequah  Chief Mine.   He clarified                                                               
that the  views he  is expressing represent  his own,  not TRTFN.                                                               
Over the past two years TRTFN  has monitored 12-17 sites in about                                                               
a six-mile stretch of river, a  much higher density of sites than                                                               
any  other  effort  taking  place  in  transboundary  watersheds.                                                               
Despite  this, and  due  to broad-scale  forces  such as  glacier                                                               
retreats or floods, TRTFN still  needs several more years of data                                                               
to really understand what is  driving the biological and chemical                                                               
patterns in the collective data.                                                                                                
MR.  SERGEANT  concluded  his  presentation  with  the  sixteenth                                                               
slide, titled  "Take-home message."   He  specified that  the red                                                               
box on the  map represents the area of the  Tulsequah River shown                                                               
in the  photograph on slide 15  and shows how small  this area is                                                               
compared to  the rest of the  Taku River watershed.   He said his                                                               
take-home message is:                                                                                                           
     Considering  the   complexity  of   interpreting  water                                                                    
     quality patterns  in this  small section  of watershed,                                                                    
     the level  of effort  needed to characterize  an entire                                                                    
     watershed  requires  long-term funding  commitment  and                                                                    
     strong collaboration across  all governments, where all                                                                    
         parties agree to the monitoring program goals,                                                                         
     objectives, and scientific approach.                                                                                       
10:58:44 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE recalled  Mr.  Sergeant mentioning  having                                                               
more voices across the table and asked who those would be.                                                                      
MR.  SERGEANT  deferred to  indigenous  governments  to speak  to                                                               
that.  He  said that non-academic partners like  himself could do                                                               
independent  science review  beyond state  agencies, so  federal,                                                               
state, municipal, and indigenous governments  would all be at the                                                               
same table.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked about the mines.                                                                                    
MR.  SERGEANT  replied that  they  play  a  large role  in  these                                                               
processes through  their permitting processes and  the monitoring                                                               
that they conduct.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  asked whether Mr. Sergeant  would advocate                                                               
that the mines be at the table.                                                                                                 
MR.  SERGEANT responded  that  that is  a  tricky answer  because                                                               
while the mines play an  important role in collecting data around                                                               
their  projects, they  also have  a conflict  of interest  in how                                                               
data is collected.   He said a two-pronged  approach is therefore                                                               
needed  where  there  is data  collected  independent  of  mining                                                               
companies but also the companies  are part of the conversation in                                                               
different aspects.                                                                                                              
11:00:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  asked whether  there is  any cause                                                               
for  water  quality  or  ecological concern  based  on  the  data                                                               
collected and analyzed to-date from the Tulsequah Chief Mine.                                                                   
MR. SERGEANT  answered, "Yes."   The  data collected  to-date are                                                               
consistent with historical data  showing that directly downstream                                                               
of  the mine  for one  or two  kilometers there  is a  very clear                                                               
pollution  signal in  elevated dissolved  metals like  copper and                                                               
arsenic.   There is still a  question of how far  downstream that                                                               
persists and what kind of  water treatment options should be used                                                               
to fully remediate the mine.   There is a question about seasonal                                                               
patterns as no one is out in the  fall or winter because it is so                                                               
hard to  access and those could  be some of the  most toxic times                                                               
in the  water downstream.   A few  more years of  data collection                                                               
and getting winter measurements will help illuminate that.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   surmised  it  is   important  to                                                               
collect fall and  winter data because there is  lower flow during                                                               
those seasons so  the proportion of contaminants  could be higher                                                               
and therefore the environmental impact higher.                                                                                  
MR. SERGEANT replied, "Yes."                                                                                                    
11:03:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  noted that  copper is a  natural substance                                                               
that was disturbed.   He asked whether the copper  would or would                                                               
not normally be in the stream.                                                                                                  
MR. SERGEANT responded that depending  on the geology of an area,                                                               
there  are  natural  levels  of  copper  in  these  rivers.    He                                                               
explained  that rock  taken  out  of the  ground  and exposed  to                                                               
oxygen and water  will often acidify the water, and  water with a                                                               
lower  pH will  dissolve metals  like copper  and make  them more                                                               
available to organisms,  such as uptake in fish  gills or tissue.                                                               
That reaction with  acidic water will increase the  toxicity of a                                                               
metal like copper  which, for salmon, hurts  their nasal passages                                                               
so  they cannot  smell and  therefore don't  do as  well avoiding                                                               
predators, or it  may cause homing problems back  to their waters                                                               
for spawning.                                                                                                                   
11:04:31 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  pointed out  that some  of the  finest red                                                               
salmon  coming out  of Alaska  come from  the Copper  River where                                                               
"piles of stuff"  from the Kennecott Mine were dumped  and yet 50                                                               
years later the salmon are thriving.   He also referenced the Red                                                               
Dog Mine.   He said Mr.  Sergeant mentioned copper as  if it were                                                               
not a  natural substance,  yet it is  a natural  substance except                                                               
that humans  disturbed it, although  it could also  eventually be                                                               
disturbed naturally.                                                                                                            
MR. SERGEANT  pointed out  that a fish  hatchery would  never use                                                               
copper pipes because  of its known toxicity.  He  said he doesn't                                                               
have deep knowledge  of the Copper River and cannot  speak to the                                                               
toxicity  of copper  in that  river, except  that it  is a  large                                                               
river and there is  a lot of dilution.  It  is important to learn                                                               
about  these impacts  in each  individual study  system, a  study                                                               
from one  place cannot be  extrapolated to other places.   Salmon                                                               
are  known for  their ability  to evolve  to their  specific home                                                               
water conditions and while some might  be able to resist a little                                                               
bit of  elevated copper because  it is natural in  the watershed,                                                               
other  populations may  not  do so  well.   There  are very  good                                                               
studies on  how copper can  be toxic to  fish like salmon.   This                                                               
drives home  the point about  choosing where to study  these fish                                                               
where  there could  be copper  issues and  getting people  at the                                                               
table  to talk  about  the  goals of  monitoring  these types  of                                                               
substances.   In  addition to  copper there  is a  suite of  many                                                               
other metals in mining.                                                                                                         
11:07:25 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS   offered  his   appreciation  for                                                               
Representative McCabe's  question.   He asked  whether adaptation                                                               
naturally occurs in rivers with elevated levels of metals.                                                                      
MR. SERGEANT replied  that it is hard question  to answer because                                                               
ecologists  have not  done definitive  studies,  but the  current                                                               
overriding scientific opinion is that  salmon are very evolved to                                                               
the specific  waters that they  come from.   He pointed  out that                                                               
just because something  is toxic doesn't mean it  makes fish flip                                                               
over and die;  it could if the concentration is  high enough, but                                                               
there  are sublethal  effects to  where predation  may be  higher                                                               
because the salmon cannot smell  predators or are not homing back                                                               
to  their home  river as  well.   System  specific knowledge  for                                                               
individual  rivers  is  needed.    Fish  living  in  waters  with                                                               
naturally high levels  of metals may be at the  edge of what they                                                               
can tolerate,  and those fish  could be  put into trouble  if the                                                               
levels are raised.                                                                                                              
11:10:26 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STORY  requested an  update on which  entities are                                                               
still conducting monitoring and which are quitting monitoring.                                                                  
MR. SERGEANT answered  that the joint Alaska DEC  and BC Ministry                                                               
of Environment  report states  that they  will not  be continuing                                                               
that  monitoring  program  because  it would  be  redundant  with                                                               
ongoing efforts.   He said he  personally does not believe  it is                                                               
redundant  and  what happens  is  that  Alaska entities  tend  to                                                               
monitor on  the Alaska  side of  the border  and the  BC entities                                                               
tend  to monitor  on  that side  of the  border  and they're  not                                                               
coordinating   the  same   methods  over   time,  and   they  are                                                               
concentrated  such that  five or  six places  are being  measured                                                               
throughout the  watershed.  No one  is combining the two  sets of                                                               
points  of  looking  at  the overall  watershed  health  and  the                                                               
specific mining impacts.  He  related that Mr. Paddock will speak                                                               
to  the Central  Council's  monitoring efforts  and  that the  US                                                               
Geological Survey  (USGS) has extensive efforts  at the Alaska-BC                                                               
border  with   its  super-gauge  that  measures   streamflow  and                                                               
different water quality  efforts like pH and turbidity.   He said                                                               
work is being  done in too small an area  of these watersheds for                                                               
too short a period of time;  rather, work needs to be expanded to                                                               
wider, broader areas throughout the watersheds.                                                                                 
11:13:18 AM                                                                                                                   
RAYMOND  PADDOCK, Environmental  Coordinator, Central  Council of                                                               
the  Tlingit and  Haida  Indian Tribes  of  Alaska ("Tlingit  and                                                               
Haida"), stated he is working with  the team at Tlingit and Haida                                                               
that has  been doing  monitoring on the  Taku and  Stikine rivers                                                               
and is  hoping to add the  Unuk River with the  USGS this summer.                                                               
Sampling  is  also being  done  on  the  Alsek River  outside  of                                                               
Yakutat and  the Chilkat  and Klehini  rivers outside  of Klukwan                                                               
and Haines.   He said Tlingit and Haida samples  two locations on                                                               
each river,  but that is  not enough.   Samples are taken  at the                                                               
surface level and  at a five-foot depth;  physical parameters are                                                               
measured, and  samples are taken  for many dissolved  metals, pH,                                                               
conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature.                                                                      
MR. PADDOCK  qualified that  he is  not a  scientist, so  he will                                                               
defer any  questions that  he cannot  answer to  the rest  of his                                                               
team.   He related that for  the past five or  six years, Tlingit                                                               
and Haida  has been sampling  for baseline water quality  data on                                                               
the  transboundary rivers  in Southeast  Alaska.   However,  this                                                               
data was not included in  the recently released joint data report                                                               
that the State of  Alaska and BC sent out.   Tlingit and Haida is                                                               
advocating  for federal  government appropriation  to complete  a                                                               
comprehensive   baseline  study   of   the  transboundary   water                                                               
ecosystems  and  water  basins,  along  with  key  indicators  to                                                               
identify pollutants  from mining projects  in BC that are  on the                                                               
headwaters  of  [Southeast  Alaska's]  rivers.   While  the  data                                                               
report and work of the Bilateral  Working Group is a step forward                                                               
to  ensure the  environmental, cultural,  and economic  values of                                                               
our rivers and  communities are protected, Tlingit  and Haida has                                                               
not been  engaged with the  Alaska-BC Bilateral Working  Group or                                                               
its technical working  group on monitoring since  2018 during the                                                               
Walker Administration, which  diminishes the collaborative effort                                                               
described in the data report.                                                                                                   
11:16:21 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. PADDOCK stated,  "Our way of life depends upon  our health of                                                               
the  transboundary waters  and it's  important for  Alaska tribes                                                               
and BC First  Nations to be fully engaged  for true collaboration                                                               
to exist."   He said  this data should not  be viewed as  a final                                                               
report  but essentially  as  the beginning.    Tlingit and  Haida                                                               
feels it was a gross underestimation  to the impact on the waters                                                               
by saying  water sampling on  these rivers is complete.   Tlingit                                                               
and  Haida  hopes  to  continue   to  be  able,  through  federal                                                               
appropriation, to  conduct a  much broader  scale of  sampling on                                                               
each of the rivers in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                         
11:17:07 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR STUTES returned the gavel to Chair Tarr.                                                                             
11:17:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE requested Mr. Paddock  to provide a list of                                                               
the  metals  that   Tlingit  and  Haida  is   sampling  for,  the                                                               
concentrations, and  the baseline from before  the mines started.                                                               
He offered  his belief that  there are some  concentration levels                                                               
published by the US government.                                                                                                 
MR.  PADDOCK replied  that Tlingit  and Haida  is happy  to share                                                               
that  data.   He said  the  number of  samples for  the Taku  and                                                               
Stikine rivers are 35 and 38 over  the past five or six years and                                                               
this  data  will be  made  public  shortly.   He  explained  that                                                               
sampling in  the winter  is hazardous and  difficult and  so some                                                               
winter and fall samplings have been missed.                                                                                     
11:18:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  requested  Mr. Paddock  to  speak                                                               
more about  the likelihood  of the  USGS coming  in as  a partner                                                               
with funding to commence monitoring on the Unuk River.                                                                          
MR. PADDOCK responded  that it is being worked on  right now.  He                                                               
said Tlingit  and Haida  has sent its  sampling schedules  to the                                                               
USGS to correlate  when USGS is sampling so that  sampling can be                                                               
done at a partnership level.   It will also include the Ketchikan                                                               
Indian Community, given  the Unuk River is their  homeland.  When                                                               
sampling  rivers that  are not  in the  Juneau area,  Tlingit and                                                               
Haida  works  with  the  partnering  tribes  to  build  up  their                                                               
capacity to  sample in  their traditional  areas and  then return                                                               
the data to Tlingit and Haida.                                                                                                  
11:20:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  asked how it  came about  that Tlingit and  Haida has                                                               
not been in the working group since 2018.                                                                                       
MR. PADDOCK answered that Tlingit  and Haida has requested a seat                                                               
at the  table, and he  believes other tribes in  Southeast Alaska                                                               
and First Nations have asked as well.                                                                                           
11:22:17 AM                                                                                                                   
TIS  PETERMAN,  Special  Projects  Consultant,  Southeast  Alaska                                                               
Indigenous  Transboundary Commission  (SEITC), stated  that SEITC                                                               
consists  of  representatives  by   resolution  of  15  federally                                                               
recognized tribal governments in Southeast  Alaska.  She said she                                                               
has  lived her  entire  life  in Wrangell  at  the  mouth of  the                                                               
Stikine River.  On 3/31/21 SEITC  sent a letter to Premier Horgan                                                               
of BC which  brought to his attention SEITC's  earlier request to                                                               
enter into  an agreement regarding  the participation  in ongoing                                                               
permitting    discussions   and    decisions   throughout    BC's                                                               
environmental  process  pursuant  to   the  United  Nations  (UN)                                                               
declaration on  the rights  of indigenous  peoples.   The earlier                                                               
request  was to  the Ministry  of Energy,  Mines, and  Low Carbon                                                               
Innovation and the  reply was that the ministries  needed time to                                                               
conduct  comprehensive  internal  reviews  to  fully  respond  to                                                               
SEITC's  request.   The  request  to  Premier  Horgan was  a  new                                                               
request from  SEITC to have a  pause in new permits  and approval                                                               
of new  mining projects in BC  until such time as  the completion                                                               
of  the  aforementioned  comprehensive  internal  reviews.    The                                                               
request was  received, and  the ministry will  respond at  it its                                                               
earliest opportunity.                                                                                                           
11:24:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. PETERMAN related  that on 12/6/19 SEITC  submitted a petition                                                               
to  the Inter-American  Commission on  Human Rights  which stated                                                               
that the  transboundary mining will  have devastating  effects on                                                               
the way  of life and  downstream communities.  That  petition was                                                               
rejected  based  on  BC  stating it  was  unaware  of  downstream                                                               
concerns.   The SEITC appealed and  this past week heard  back on                                                               
the appeal  and the Human  Rights Commission has  forwarded parts                                                               
of the  petition to the  Canadian government, which will  then be                                                               
given three months to submit its observations on the petition.                                                                  
MS.  PETERMAN   said  that   in  2019   SEITC  held   its  second                                                               
international summit between First Nations  and tribes.  A salmon                                                               
emergency was  declared by all 34  participants at the event.   A                                                               
third summit  will be held virtually  in [2021] with the  goal of                                                               
building on  the relationships between  First Nations  and tribes                                                               
to build a framework on  watershed management, which will address                                                               
free, prior, and informed consent  by indigenous people.  For the                                                               
first  time,  tribes  from Washington,  Montana,  and  Idaho  are                                                               
interested in  joining the  next summit  since they  are fighting                                                               
the same types of issues on their transboundary borders.                                                                        
MS. PETERMAN stated  that prior to COVID-19,  SEITC interviewed a                                                               
host  of  First  Nations  during  several trips  to  BC.    These                                                               
interviews were developed into a  virtual production called "When                                                               
the Salmon Spoke" that aired online  in May 2020 and put faces of                                                               
the  people who  live  along  the Stikine  River  and over  1,000                                                               
people viewed the premier production.                                                                                           
11:26:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  PETERMAN  shared  that  a gathering  in  Wrangell  is  being                                                               
planned  between the  Tahltan and  the Tlingit;  historically the                                                               
Stikine watershed  was managed by  these two nations.   A meeting                                                               
will  be attended  by  descendants  of the  Chief  Nanaka of  the                                                               
Tahltan and  descendants of  Chief Shakes of  the Tlingit.   This                                                               
type of meeting has  not been held in over 100  years.  Since all                                                               
three transboundary  rivers originate in Tahltan  territory it is                                                               
imperative to keep the channels of communication open.                                                                          
MS.  PETERMAN  offered  her  agreement   with  Mr.  Paddock  that                                                               
indigenous  people  need to  be  sitting  at the  table  whenever                                                               
transboundary issues are discussed.                                                                                             
11:28:08 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  TARR said  it sounds  like what  is happening  now is  the                                                               
Bilateral Working  Group has the traditional  government entities                                                               
participating,  but  because  it  is  such  a  significant  need,                                                               
organizations like  SEITC are also  working with  tribal entities                                                               
to coordinate, but maybe the two need to be connect.                                                                            
MS. PETERMAN agreed that that would  be most effective.  She said                                                               
SEITC has  reached out to the  First Nations to find  out how the                                                               
people  felt  on   the  other  side  of  the   border  about  the                                                               
transboundary  issues.   In  listening  to  the mining  companies                                                               
everything  is perfect,  but SEITC  is hearing  quite differently                                                               
from  the  people   on  the  ground  in  BC.     As  many  tribal                                                               
representatives as possible are brought into these summits.                                                                     
11:30:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR played the video trailer for "When the Salmon Spoke."                                                                
MS.  PETERMAN, responding  to Chair  Tarr, stated  that she  will                                                               
provide links to the committee for playing the entire video.                                                                    
11:32:13 AM                                                                                                                   
FRANCES  LEACH, Executive  Director, United  Fishermen of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA), explained that  UFA is a statewide  commercial fishing and                                                               
trade    association   representing    37   commercial    fishing                                                               
organizations and  500 individuals  who participate  in fisheries                                                               
throughout  the state  and federal  waters along  Alaska's coast.                                                               
She said UFA is increasingly  concerned with potential impacts to                                                               
fish habitat  and water  resources from  at least  12 large-scale                                                               
open-pit  and underground  metal mines  in British  Columbia (BC)                                                               
that are abandoned, permitted, or  operating in the headwaters of                                                               
transboundary waters that flow  downstream into Southeast Alaska,                                                               
some rivaling the  size of the [proposed] Pebble  Mine in Bristol                                                               
MS. LEACH  pointed out that UFA  is not opposed to  mining but is                                                               
for  responsible  mining  that   is  held  to  strict  scientific                                                               
standards, just  as the commercial fishing  industry is monitored                                                               
for protection of the resources.                                                                                                
MS. LEACH noted that the  transboundary Taku, Stikine, Iskut, and                                                               
Unuk-Nass are  world class salmon producing  rivers, contributing                                                               
$48 million  to the Alaska  economy, and producing 80  percent of                                                               
Southeast  Alaska's  king  salmon.    She  said  the  health  and                                                               
productivity  of  these rivers  is  integral  to the  overall  $1                                                               
billion annual salmon fishing industry  and the $1 billion annual                                                               
visitors' industry in  Southeast Alaska.  In  1957 Tech Resources                                                               
abandoned the Tulsequah  Chief Mine in the  Taku River watershed,                                                               
which  is 33.5  miles,  or  55 miles  as  the  salmon swim,  from                                                               
Alaska's  capital  city.   The  damage  caused by  the  abandoned                                                               
Tulsequah Chief Mine had a direct  impact on the wild salmon that                                                               
inhabited this river.  Commercial  fishermen have been up in arms                                                               
about this  project for more than  60 years, and because  of BC's                                                               
laws this  mine site  has been leaching  acid mine  drainage into                                                               
the largest salmon river in Southeast  Alaska for 60 years.  This                                                               
year the  Alaska Department  of Fish and  Game (ADF&G)  will list                                                               
the  Taku,  Stikine, and  Unuk  king  salmon  runs as  stocks  of                                                               
concern, and impacts and devastation are continuing to be seen.                                                                 
MS. LEACH stated that the best  way to avoid lost livelihoods and                                                               
cultural ways  of life is  for them not to  be lost in  the first                                                               
place.   She said UFA  has been engaged  in this matter  over the                                                               
past several years  and has written several letters  to the State                                                               
of  Alaska  and Alaska  Congressional  Delegation.   However,  in                                                               
recent years UFA  has seen a diminished response  to this subject                                                               
from the State of  Alaska, but now is not the  time to be putting                                                               
transboundary issues on  the back burner.  The UFA  is asking the                                                               
State of Alaska  to join the Alaska  Congressional Delegation and                                                               
call   for   federal   engagement   and   international   binding                                                               
protections.    She  urged  the   committee  to  engage  on  this                                                               
important issue that will affect  commercial fishermen and all of                                                               
Southeast Alaska and Alaskans.                                                                                                  
11:36:11 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked whether  UFA has thought this through                                                               
to its logical  end.  He said if lawmakers  put huge restrictions                                                               
on the mines  the price of the  base metal would go  up, then the                                                               
price of  fishing boats would go  up, and then the  price of fish                                                               
would go  up.  Only fish  people were heard from  today, so there                                                               
is  no  balance  in  today's  hearing.   The  raw  materials  for                                                               
building wind  turbines and  solar panels  come from  mining, and                                                               
there needs to be a balance.  Mines  need to be part of the voice                                                               
and  know that  they will  be held  accountable, but  their needs                                                               
must also be understood.                                                                                                        
MS. LEACH  responded that the point  is taken.  She  said UFA has                                                               
worked  closely  with the  Alaska  Mining  Association (AMA)  and                                                               
always  invites them  to have  conversations  and a  seat at  the                                                               
table.    She  noted  that  AMA  has  had  the  ability  to  give                                                               
presentations  to  the Alaska  State  Legislature  just as  [fish                                                               
people]  are today.   The  committee is  only hearing  from fish-                                                               
focused  people  because that  is  what  today's presentation  is                                                               
about.   Regarding boat prices going  up if mines are  shut down,                                                               
UFA is not  asking for mines to  be shut down, UFA  is asking for                                                               
mines to be responsible.   If they aren't responsible there won't                                                               
be fish  and then there  will be no need  for boats.   She agreed                                                               
there is a balance and room at  the table for everyone to have an                                                               
open discussion but currently there  is nothing facilitating this                                                               
discussion, which is why it is being asked for today.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  offered  his  appreciation  that  UFA  is                                                               
involved  with AMA.    He  said he  is  pro-development and  pro-                                                               
fisheries development and that everyone  needs to be a steward of                                                               
the environment and have a seat at the table.                                                                                   
11:40:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  TARR stated  it is  interesting to  think about  abandoned                                                               
versus permitted  versus operating [mines].   She said  there are                                                               
lessons to  be learned from  abandoned mines and mistakes  to not                                                               
be  repeated.   She related  that the  committee's role  is being                                                               
discussed, such as  whether a letter can be  written or something                                                               
done on  this issue to  encourage that coordination  and ensuring                                                               
all  voices are  included, including  the mining  industry.   She                                                               
offered her belief that Representative  Ortiz might be working on                                                               
something related to  that.  Regarding the  committee's role, she                                                               
said the  message she is getting  today is [the need  for] better                                                               
coordination and  tribal involvement  in government-to-government                                                               
discussions so there is a better  plan in place.  She invited the                                                               
testifiers to provide closing comments if they wished to do so.                                                                 
MS.  LEACH said  she  has nothing  more to  add  and thanked  the                                                               
committee for listening.                                                                                                        
MS. WALKER concurred with Chair  Tarr's summary.  She stated that                                                               
the  wild salmon  populations are  dropping  dramatically in  the                                                               
Taku,  Stikine,  and  Unuk  rivers,  so  it  is  imperative  that                                                               
everyone   work  together   to   develop  binding   international                                                               
watershed-scale framework  that will protect the  health of these                                                               
significant salmon watersheds and  the communities that depend on                                                               
them.  Multiple  jurisdictions are linked to  these iconic salmon                                                               
rivers, including  and especially the indigenous  nations of this                                                               
region, the  State of Alaska,  the province of  British Columbia,                                                               
the  US, Canadian  federal governments,  and  the communities  on                                                               
both sides of  the border.  All these jurisdictions  need to play                                                               
a role in the development  and implementation of binding measures                                                               
for these watersheds.                                                                                                           
CHAIR TARR stated  that updates are valuable given  the change of                                                               
people  in the  legislature, the  governor's office,  and federal                                                               
positions on both sides of the  border.  She said coordination is                                                               
important  so  that as  the  people  change  the effort  and  the                                                               
progress can continue.                                                                                                          
11:45:24 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Fisheries meeting  was adjourned  at 11:45                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 182 Sponsor Statement 4.19.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
SFIN 5/17/2021 1:00:00 PM
HB 182
HB 182 Version A 4.19.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 182
HB 182 Research - AS 43.77.040 4.19.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 182
HB 182 Research - LFD Indirect Expenditure Report 2021 CDQ Credit 4.19.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
SFIN 5/17/2021 1:00:00 PM
HB 182
HB 182 Research - Map of Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program Eligible Communities and CDQ Groups 9.2003.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 182
HB 182 Letter of Support - Fanning and Van Vactor 4.21.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 182
HB 182 Fiscal Note - DOR-TAX 4.23.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 182
AK - BC Transboundary Salmon Rivers Update - Walker 4.27.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
AK-BC Transboundary Salmon River Update
AK -BC Transboundary Salmon River Update - Sergeant 4.27.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
AK - BC Transboundary Salmon River Update
AK - BC Transboundary Salmon River Update - Peterman 4.27.21.pdf HFSH 4/27/2021 10:00:00 AM
AK - BC Transboundary Salmon River Update