Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/08/1995 05:05 PM FSH
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Number 022 HFSH - 02/08/95 HB 107 - RESTRICTED LIMITED ENTRY PERMITS REPRESENTATIVE BEN GRUSSENDORF stated, "HB 107 stems out of a situation that has occurred mainly in Southeast Alaska. In 1991, there was some concern with the stock and the ability of that stock to sustain itself. In this case we're talking about dungeness crabs." REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF further stated, "We want to do something so those people that are in the crab fisheries will be able to make a living. We could allow more and more people to come in to it but then people would get fewer and fewer crabs and thus cause problems with the stock. The bill takes the findings from the moratorium and they show what would be in the best interest of the stock. We're not necessarily saying how many pots and how to do this. This would simply be a tool to give to the Limited Entry Board to figure out how to work it out. This does not, in any way, alter or limit the powers of the Board of Fish. It just basically sets up where people that are in the crab industry right now for dungeness, would get what their historical use has been in the number of pots." REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF further stated, "Number one, we're trying to protect the stock so we can have a sustained yield. Secondly, let those people that are in that particular fisheries be able to make a living off of it." Number 084 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN noted that Representative Ogan arrived at 5:07 p.m. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS asked Representative Grussendorf how long the moratorium was on. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF responded by saying, "It started in 1990 or 1991. A moratorium can only run for four years and we had a series of hearings in Southeast Alaska, ranging from Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Juneau. We all agreed that it would be a good idea. Next January, the four years are up and if we don't do something, its gone and everybody can bail into that fishery. I personally do not feel that it would be in the best interest of the stock and certainly would cause problems with those people making a few dollars out of it now." REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Representative Grussendorf if a consensus was reached at those meetings and that this bill is the outcome of those meetings. Number 110 REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF said, "The meetings that were held were whether or not we should have a moratorium. During that moratorium period, we had the researchers and biologists and fishermen analyzing what the carrying capacity is. There conclusion was that something had to be done. What is attempting to be done is to give the Limited Entry Commission a tool to investigate anything from tierring to whatever they want to do. Once again, the Board of Fish has the power to limit the number of pots. I understand that there is an amendment floating around to that effect." REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF said, referring to the amendment, "I have no problem with it, because the bill is tailored not to override any of the power of the Board of Fish." FRANK HOMAN, Commissioner, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission confirmed that was the intent of the amendment. Number 139 BILL FLOR, President, Southeast Dungeness Crabbers Association testified via teleconference from Petersburg urging support of this legislation. He said, "We have been trying to achieve some protection for the crab resources to limited access to the commercial users. Because of the nature of this type of fishery, which uses multiple units of gear, a person can participate very minimally. This presents serious problems when a traditional limited entry is considered because of the potential for increasing the actual number of pots in the water can grow significantly. The resource can suffer and the managers have no real way of knowing the actual fishing effort. Mr. Grussendorf stated that in 1991, the legislature worked with us to pass a bill imposing a moratorium on new entrants into the Southeast dungeness fishery. This was so we could study various possibilities for conserving the resource." MR. FLOR further stated, "HB 107 is a direct continuation of that process. "(indisc)" held hearings throughout Southeast in September, of 1994, and the crab industry was fairly united in trying to solve an inclusive tierred access system. This is by where fishermen would be given permits tied to gear levels that would be consistent with their past participation. This is fair because all participants are included. It gives managers a solid control over the total number of pots actually fishing and it efficiently controls growth." Number 183 KRAIG NORHEIM, testified via teleconference from Petersburg opposing HB 107 saying, "I think everyone should be treated equally that met the moratorium criteria. If pot restriction isn't what were looking at here, if its the permit were trying to get into the ball park, then either we get a permit or we don't. Either its wide open for everyone to fish or we are a unique set of individuals. The ADFG can limit the gear according to what they feel the biomass and fishing participants in the fishery are actually doing by registration of pots. I don't think a tierred system is in the best interest of all the fishermen in Southeast." MR. NORHEIM added, "A tierred system looks good for me but it doesn't look good for some of the smaller boats that are getting into the fishery and building their strings from scratch during a moratorium or even before. The approximately 75 people that got in under the last year of this moratorium, should have the same rights to fish like we do." Number 216 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON indicated he understood Mr. Norheim's point and said, "But the danger of imposing limitations is there with the simple limited entry format. Couldn't a regime be extended to that fishery which would take out those small boat fishermen because of a lack of history in the fishery?" MR. NORHEIM answered that he didn't believe that was the case. He further stated, "If you had 50 pots five years ago, you may have 250 now, but there isn't a moratorium during the years that you were qualifying for. Some of us had 300 pots during those and yes were going to look real good in a tierred system. In reality, the ADFG look at the number of participants and they determine that they can use 300 pots and they can fish four months out of the year. Were under a size, sex and season management, so we can take all the legal males in a area." MR. NORHEIM also said, "It doesn't matter if we have 150 pots per vessel or we have 300 pots per vessel, we still take the same amount of crab yearly that are legal to take. The little guy can still become as big as he wants within a 300 pot limit which is the legal limit. On the Washington coast there is a 600 pot limit, and up north is a 600 pot limit. In Southeast we have a traditional 300 pot limit. Not everybody fishes the limit, because they may not financially be able to do that or maybe their boat is not large enough to handle 300 pots." Number 257 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked, "The argument that you're advancing in opposing a tierred system could be a argument that could easily be advance in opposing limited entry. For example, a person who began fishing during the moratorium would not qualify for a limited entry permit. That would have the same deleterious effect on the small boat fishermen that you're talking about with a tierred system. Is that correct?" MR. NORHEIM replied, "I believe that the limited entry would give every person that fished during the moratorium a license. The license would be of equal value for everybody." Number 276 LEO J. TIM testified via teleconference from Bethel against commercial entry permits in general. He also talked about the Bering Sea, Togiak and subsistence. Number 324 JEFF ERICKSON testified via teleconference from Petersburg stating that he was against the bill as it is written. He said, "The enforcement of this bill would be harder than it is now. I feel equal participation is the way it should go. There's a set number of people that are in the fishery. If 300 pots are too (indisc.) for each person then I think they should lower the pot limit. That should be a Board of Fish thing. I really feel that those (indisc.) don't need to make any amendments to the limited entry, the way it stands. I'm in favor of limited entry with fewer pots." Number 371 CHRIS CERIS testified via teleconference from Petersburg indicating that he was against limiting entry into the dungeness crab fishery. He further stated, "I do not believe that conservation preservation of the species is a valid argument for limited entry. I have reached these conclusions after conversations with our area shellfish biologist Tim Kieteman (ph)." He explained the size, sex and season theory and another theory involving elimination of the large up and down cycle of crab stocks. He stressed that harvest limits, changing the seasons and limiting the amount of gear in the water remain viable in a open access fishery. He said, "I would urge you to consult with biologists. There is a set number of legal crab, most of which get caught, no matter if its by 200 people with 300 pots each or 400 people with 150 pots each. These numbers show that twice as many Alaskan's could be benefitting from the fishery. Limited entry does not make sense for the crab or for the economy." Number 417 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that whether this bill passes or not, limited entry can still be imposed in this fishery. DAVID GREBE, testified via teleconference from Petersburg. He said, "I don't think limited entry is the right way to go." Number 440 DENNIS O'NEIL testified via teleconference from Petersburg stated, "I'm supporting this bill. It seems like there is already too many pots in the water. We need some type of limited entry for it. This tierred system seems like the best one to me. I think any other limited entry would increase the number of pots." Number 485 MR. HOMAN testified saying, "The current limited entry system is a licensing system for a permit holder. Under that licensing system, it allows them to fish the maximum amount of gear allowed. The number of pots for the Southeast dungeness crab fishery is 300 pots. The fleet, over the last eight years, has been interested in limiting the number of vessels because of the impact on the resource and the increased number of participants. The commission has been reluctant, in the past, to limit this fishery because the current number of pots being fished are estimated to be about 45,000 pots. If we go to a limited entry system under the regime we have now, it would mean that each of the participants in the fishery, which is approximately 300, would be able to fish the maximum number of pots. We would then have the potential for 90,000 pots. We think it's counter productive to allow a system where the capacity would double if you limited it." MR. HOMAN further stated, "The moratorium that was adopted four years ago, gave a period of time to look at the fishery and some public discussion. The proposal before you gained a lot of interest because it would lead to the diversity of the fleet. You would have both large and small boats and those that are participating would remain in the fishery. It would keep everybody fishing at approximately the current level of the total pots. A proportional number of pots to the maximum number or what they're calling a tierred pot system could be the system in the future. It makes sense on the side of resource conservation because it keeps the pot level at the existing level." MR. HOMAN also said, "The bill is forward orientated. It doesn't apply to any fisheries that are existing. This wouldn't affect any existing limited entry fisheries. It would not affect the salmon fisheries at all, since they're all limited. It doesn't affect the Board of Fisheries ability to change those limitations in the future. If we had a proportional entry permit, that permit would fluctuate with whatever the board maximum was. Depending on how the proportional permit would finally come out, there would be groupings of pot limits. There would always be a way for people to sell a smaller number of pot permit to buy up to a larger number of pots. There would be ways for new entrants or part-timers to come into the fishery at a lower level and work their way up. We would also support the amendment that Mr. Grussendorf referred to. On page two of the bill, lines 22 and 23, there is a sentence that says, 'The fishing capacity allowed under a entry permit cannot be changed after the permit is issued.' That could cause a conflict if we had a limitation on the permit, and the Board of Fishery later changed that limit." Number 588 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said, "If you don't have the ability to tier the system then there are two things that could happen. The Board of Fishery might be required to go back in and reduce the 300 pot limit to 150 pots. Would the other option be, to issue fewer permits?" MR. HOMAN said, "They couldn't issue any fewer permits as stated in the statutes. The options available to us if this bill does not pass is a limited entry system based on what we have now. That would be everyone with the ability to fish the maximum number of pots. Another option would be not to do anything. That means that on January 2, 1996 this fishery would go back to open access. There would be no limitations and anybody could come into it. During the public hearings that we held, there was a lot of discussion about what kind of limitation system we should have. The majority wanted a limited entry system of some kind. The pressure on the resource and the potential expansion of the fleet under open access was something that even those participating didn't want to see happen to it." REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said, "Without extending limited entry to the fishery and without the ability to tier the system, what we're doing is putting 90,000 pots in the water. A tier system also has the effect of allowing a person to buy into the fishery at a low level. That's something that does not exist in limited entry fisheries now." MR. HOMAN confirmed, "Representative Elton is correct in what he said." Number 640 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked if this fishery is too large to gauge how many pounds of production are sustainable on a year to year basis. MR. HOMAN stated, "The ADFG has a very limited ability to manage and do the research necessary to track the crab and populations. There is a lack of data in this fishery." Number 652 CHERI CRAWFORD testified via teleconference from Petersburg stating she wanted a limited entry program over a tier system. She said, "We should start with a reduced number of pots and take it from there." Number 674 MR. NORHEIM suggested, "Not to limit the gear and see how many pots hit the water. If it gets to be a problem, then the ADFG can deal with it at that time." Number 686 MR. HOMAN responded, "There was a restriction during the moratorium that those that fish during the moratorium would not be guaranteed a limited entry permit at the end of the moratorium, because the limited entry period of time goes back before the moratorium. The moratorium just stopped everything, so we could wait and see." Number 700 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS moved amendment number one. CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked for discussion on amendment number one. Without objection, amendment number one passed. Number 710 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON motioned to move HB 107 out of committee with individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN upon hearing no objections, moved HB 107 out of the House Special Committee on Fisheries, with individual recommendations.