Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/08/1995 05:05 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                                              

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