Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/18/1996 05:06 PM FSH
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 538 - VESSEL MORATORIUM FOR HAIR CRAB FISHERY CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked Amy Daugherty to explain how the current committee substitute for HB 538 differed from the previous one. Number 0063 AMY DAUGHERTY, Committee Aide, House Special Committee on Fisheries, and Legislative Assistant to Representative Alan Austerman, said the committee substitute that had passed out of committee previously was a general moratorium for the Bering Sea Korean Hair Crab. After it reached the House Rules Committee, there had been misgivings about it, especially by the representative of the district most directly affected by the bill. MS. DAUGHERTY explained the current draft established a five-mile buffer area around the Pribilof Islands, to be utilized exclusively by small crabbing vessels no greater than 58 feet in length. Ms.Daugherty said a compromise among many people had been reached and that, to her knowledge, everyone was currently satisfied with it. Number 0178 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON made a motion to adopt work draft 9- LS1736\Z, dated 4/18/96, CSSB 538. There being no objection, it was so ordered. MS. DAUGHERTY referred to the intent language on page 2, lines 15- 16, and said, "The Department of Fish and Game has been through this document and this plan, and they felt very strongly that we needed to leave the ... 100 percent observer program intact, or at least put intent language in there so that that would remain." CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if that was new language. MS. DAUGHERTY affirmed that. Number 0270 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON noted that it maintained 100 percent observer coverage for all vessels engaged. He asked if that meant skiff fishermen around the Pribilofs would need an observer aboard. MS. DAUGHERTY replied that the department was concerned about the resource. There were also several other species of crab in the area. "That's exactly what it is right now, 100 percent crab observer coverage," she said. "Since we are essentially providing for that fishery, they wanted us to include that. The industry has not resisted that yet." She pointed out that within the five-mile zone, there was not much of an industry, nor many boats 58 feet or less. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested it was almost mutually exclusive language if they were trying to establish a skiff fishery. Number 0361 MS. DAUGHERTY explained it was not a skiff fishery. "I'm sure the waters are way too rough for a skiff fishery," she said. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON replied he may be misstating it. He asked whether a boat in the small-boat fleet off the Pribilofs would be required to have an observer on board. MS. DAUGHERTY affirmed that. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON maintained that it still might be mutually exclusive. CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN noted there was already 100 percent coverage with the existing fishery. If more boats were entering the fishery, the department wanted to continue to have 100 percent coverage to protect this fragile fishery. Chairman Austerman called on Mr. Winther to testify. Number 0433 JOHN WINTHER testified that he owned a vessel that fished for hair crab in the Bering Sea. He agreed there had been compromises on both sides and said, "Our group can live with what's been done here. We're happy with it. And the alternative, we know, would be nothing. And if that happens, after this year, we can forget about trying to do something for the fisheries because of the added effort that will come into the fisheries the next season, November1." Mr. Winther indicated the reason there was currently 100 percent observer coverage was the high number of small king crab stocks in the general area, the by-catch for which the department wanted to monitor closely. "So, they want to continue to have 100 percent observer coverage on any vessel that might participate in this fishery," he said. "And it's a real fine line. You can be fishing along and, all of a sudden, just get into the king crab. And they have to monitor that very closely." Mr. Winther thanked everyone for their work in reaching the compromise. Number 0530 CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there was discussion. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS made a motion that CSHB 538 move from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN objected so that his presence could be noted, then withdrew his objection. CHAIRMAN AUSTERMAN asked if there were further objections. There being none, CSHB 538 moved from the House Special Committee on Fisheries.