Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/06/1996 05:10 PM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 538 - VESSEL MORATORIUM FOR HAIR CRAB FISHERY                            
                                                                               
 Number 0068                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN noted that the first item of business would be             
 HB 538.  He called upon Amy Daugherty to present the sponsor                  
 statement on behalf of the House Community and Regional Affairs               
 Committee, for which Representative Austerman is co-chairman.                 
                                                                               
 AMY DAUGHERTY, Legislative Assistant to Representative Alan                   
 Austerman, read the sponsor statement for HB 538:                             
                                                                               
 "In the 1980s, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducted an            
 experimental fishery for Korean hair crab.  Due to many unknowns at           
 that time about this extremely fragile species and the delicate               
 habitat in which it exists, the stocks were quickly depleted and              
 the fishery was closed.                                                       
                                                                               
 "By 1991, stocks had rebounded and two Alaskan-owned vessels were             
 able to conduct another experimental fishery in the immediate                 
 vicinity of the Pribilof Islands.                                             
                                                                               
 "Alaska fishermen, working cooperatively with ADF&G, have since               
 established permit guidelines pertaining to the configuration and             
 size of the pots used, as well as handling techniques to ensure               
 that these delicate animals are not harmed by the fishing effort.             
 To limit the effort, ADF&G has ensured the fishery is opened                  
 simultaneously with other crab fisheries in the Bering Sea.                   
                                                                               
 "Recently, however, dramatic declines in the harvest guidelines for           
 other crab stocks have resulted in additional effort entering the             
 Korean hair crab fishery.  The 15-20 vessels currently                        
 participating in the fishery have already marginalized the                    
 opportunities for the Alaskans who pioneered this fishery.                    
                                                                               
 "If this fishery, created by Alaskans, is to remain viable, entry             
 must be limited as soon as possible."                                         
                                                                               
 Number 0190                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. DAUGHERTY noted that there was a small amendment, the insertion           
 of one word, that had been provided in writing to the committee.              
                                                                               
 Number 0201                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN briefly mentioned reasons for introducing the              
 bill, including the small size of the fishery, the amount of effort           
 going toward it and its fragility.  "We knew we didn't have time              
 this year to get in any kind of a limited entry or real control on            
 that fishery," he said.  "The concept of this bill before you is to           
 basically put a moratorium on it to give us time to work on that              
 ... fisheries."                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0292                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN asked if there were incidental catches in           
 other crab fisheries or whether hair crab was a targeted,                     
 individual, specific fishery that only went after those particular            
 crabs.                                                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN suggested that representatives from the                    
 Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) could be asked that question.             
 He noted that the amendment mentioned by Ms. Daugherty was on page            
 2, line 25, and agreed to call it Amendment 1.                                
                                                                               
 Number 0370                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON moved that Amendment 1 be adopted.  There            
 being no objection, it was so ordered.                                        
                                                                               
 JOHN WINTHER testified that he was a Petersburg resident who got              
 started in commercial fishing in 1964 in Juneau, moving in 1973 to            
 the Bering Sea, where he built a crab boat and had fished ever                
 since.  He said his vessel became involved in the hair crab                   
 fisheries in 1994.  Although there were 11 vessels at the time,               
 there had only been three or four vessels a couple of years prior             
 to that.  "It's one of the few fisheries that's managed by the                
 state of Alaska without a fisheries management plan under the                 
 council, so there's no jurisdiction under the council to do                   
 anything - it lies with the state of Alaska," he explained.  He               
 mentioned that the season started November 1; in 1995, 15-18 boats            
 showed up.  Mr. Winther indicated the fishery had a quota of 1.5              
 million pounds.  The crabs, which were small and fragile, were                
 usually caught one to three at a time, per pot.  They were                    
 specially processed and marketed and required being taken to shore            
 every few days.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0489                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WINTHER suggested that with the big influx of vessels, there              
 would be management problems.  The department had indicated if the            
 effort could not be controlled, they would shut down the fishery              
 because they could not manage it with the number of boats coming              
 in.  "So, those of us in the fisheries got together," Mr. Winther             
 explained, "and see if we could do something about it through the             
 state.  And in the process, we learned that the current system in             
 place allows only a license to go to an individual.  And in the               
 Bering Sea, the fisheries are probably 99 percent nonowner skippers           
 on board those boats.  So if that system went into place, then all            
 these nonowner skippers would have the ticket to fish and there's             
 nothing to keep them on board your boat.  And they'd go someplace             
 else and there you're stuck."  Mr. Winther referred to the early              
 days of the fishery and said, "the four or five boats that were in            
 there were all Alaska residents."  He added, "Now, there's still              
 four or five boats in there and there's 15 Seattle boats."  He                
 emphasized that the dilution of Alaska participants was increasing            
 rapidly.  "We had a major share," he said, "but now we don't."                
 They were therefore asking the legislature for a moratorium and to            
 give the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) the authority           
 to implement a vessel license program.  "Because up there, it's not           
 like other local fisheries where you're working out of your home              
 all the time," he said.  "Up there, when you leave home, you're               
 gone for months at a time and it's just not conducive to a skipper-           
 type of limited entry system," he said, referring to salmon and               
 herring fishery management.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0609                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WINTHER emphasized that a key point of the bill was the 1996              
 cut-off date.  "Because the season will open again November 1,                
 1996," he said, "and any more effort coming in - it'll probably               
 double again, because our other fisheries that start on that date,            
 namely, the red king crab fisheries, we don't have that anymore."             
 For example, the bairdi crab fishery that usually opened at the               
 same time would not happen this year due to decreased stocks.  "So            
 that's going to leave this one the only one to hit," he said.  He             
 expressed concern that with increased boats, the season would be              
 short and uneconomical, whereas now, although it was marginal for             
 the boats already there, it was economical.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0684                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WINTHER concluded by saying the fishery was slow and required             
 careful handling of the crabs, which were specially marketed in               
 Japan.  "All these crabs are brought onshore in Alaska," he said,             
 indicating crabs from some other fisheries were processed offshore.           
                                                                               
 Number 0709                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS asked where the crab were found.                    
                                                                               
 MR. WINTHER referred to a wall map and said they were found in a              
 "block around the Pribilof Islands," which was the only area with             
 an amount to provide a fishery currently.  "And the crabs are so              
 fragile, you can't even fish in rough weather," he said.  "You've             
 got to stop.  Where you would keep on fishing in the other                    
 fisheries, you stop because of the tossing around in the tank, the            
 handling of them on the deck, things like that."                              
                                                                               
 Number 0769                                                                   
                                                                               
 GORDON BLUE testified he owned a vessel named the Ocean Cape that           
 had been involved since the reopening of the Korean hair crab                 
 fishery around the Pribilofs in 1991.  He was a participating                 
 partner and manager of a second vessel, which was also owned by the           
 community development quota (CDQ) and Native village corporation              
 for St. Paul.  "So, we have strong local participation in that                
 vessel," he explained.  "It was put together largely to bring some            
 real local participation to this fishery."                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0831                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. BLUE said, "I want to underscore John Winters' statements about           
 the fragility of these crab."  He explained there was a rapid                 
 build-up in the early 1980s from vessels displaced from Bristol Bay           
 red king crab when that fishery collapsed.  "We had, I think, 76              
 vessels in '82, something like that, in the fishery, all fishing              
 with whatever pots they could use, and they delivered about two               
 million pounds of product; and then the fishery collapsed.  Now,              
 the present fishery is sustaining nearly that much product.  I                
 believe the difference is that we handle the crab differently.  We            
 have a very limited type of gear that the Department of Fish and              
 Game has worked to standardize for the industry.  It's a small pot            
 that's fished on long lines and it's specially designed for this              
 fishery.  It limits by-catch and it limits handling of the ... crab           
 that we do retain.  We land them on a sorting table that is                   
 specially cushioned and we just handle them very carefully.  And I            
 think that reduction in mortality is only possible with the                   
 relatively small amount of effort in vessels that are in the                  
 fishery now."   Mr. Blue noted that the by-catch that occurred in             
 the bairdi crab fishery in the area was relatively small.  He said            
 the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) had allowed some by-catch             
 landings after that fishery reopened; however, there was a lot of             
 dead-loss and they were then outlawed.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 0945                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. BLUE emphasized the importance of the fishery to St. Paul                 
 residents, who had worked hard to establish a no-trawl zone around            
 the islands, which ADF&G had helped with, to protect habitat for              
 the Korean hair crab, as well as for king crab in the area.  "And             
 that seems to be paying off," Mr. Blue said.  "There's a small                
 fishery in each of those that's now allowed.  If the vessels that             
 are displaced by the closure of red king crab in Bristol Bay, which           
 is expected to extend into at least the next season, continued to             
 come into the fishery at the rate they have, it will be basically             
 unmanageable."  He noted that for the 1992-1993 season, the Ocean            
 Cape had fished from November until March.  "Last year," he said,            
 "we fished for three weeks."  He added that ADF&G had expressed               
 doubt that the fishery could be managed in a sustainable fashion if           
 the fleet increased further.  "And I think this is the cleanest,              
 simplest way that there is available to allow the number of vessels           
 to be capped," he said, referring to HB 538.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1031                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. BLUE continued, "It also allows that the community of St. Paul            
 has some participation in the fishery."  He noted that if licenses            
 went through the normal CFEC process and were awarded to skippers,            
 St. Paul's vessels would have four licenses that qualified, but the           
 community would have nothing out of that.  They would still have              
 their share of the boat, but no rights to the fishery or licenses.            
                                                                               
 Number 1059                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. BLUE expressed it would be nice if the fishery were for small             
 boats.  Locals had been out in the early '80s in pioneering efforts           
 to explore the waters around St. Paul for this resource.                      
 "Unfortunately, the biology of the crab is such that they are soft            
 shell," he said.  "When we were closed in March of '93, it was for            
 soft-shell condition, and when we fished in the summer months and             
 into the beginning of September, the crab were soft.  So they're              
 very fragile and with any effort at all, there's grave danger to              
 the resource.  So we're looking at what's basically a large-boat              
 fishery.  It's going to run no earlier than October for the                   
 condition, and the season opener is now November 1st until, at                
 latest, March."  He added that the people of St. Paul had told him            
 they supported the moratorium.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 1131                                                                   
                                                                               
 EARL KRYGIER, Program Manager, Extended Jurisdiction Section,                 
 Division of Commercial Fisheries Management and Development,                  
 Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), explained he dealt with waters           
 external to the three-mile limit.  He pointed out that the bulk of            
 the Korean hair crab stock was located outside state waters, inside           
 what was known as the "EEZ."                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1170                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER said, "The problem that you might consider would be               
 whether or not the state should be concerned in management of a               
 fishery in federal waters."  Under the Magnuson Act, which had                
 authority over the zone from three to 200 miles offshore in the               
 United States, a state could only expand its authority into federal           
 waters outside the boundaries of the state to those vessels                   
 registered under the laws of the state.  "So, if you have a state             
 registration," he said, "we can externally manage that vessel's               
 fishing activities."  The most important exception to that was when           
 a federal fisheries management plan existed for a fishery, with the           
 bulk of the fishery occurring in federal waters.  "Since there is             
 no federal fishery management plan on hair crab," he said, "they're           
 left without any management other than state."                                
                                                                               
 Number 1235                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER explained that neither the North Pacific Fisheries                
 Management Council (NPFMC), which set up regulations for the EEZ,             
 nor the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which implemented           
 those regulations, was interested in bringing the hair crab fishery           
 under their management.  The hair crab fishery was small, with 12-            
 20 vessels at most, and required fairly intensive management.  "The           
 state has been managing this fishery since its inception," Mr.                
 Krygier said.  He mentioned the "Mr. Big" scallop vessel that                 
 fished in the Gulf of Alaska without any regulations and said,                
 "There's kind of a hole in the Magnuson Act that allowed that                 
 action to occur and the reason is that that vessel wasn't                     
 registered under the laws of the state."                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1288                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER continued, "In the Bering Sea, that problem really                
 doesn't exist, and particularly in this fishery, that problem does            
 not exist.  Because the vessels need to come to shore to drop off             
 their product and also because they need to support their                     
 activities with fuel and crew changes and everything else, they               
 need to use the state's docks and the state's waters to mount their           
 fishing operations.  And once they do that, they also need ... to             
 be registered under the laws of the state."  He noted that the                
 state was actively working with Senator Stevens to get new wording            
 in the reauthorization language for the Magnuson Act, which should            
 occur in the next few months.  That would give the state authority            
 directly to manage fisheries that either were delegated from NPFMC            
 to the state or which did not have a fishery management plan.  "In            
 other words, it will clear up the Mr. Big loophole," he said.  He             
 added, referring to HB 538, "For those reasons, I think this is               
 probably a reasonable thing for you to consider."                             
                                                                               
 Number 1346                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked what ADF&G's position was as to the need             
 for the moratorium.                                                           
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER referred to the small size of the fishery.  "When there           
 was a lot of activity in that fishery before," he said, "the                  
 fishery did collapse.  Obviously, if you can have control over the            
 amount of access into a fishery, you don't have the problem of                
 controlling the harvest."  He indicated most of the major crab                
 fisheries were currently undergoing very significant and                      
 precipitous stock declines, resulting in a lot of crab vessels in             
 the Bering Sea / Aleutian Islands area with little else to do.                
 "The Bristol Bay red crab fishery hasn't opened for two years," he            
 said.  "We had a very poor showing of the tanner crab fishery in              
 Bristol Bay this last year; whether that fishery even opens next              
 year ... we'll know after the summer survey.  The Opilio stocks,              
 which have been kind of running the fishery for quite awhile, ...             
 are at a much lower level than they've been."  Mr. Krygier noted              
 that whereas the Opilio harvest had been almost 300 million pounds            
 a few years earlier, just over 50 million pounds were harvested               
 this year.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1433                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER pointed out that 350 - 400 crab vessels fished in the             
 Bering Sea.  "Their main source of income is very restricted right            
 now," he said.  "So, they are going to be looking for other things            
 to do.  And certainly, from an economic standpoint, it makes a lot            
 of sense for the fleets to protect that.  The council itself has              
 passed a license limitation program for the rest of the crab                  
 fisheries.  So, this is sitting out there with no limitation under            
 it.  Because it isn't under a fishery management plan, the council            
 didn't deal with it.  But all the rest of the crab fisheries will             
 now have a license limitation program under them.  From a                     
 biological standpoint, when you get too many people fishing, and              
 people who are forced to fish because of economic reasons, it makes           
 the fishery unmanageable."                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1484                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked about the collapse that occurred before              
 from overfishing.                                                             
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER replied he was not the manager for that fishery and               
 thought it occurred in the mid-1980s.                                         
                                                                               
 MR. BLUE suggested it was 1984.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1509                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked about the need to bring hair crabs to a            
 processing site a couple of days after being caught.                          
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER responded, "My understanding of the fishery, as far as            
 the actual product that they sell in Japan that has the high-value            
 price, is that it comes directly in within a few days and is flown            
 over to Japan whole."                                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS clarified he was thinking about what would               
 happen if other fisheries collapsed and someone with a Seattle                
 ship, for instance, wanted to come in.  "This will get Alaska-                
 registered ships," he said, "and you think you're catching the                
 problem because they have to come to a local port," requiring them            
 to fall under state regulations.  He suggested there might be a               
 loophole there.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1576                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER explained the scenario being described was the "Mr.               
 Big" scenario, fishing directly out of Seattle and not coming into            
 state waters.  "The whole Bering Sea crab fishery technically is              
 open to that loophole," he said, "where a vessel could come in and            
 fish anywhere without seasons or limits.  Number one, I think the             
 whole fleet has learned very clearly that we will shut the whole              
 waters down, as we did with the scallop fishery - and now, we're              
 stuck and we can't reopen them, and so, everyone is suffering.  And           
 even the people who were the bad guys in that situation are trying            
 to get us to reopen the fishery and we can't because they put us in           
 a technical nightmare.  So, that's one problem, that's one issue.             
 The second is, the vessels fishing in the Bering Sea, they need               
 support with fuel and crew."  He suggested they would have to go              
 back through Seattle to get those.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1628                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER said that third, for vessels fishing in Alaska out of             
 Washington, every insurer of those vessels required them to be                
 registered so the vessels could have access to Alaska ports in the            
 event of a breakdown.  "If a vessel went out there and was a bandit           
 and they broke down, if they came into port, we'd seize them.  And            
 their insurance companies don't want to have that happen," he said.           
 "So, those kinds of things lead us to believe that we're not going            
 to have those types of problems in the Bering Sea area."                      
                                                                               
 Number 1657                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if there had been a precedence for this             
 type of action before, in other fisheries, by the legislature.                
                                                                               
 FRANK HOMAN, Commissioner, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission              
 (CFEC), stated this was an important piece of legislation.  He                
 pointed out CFEC had as a model the Southeast dungeness crab                  
 fishery, for which the legislature had instituted a moratorium.               
 During that four-year moratorium, CFEC had worked with the fleet              
 and ADF&G to design a program that CFEC then instituted to limit              
 that fishery last year.  "So, the model does work and it has been             
 very successful in including all of the major participants in the             
 fleet," he said.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1727                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. HOMAN discussed aspects of HB 538 that CFEC thought were                  
 important.  First, it stopped expansion.  Under the current limited           
 entry law, CFEC was not able to establish a vessel license program;           
 they only had an individual license program.  "So, in the time it             
 would take to come through the legislature with a major piece of              
 legislation," he said, "there would probably be a disaster in that            
 fishery out there if no action was taken to put a moratorium or a             
 restriction on the amount of catch."  By this legislation, he                 
 explained, the CFEC would be directed to draft a vessel license               
 program during the moratorium.  They would work with the fleet and            
 ADF&G and bring it back to the legislature before the moratorium              
 would expire; the new program would therefore be put through the              
 public process.  "So, you'd have plenty of opportunity to see this            
 new system take shape over the next few years if this passes," he             
 concluded.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1797                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked about a fiscal note.                               
                                                                               
 MR. HOMAN replied there was a zero fiscal note because the fishery            
 was small and the minor increase in licensing for the moratorium              
 could be absorbed; their best guess was that two to three dozen               
 vessels would be dealt with.  If they subsequently designed a                 
 vessel limitation program, that would be put in future budgets.               
                                                                               
 Number 1857                                                                   
                                                                               
 WILLIAM ARTERBURN, Executive Vice-President, Pribilof Bering Sea              
 Foods, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, explaining that           
 the company was a subsidiary of a local village corporation, with             
 offices in Anchorage and St. Paul.  "We're very supportive of this            
 effort to limit the hair crab fishery," he said.  "I think under              
 the conditions that it's probably the only thing to do to maintain            
 a resource out there."  However, he wanted to make a case for local           
 participation in the fishery.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1899                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. ARTERBURN mentioned that the Central Bering Sea Fishermen's               
 Association had lobbied the NPFMC for a five-year bottom trawl                
 closure in Area 4C, primarily to protect hair crab and blue king              
 crab resources so that there would be an opportunity of a local               
 fishery out there.  That action predated the current fishery by               
 several years, he said.  He suggested that in the next four years,            
 the Pribilof community should have the opportunity to introduce a             
 minimum number of vessels into that fishery that would involve some           
 local ownership.  "We don't know how or have anything specific to             
 offer at this time," he said, "but we think they should be afforded           
 that opportunity."                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1959                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. ARTERBURN referred to AS 16.43.901, which discussed replacement           
 of vessels lost due to sinking or other causes, and recommended               
 that ADF&G adopt the management goal of 12-15 vessels, with re-               
 entries after dropping out, for whatever reason, being limited                
 until the management goal was achieved.  "We think this management            
 objective is well justified for conservation purposes," he added.             
                                                                               
 Number 1993                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. ARTERBURN indicated local St. Paul Island fishermen had a                 
 history of experimentation in the hair crab fishery dating back to            
 1979.  While several local vessels had made landings, it was                  
 uncertain whether those vessels would be credited.  "We think that            
 the department should make extra efforts - and the CFEC - in                  
 designing this program to work with the local fishermen and find              
 some ways to afford these local Aleut fishermen out there an                  
 opportunity to get involved in this fishery."  He further asked               
 that the state work with the local community to set up a shellfish            
 advisory board, as the area was one of the few in the Bering Sea              
 without such a board to advise ADF&G.  Mr. Arterburn emphasized the           
 hair crab fishery was local, with local resources in extremely                
 close approximation to the community.  "These guys don't have to              
 leave home in order to catch these fish," he said.  "They're                  
 literally an hour or two off their shores."  He reiterated the                
 desire to place a few local vessels in the fisheries over the next            
 several years.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 2084                                                                   
                                                                               
 LARRY MERCULIEFF, General Manager, Central Bering Sea Fishermen's             
 Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage,                     
 explaining the association, a CDQ organization in Western Alaska,             
 had 200 members including fishermen and their families from St.               
 Paul.  He stated support for efforts involving commercially prized            
 fish and crab stocks in the Bering Sea, including the Pribilof hair           
 crab stocks which they believed to be threatened.  He discussed the           
 no-trawl zone mentioned in previous testimony and the pioneering of           
 the hair crab fishery in 1979.  There had been several local boats,           
 which he listed by name, that had all made landings in that                   
 experimental fishery.  "And of course, once word got out," he said,           
 "the outside boats came in and overfished the stocks in the early             
 '80s and it crashed."  Until the hair crab fishery opened again in            
 1991, locals had to focus exclusively on the halibut fishery, which           
 was fully capitalized.  "We need to expand and we need to focus,              
 since it's a day boat fishery, on resources that are on our                   
 doorstep, and hair crab is one of them," he said.                             
                                                                               
 Number 2193                                                                   
                                                                               
 ROBERT OWENS, Attorney at Law, Copeland, Landye, Bennett & Wolf,              
 testified via teleconference from Anchorage, on behalf of Scandies            
 Limited Partnership, against HB 538.  He referred to earlier                  
 mention of the hair crab fishery being fragile and said that in the           
 sense of how the crab need to be handled, there was no dispute in             
 that.  However, in the sense of the health of the fishery itself,             
 Mr. Owens asserted that the population was growing, with increased            
 landings.  He suggested the analogy of the fishery in the 1980s,              
 when it crashed, failed to take into account that at that time, no            
 guidelines on harvest amounts were imposed.  It was an unrestricted           
 fishery then, whereas ADF&G now imposed limits.  He said references           
 to overfishing were merely recognizing the theoretical possibility            
 that if a lot of boats entered the fishery, it could become                   
 unmanageable by virtue of sheer numbers.  "That is not the case               
 today," he said.  He thought the special requirements for the                 
 fishery made it expensive to enter.  "The economics are such that             
 it is not likely to create a land rush type of approach by the                
 other boats in the Bering Sea," he suggested.                                 
                                                                               
 MR. OWENS said, "In general, this procedure does not follow the               
 recognized procedure that the legislature otherwise set out."  He             
 thought there was a risk of denying opportunity "by creating a very           
 exclusive club of people that had participated in this fisheries.             
 Reducing the number to 12 to 14 is a very small number."  He only             
 knew of one local boat that had been fishing and said the others              
 were not from that area.  "So, it's not going to create opportunity           
 for the local residents," he said.  "It closes a fishery and if               
 this model is followed further, it's going to deny the flexibility            
 necessary for crabbers to maintain an economic viability.  They               
 need the ability to move around among areas and among species to              
 keep their investments busy.  And, therefore, by creating little              
 pigeonholes of investment and development, in the long run, there's           
 a greater likelihood of calamitous financial disaster to those                
 fishermen who are pigeonholed, limited to where they can go and               
 what they can do."                                                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MOSES joined the meeting at 5:55 p.m.                          
                                                                               
 Number 2386                                                                   
                                                                               
 LINDA KOZAK, Kodiak Vessel Owners Association, testified via                  
 teleconference.  She emphasized that although the association had             
 historically been opposed to any form of limited entry and in                 
 support of opportunities to diversify in the Gulf of Alaska and the           
 Bering Sea, they nonetheless supported HB 538.                                
                                                                               
 Number 2407                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KOZAK indicated she had been informed by a representative from            
 ADF&G that due to current overcapitalization in the Korean hair               
 crab fishery, any further increase would result in closure of the             
 fishery.  Alaskan vessel owners who were members of the association           
 had expressed concern about being left out of a fishery they had              
 helped to pioneer and which they depended on.  Members of the                 
 association subsequently voted to support any efforts to ensure the           
 hair crab fishery remained viable for Alaskans.  The only way they            
 saw to do that was to stop new entry into the fishery.  Ms. Kozak             
 indicated the association had 12 vessels that participated in the             
 fishery.  They wanted to see the moratorium occur as soon as                  
 possible and she emphasized the importance of the July 1, 1996                
 date.  "There are individuals in the Seattle fishing fleet, in                
 particular, which are looking at this fishery," she said, "as it              
 possibly is the only viable fishery remaining in the Bering Sea."             
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-10, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0007                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KOZAK reiterated that while her group had historically opposed            
 limited entry in most forms, at this point in time, they saw there            
 was no other option in this fishery and urged passage of the                  
 legislation.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0044                                                                   
                                                                               
 PHILLIP LESTENKOF testified via teleconference from St. Paul,                 
 saying he was a local small-boat owner.  He emphasized that                   
 whatever limited entry system was put in place should allow for               
 local residents to be considered and not be left out.  Mr.                    
 Lestenkof indicated he long-lined for hair crab in 1982 on a 24-              
 foot vessel and also delivered in 1986.  He also crewed on a 26-              
 foot boat, running a string of 150 pots.  "At that time, our harbor           
 wasn't developed," he said.  "The harbor was right in the middle of           
 construction and we always had to pull our boats out," he added,              
 noting that they were also trying to develop a halibut fishery for            
 local boats at that time.  "The only economy we have here is right            
 in our back yard," he said, indicating the hair crab were close to            
 shore.  "We don't live on a very large island.  We don't have any             
 other kind of natural resources like timber or oil or anything else           
 that we can count on to develop a local economy."  He expressed               
 there had not been time to really get things going with the hair              
 crab.  Mr. Lestenkof reiterated that they did not want to be cut              
 out of the limited entry system and again asked that locals be                
 considered.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0218                                                                   
                                                                               
 SIMEON SWETZOF, JR., testified via teleconference from St. Paul,              
 saying he owned a boat, the Wind Dancer.  He supported the                  
 moratorium only if locals would have an opportunity to participate            
 in the fishery.  "It's very difficult to come up with financing to            
 be a participant in it," he said.  He expressed that if he could              
 not participate, he wanted for his children to be able to do so.              
 "You all know, we don't fish salmon, we don't do herring," he said,           
 adding that the only thing they fished was halibut.  "And we always           
 talk about wanting to participate in other fisheries," he said.  "I           
 don't want the doors slammed on this island as far as being a                 
 participant in the fisheries around the Pribilofs, the Bering Sea."           
                                                                               
 Number 0301                                                                   
                                                                               
 MYRON MELOVIDOV, Owner/Operator, F/V Aleut Crusader, testified via          
 teleconference from St. Paul that he participated in the                      
 experimental fishery in the 1980s.  He supported the moratorium but           
 wanted for the door to remain open for local residents to be part             
 of the fishery.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0364                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS referred to earlier testimony alleging there             
 was no current need for regulation.  He asked, if there was no                
 need, what regulations or laws were in place that allowed the state           
 to act.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 0398                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER replied that ADF&G basically managed the fishery                  
 through their local area biologist, who kept track of the landed              
 catch.  As fishermen brought in the crab, fish tickets were filled            
 out.  This provided total harvest and rate, allowing the                      
 performance in that fishery to be viewed.  Mr. Krygier explained              
 that when the number of participants increased, the ability to                
 predict fishery performance and what was actually occurring in the            
 fishery population became difficult.  "You either way overshoot or            
 way undershoot a quota when you have excessive participation," he             
 said, "because there's no way to in-season manage a crab fishery."            
                                                                               
 Number 0463                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "The department does not seem to have a             
 real good track record with anticipating crab stock crashes."  He             
 asked Mr. Krygier to relate his perspective on reasons why crab               
 fisheries had come and gone through the years.                                
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER responded, "That's a loaded question."  He indicated              
 that crab fisheries were difficult to predict as far as upswings              
 and downswings.  "A lot of it has to do with oceanographic                    
 conditions and recruitment," he said.  "Whereas you'll have a                 
 spawning event year after year, it's how successful is the progeny            
 to make it in to the proper habitat and then grow through the                 
 successive early age classes, so that it can recruit to the                   
 harvestable portion of the population.  And a lot of that has to do           
 with oceanographic conditions."  He added, "The other factor is               
 that in previous years, we really didn't manage as conservatively             
 as we should have.  We now recognize that a lot of the management             
 strategies that we had in past years were probably incorrect and              
 probably had some effect on allowing overharvest to occur.  The               
 department is becoming more and more conservative in its management           
 approach to any crab management, because those stocks are so                  
 volatile in their ability just to survive the normal recruitment              
 events."                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0557                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if fish politics had anything to do with            
 it.                                                                           
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER asked for clarification.                                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN expressed discouragement at "the urge to fish             
 today and to heck with tomorrow because we'll make the bucks now,             
 and then there we are, we don't have a fishery."                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CARL MOSES suggested that the situation as Mr.                 
 Krygier had explained it, regarding crab management, was the same             
 for pretty much all the fisheries, with too many boats chasing too            
 few fish.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0620                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER agreed.  "It's certainly difficult to manage any                  
 resource when the amount of capacity is so large that the ... time            
 it takes in which the fishery occurs is shorter and shorter," he              
 said, "because it doesn't allow you to get the in-season assessment           
 of fishery performance."  He added that for almost all of the                 
 stocks, ADF&G was underfunded in its ability to get out and assess            
 those stocks.  They had a pre-season estimate of the resource, but            
 without the in-season fishery performance, they could not really              
 determine whether the pre-season guess was correct and adequate to            
 reflect the actual health of that resource.                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER continued, "In the Bering Sea, we take one trawl sample           
 every 400 square miles to make our population estimates.  And over            
 a number of years, as we crisscross the Bering Sea and every 400              
 square miles take one little sample, we get a picture of what that            
 is in relationship to the size and the health of that particular              
 stock.  But it's only a guess.  And it's that in-season harvest               
 that goes on and how fast that goes in relationship to the number             
 of participants that allows us to say, `yes, this is a good pre-              
 season guess' or `no, it's a bad pre-season guess.'  And if it's a            
 bad one, we'll stop the fishery and close it off early."                      
                                                                               
 Number 0698                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON referred to testimony that the optimum fleet             
 size for the hair crab fishery should be 12-15, which was                     
 significantly lower than would result under HB 538.  He asked                 
 whether Mr. Krygier agreed with the 12-15 figure.                             
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER replied that he was not the manager of that fishery and           
 did not know the fishery well enough to answer the question.                  
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON referred to the local, small-boat fleet and              
 asked, "Do you manage fisheries now where you have -- if the quota,           
 say, is 1.8 million pounds -- where `x' number of pounds are for a            
 small-boat fishery or local fishery and `x' number of pounds for a            
 large-boat fishery?"                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0750                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER replied, "I believe that if the Board of Fisheries                
 wanted to develop a fishery management plan which would set aside             
 a portion of the harvest for various size[s] of vessels, they could           
 do that."                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0766                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked if the legislature could,                          
 constitutionally, mandate and legislate local support or                      
 preference.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. KRYGIER responded that was a little out of his field.  He then            
 explained that in the NPFMC process, "they have the ability to set            
 up, by vessel size categories, certain types of allocations."  He             
 added, "I believe that the board can probably also, by certain size           
 of vessel category, probably do some allocations within that.                 
 That's my guess.  I'm not an expert on that."                                 
                                                                               
 Number 0815                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN said, "I think there's been enough questions               
 raised here that we don't have answers to that we may want to hold            
 this bill for a few days and then come back to it."  He expressed             
 that he desired to see the bill move on but wanted to address those           
 questions.                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MOSES said, "One of my concerns is, if you're                  
 talking about 15 100-foot boats, it's probably a fishery that would           
 support maybe 30 or 40 50-foot boats.  So that's hard to stipulate            
 how many boats."                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked what other committees of referral there            
 were for the bill.                                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN responded, "This is the only committee."  He               
 added, "I guess that's one of the reasons I'm kind of hesitant to             
 moving it out tonight, because it is the first hearing we've had on           
 it.  This is the only committee of referral to this.  And there               
 have been a number of questions raised here that maybe some of the            
 members don't feel comfortable with yet."                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0873                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. HOMAN stated, "I know there were a number of questions raised             
 about how things might work.  And what the legislation directs the            
 commission to do during the period of the moratorium is to develop            
 a piece of draft legislation that would come to the legislature.              
 And in the development of that draft, we would solicit information            
 from the local people and those participating in the fleet.  And              
 then once the legislation was developed ... it would go through the           
 legislative process, where you would have public input.  And then,            
 if that was successful, it would still go through another stage;              
 when the commission would develop regulations, they would also go             
 back to the public for comment."                                              
                                                                               
 Number 0941                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS noted that it would be a moratorium for four             
 years.                                                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN said, "It does have a sunset on it."  With                 
 concurrence of the members, he left the bill in committee.                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects