Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/28/2003 08:33 AM House FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  98-SPORT FISHING SEASONS FOR YOUTH                                                                                        
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 98, "An Act  relating to sport fishing seasons and                                                               
areas for persons under 16 years of age."                                                                                       
Number 0067                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS,  sponsor  of  HB 98,  mentioned  that  a                                                               
provision  exists in  statute for  the Board  of Game  that gives                                                               
authority to  the Board of  Game to establish  age-specific youth                                                               
hunts for  those [not  more than  17 years  of age]  - an  age at                                                               
which  a license  to  hunt is  not necessary.    He informed  the                                                               
committee that this allows the  Board of Game to have father-and-                                                               
son hunts,  for example  and to  limit the  number of  hunters in                                                               
areas where animal populations are  limited; it also allows young                                                               
children the opportunity  to go out and enjoy what  Alaska has to                                                               
offer.    He stated  that  HB  98  is  a similar  provision,  but                                                               
pertains to the Board of Fisheries.                                                                                             
Number 0164                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said  that HB 98 is aimed  mostly, but not                                                               
solely, at  urban environments,  so that kids  in the  cities who                                                               
don't have a chance to go out  and catch a salmon can have access                                                               
to that experience.   He referred to  several possibilities, such                                                               
as stocking king  salmon at Campbell Creek or having  a kids' day                                                               
at  Ship  Creek,  saying  that  HB  98  would  allow  the  Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G) and the Board  of Fisheries to                                                               
better  manage  the fisheries  and  would  also afford  kids  the                                                               
chance to  enjoy the  sport of  fishing.   Representative Samuels                                                               
concluded by saying "this is apple pie, Mr. Chairman."                                                                          
Number 0214                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  said she  thought that  kids 14  years old                                                               
and  under  did  not  need  a license,  but  had  been  informed,                                                               
informally, by committee members that the age was 16 and under.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  said  this  bill does  not  mandate  but                                                               
rather  simply gives  the  Board of  Fisheries  the authority  to                                                               
allow for a fishery for persons under  the age of 16.  He pointed                                                               
out that the Board of Fisheries  already allows for a fishery for                                                               
senior citizens - for persons 60 years of age and older.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  asked if  this might  mean that  that kids                                                               
who were  under 16 years of  age could go out  fishing with their                                                               
dads, but the dads couldn't fish.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS confirmed that this was so.                                                                              
Number 0302                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS referred to a  silver [coho salmon] run in                                                               
a  stream  that runs  through  his  neighborhood where  everybody                                                               
fishes, commenting that ADF&G sets  the regulatory environment so                                                               
that there are not too many people  there.  He said that ADF&G is                                                               
concerned about the traffic patterns  at that location as well as                                                               
at Bird  Creek, outside of  Anchorage.   He indicated that  HB 98                                                               
assists  with  limiting  the  number  of  fishermen  as  well  as                                                               
allowing "the  neighborhood kid  to walk down  there and  catch a                                                               
fish  without  being trampled  to  death  at a  Ship  Creek--type                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  suggested that  this bill  might encourage                                                               
more participation on the part of the dads.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  said there are  a lot of people  who live                                                               
in  Anchorage who  cannot get  out  of town  to go  to where  the                                                               
salmon are;  he reiterated that  this bill offers  an opportunity                                                               
"for a kid to catch a fish."                                                                                                    
Number 0411                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  added that there  was a zero  fiscal note                                                               
accompanying the bill.                                                                                                          
Number 0422                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON  referred to the  Homer Spit Lagoon, which  at times                                                               
is open for snagging and becomes a  real rat race.  He noted that                                                               
HB 98 allows for kids to fish  on a different day, or perhaps for                                                               
half of a day, saying that this would be advantageous.                                                                          
Number 0492                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  mentioned that  the bill  has more  to do                                                               
with families than it has to do with fish.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  asked  if  the  bill  only  pertained  to                                                               
Alaskan [residents].                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS said  that this  would apply  to anybody,                                                               
noting that a  license is not necessary if a  person is under the                                                               
age of 16.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR  SEATON said  the  person would  need  to demonstrate  that                                                               
he/she was under the age of 16.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  wondered how  ADF&G determines  the truth                                                               
of a situation  in which a person  claims to be under  the age of                                                               
16 and therefore does not possess a license.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON similarly wondered  how proof of a person's                                                               
age would  be confirmed, since [a  person] under 16 years  of age                                                               
does not have identification.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  indicated that  if a  person is  under 16                                                               
years of age, he/she can already  go fishing without the need for                                                               
a  license.   He  said  if a  problem  [regarding  proof of  age]                                                               
exists, it exists independently of  this bill; this bill does not                                                               
exacerbate that problem.                                                                                                        
Number 0603                                                                                                                     
KELLY  HEPPLER,   Director,  Division   of  Sport   Fish,  Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish & Game,  testified that the department is very                                                               
supportive of HB  98.  He said  that in working for  the Board of                                                               
Fisheries for  more than  20 years,  there were  many discussions                                                               
from  users and  advisory committees  indicating interest  in the                                                               
capabilities being expressed  in this bill.  He  pointed out that                                                               
this gives the Board of Fisheries  an option; it does not issue a                                                               
mandate.   He  suggested  that the  procedure  would involve  the                                                               
normal public process of adopting  the proposal and would involve                                                               
the local communities.                                                                                                          
Number 0707                                                                                                                     
MR. HEPPLER  continued by saying  that enhancing  the opportunity                                                               
to  "get  kids  excited  about fishing"  contributes  to  Alaskan                                                               
traditions  such   as  hunting   and  fishing,   suggesting  that                                                               
involving kids away  from computers and malls in  urban areas can                                                               
be a positive thing.  He said  he was thinking of the Homer Spit,                                                               
where  there   might  be   an  opportunity   for  a   "take  your                                                               
daughter/son fishing day," wherein  other people could be cleared                                                               
out  of the  area and  just the  kids could  be there  with their                                                               
families.   He mentioned Campbell  Creek as  an area that  is now                                                               
very healthy,  since there  are about  700 or  800 fish  over the                                                               
escapement  goal.    He  suggested that  with  60,000  or  70,000                                                               
registered anglers  in Anchorage, opening  up the area  to adults                                                               
would cause some concern.  However,  opening it up for one or two                                                               
days of "kid  fishing" would be "a neat opportunity  for a kid to                                                               
get a  king salmon  in a  small stream,"  because he/she  may not                                                               
have  that opportunity  anyplace else.   He  also mentioned  Twin                                                               
Lakes in  Juneau as  another area  where fish  are stocked.   Mr.                                                               
Heppler  concluded his  testimony  by referring  to  a letter  of                                                               
support  in the  committee  packet  that was  from  the Board  of                                                               
Number 0835                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS asked  Mr. Heppler how the  correct age of                                                               
a youth was determined.                                                                                                         
MR. HEPPLER responded  that because a lot of high  school kids in                                                               
Anchorage  are required  to have  identification cards,  there is                                                               
some sort  of identification  being carried.   He stated  that in                                                               
fairness, oftentimes  there is faith and  trust when interviewing                                                               
kids when you "look them in  the eye" because there are some kids                                                               
who look like they  are 22 or 23, and some  who look younger than                                                               
16.   Mr. Heppler said  that when there's  been a problem  in the                                                               
past, for  example, when  somebody under 16  is seen  breaking an                                                               
obvious law, the  parents are always called.  He  said the parent                                                               
would be called right there from  the stream bank.  He added that                                                               
this hasn't really been a problem in the past.                                                                                  
CHAIR SEATON asked  if there was any anticipation  of fines being                                                               
suggested by the Board of Fisheries.   He also asked if the Board                                                               
of Game experienced the types of problems being discussed.                                                                      
Number 0973                                                                                                                     
MR. HEPPLER said that to his  knowledge the Board of Game had one                                                               
hunt  outside of  Fairbanks  that he  thought  turned out  pretty                                                               
well.  He reported that 15 or  16 moose were taken that would not                                                               
have  been  taken  otherwise  and   that  there  were  no  safety                                                               
complaints; people  were happy  and the parents  were happy.   He                                                               
said  [regarding HB  98] he'd  like to  get a  note out,  letting                                                               
people  know  of the  opportunity  -  certainly to  the  advisory                                                               
committees  - indicating  a  "heads up"  and  then involving  the                                                               
public process around the state for discussion.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  offered that almost everybody  who travels                                                               
on  the  airlines   these  days  needs  to  have   some  sort  of                                                               
identification.   She said  that it  is probably  fairly standard                                                               
that kids also need to have identification.                                                                                     
MR.  HEPPLER said  he hoped  that they  all have  identification,                                                               
adding  that when  the kids  are small,  identification has  been                                                               
obtained  through the  [Alaska  State Troopers.]    He said  that                                                               
although "not everybody has that,"  identification has not been a                                                               
problem in  the past.   He commented that the  department doesn't                                                               
like to put kids in handcuffs to haul them off to jail.                                                                         
Number 1075                                                                                                                     
KATHY HANSEN,  Juneau-Douglas Fish  and Game  Advisory Committee,                                                               
testified that the advisory committee  completely supports HB 98.                                                               
She  stated that  especially in  an  area such  as Juneau,  where                                                               
things  are   getting  more   restrictive,  it   is  increasingly                                                               
difficult to provide  good opportunities for the  younger kids to                                                               
fish.   She noted  that on one  of the streams  that kids  go to,                                                               
there was a  request for catch and release.   She emphasized that                                                               
it is slowly  becoming more difficult for families to  go out and                                                               
have those fun  fishing days because the need  to regulate occurs                                                               
more and more.   She stated that  this bill would be  a good tool                                                               
for  the Board  of Fisheries  to use  in the  future in  order to                                                               
combat some of  that.  Ms. Hansen concluded by  saying that other                                                               
advisory  committees, such  as those  in Wrangell  and Ketchikan,                                                               
are supportive  of this bill as  well, even though they  have not                                                               
taken an official action.                                                                                                       
Number 1232                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON moved  to report  HB 98  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objection, HB  98 was reported  from the                                                               
House Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                           

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