Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/07/2017 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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10:02:01 AM Start
10:03:18 AM HB88
10:45:52 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
              HB 88-BOARD OF FISHERIES MEMBERSHIP                                                                           
10:03:18 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 88, "An  Act relating  to the composition  of the                                                               
Board of Fisheries."                                                                                                            
10:03:29 AM                                                                                                                   
REID HARRIS,  Staff, Representative  Louise Stutes,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  introduced HB  88 stating  that it  would serve  to                                                               
change the  composition of the  Board of Fisheries from  seven to                                                               
nine members.  He directed  attention to the committee packet and                                                               
the two  page handout  on the  sponsor's letterhead,  providing a                                                               
brief history and information about  the board.  Referring to the                                                               
document Mr.  Harris paraphrased sections of  the contents, which                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     DFG/BOF - Brief History                                                                                                  
     In  1949,  the   Territorial  Legislature  created  the                                                                    
     Alaska  Territorial Fishery  Service in  an attempt  to                                                                    
     influence   federal  management   practices  that   had                                                                    
     decimated   salmon   populations   in  Alaska.      The                                                                    
     Territorial Fishery Service had  no authority, but they                                                                    
     commented on  federal regulations,  conducted research,                                                                    
     and tried to influence the federal managers.                                                                               
     In 1957, in anticipation  of statehood, the Territorial                                                                    
     legislature  expanded and  renamed  the Alaska  Fishery                                                                    
     Service to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.                                                                         
     The  first  state  legislature (January  1959  -  March                                                                    
     1960) created the  Board of Fish and Game  and the fish                                                                    
     and  game advisory  committees system.    The Board  of                                                                    
     Fish and  Game consisted of nine  citizens appointed by                                                                    
     the Governor  and confirmed by  a majority vote  of the                                                                    
     legislature.     In   spring   1975,  the   legislature                                                                    
     separated  the Board  of Fish  and  Game into  separate                                                                    
     Boards, which continues today.                                                                                             
     About the Board                                                                                                          
     The  Alaska  Board  of   Fisheries  consists  of  seven                                                                    
     members   serving  three-year   terms.     Members  are                                                                    
     appointed  by   the  governor  and  confirmed   by  the                                                                    
     legislature.   Members  are appointed  on the  basis of                                                                    
     interest in  public affairs, good  judgment, knowledge,                                                                    
     and ability in  the field of action of  the board, with                                                                    
     a view  to providing  diversity of interest  and points                                                                    
     of  view   in  the   membership  (see   Alaska  Statute                                                                    
     The Board  of Fisheries' main  role is to  conserve and                                                                    
     develop  the  fishery resources  of  the  state.   This                                                                    
     involves  setting  seasons,  bag  limits,  methods  and                                                                    
     means for  the state's subsistence,  commercial, sport,                                                                    
     guided sport,  and personal use fisheries,  and it also                                                                    
     involves   setting  policy   and   direction  for   the                                                                    
     management  of  the  state's fishery  resources.    The                                                                    
     board is charged with  making allocative decisions, and                                                                    
     the department  is responsible for management  based on                                                                    
     those decisions.                                                                                                           
     The board has  a three-year meeting cycle  (PDF 32 kB).                                                                    
     The  meetings  generally  occur  from  October  through                                                                    
     March.  The Board of  Fisheries meets four to six times                                                                    
     per year  in communities  around the state  to consider                                                                    
     proposed  changes to  fisheries regulations  around the                                                                    
     state.      The   board   uses   the   biological   and                                                                    
     socioeconomic  information   provided  by   the  Alaska                                                                    
     Department of  Fish and  Game, public  comment received                                                                    
     from  people  inside  and outside  of  the  state,  and                                                                    
     guidance from the Alaska Department of                                                                                     
     Public  Safety  and  Alaska   Department  of  Law  when                                                                    
     creating regulations that are sound and enforceable.                                                                       
     Board Process                                                                                                            
     Board of Fisheries                                                                                                       
     The  Board  of  Fisheries  is  the  state's  regulatory                                                                    
     authority  that  passes  regulations  to  conserve  and                                                                    
     develop  Alaska's fisheries  resources.   The Board  of                                                                    
     Fisheries  is   charged  with  making   allocative  and                                                                    
     regulatory  decisions.   The board  has seven  members,                                                                    
     each appointed by  the governor for a  three year term.                                                                    
     Each member  must be  confirmed by  a joint  session of                                                                    
     the state legislature.                                                                                                     
     The  commissioner is  the principal  executive for  the                                                                    
     Alaska  Department of  Fish and  Game; responsible  for                                                                    
     the    protection,   management,    conservation,   and                                                                    
     restoration of Alaska's fish and game resources.                                                                           
     Joint Board                                                                                                              
     The  Joint   Board  of  Fisheries  and   Game  set  the                                                                    
     regulations for  advisory committee guidelines.   These                                                                    
     include  the  establishment   of  advisory  committees,                                                                    
     setting the number  of seats by community  if more than                                                                    
     one  community is  represented  on  the committee,  and                                                                    
     setting the guidelines for  uniform rules of operation.                                                                    
     The composition  of advisory committees can  be changed                                                                    
     by the  Joint Board after  they receive a  proposal and                                                                    
     meet to act on the proposal.                                                                                               
     Advisory Committees                                                                                                      
     Advisory committees are the  local groups authorized by                                                                    
     state law  to provide recommendations to  the boards on                                                                    
     fishing and  wildlife issues.  There  are 84 committees                                                                    
     throughout  the   state  each   with  expertise   in  a                                                                    
     particular  local area.   Meetings  are always  open to                                                                    
     the  public and  are generally  attended by  department                                                                    
     staff  and   members  of  the  public   who  can  offer                                                                    
     background  information  on  agenda topics.    Advisory                                                                    
     Committees  are intended  to provide  a local  forum on                                                                    
     fish  and  wildlife  issues, and  are  critical  policy                                                                    
     bodies to the boards.                                                                                                      
MR. HARRIS  referred to the  attached $85,300 fiscal  note, which                                                               
covers travel  and per diem  for members attending meetings.   He                                                               
said the  details of the expenses  are provided on page  2 of the                                                               
note,  and   pointed  out   the  personal   services  honorariums                                                               
[$14,958]  and travel  [$9,990] costs  to call  attention to  the                                                               
increases shown;  previous three  year averages were  $12,700 and                                                               
7,800 respectively.                                                                                                             
CHAIR STUTES opened public testimony.                                                                                           
10:06:57 AM                                                                                                                   
RICHARD  DAVIS,  Representative, Seafood  Producers  Cooperative,                                                               
stated  opposition  to  HB  88,   paraphrasing  from  a  prepared                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     Our  association is  unaware of  even isolated  fishing                                                                    
     industry  support,  or  any  compelling  rationale  for                                                                    
     increasing the size of the Board of Fish.                                                                                  
     Governor selections  for appointment to  Alaska's Board                                                                    
     of Fish will always  be subjective and controversial to                                                                    
     somebody.    (Effort to  appease  or  please a  greater                                                                    
     number of Alaskans by increasing  the number of choices                                                                    
     at the "Pot Luck" will only intensify the Food Fight.)                                                                     
     Reducing  expense,  and  cost  of  government  and  the                                                                    
     budget deficit, render  additional expenses required to                                                                    
     support an enlarged BOF, unaffordable and unnecessary.                                                                     
     Conflict  of  interest   requirements  that  commercial                                                                    
     fishermen  and Alaskans  with economic  family ties  to                                                                    
     fish resources  must conform to,  and comply  with, are                                                                    
     the  essential  BOF  change that  our  industry  is  on                                                                    
     record trying to achieve over the past three decades.                                                                      
     We   submit  humbly   that   satisfying  the   public's                                                                    
     expectations  of  the  Board   of  Fish  process  is  a                                                                    
     subjective exercise that  two additional BOF appointees                                                                    
     will not accomplish.                                                                                                       
10:09:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  acknowledged that  striking a  balance, when                                                               
seating the  board, has been  a long standing issue;  however, HB
88  doesn't address  that  issue.   The  bill  adds members,  but                                                               
doesn't designate the seats to  a member representing a user type                                                               
or region.   Concerns  also revolve around  members having  to be                                                               
conflicted out  of deliberations  due to business  interests, she                                                               
added, and asked for comment.                                                                                                   
MR. DAVIS  predicted that [fishery/user]  allocations will  be an                                                               
issue in the state as long as only  one board is in charge, as it                                                               
has  been  a continuing  rub.    He  recalled that  the  previous                                                               
governor (Sean  Parnell) made investigative,  statewide inquiries                                                               
that resulted in suggestions, but  no recommendations, to improve                                                               
the process,  including appointing regional boards  to save state                                                               
dollars   and  create   time  efficiencies.      At  that   time,                                                               
consideration was also given to  appointing a professional versus                                                               
a  lay board,  maintaining  the one  board  system, and  rotating                                                               
meetings  through regions  on a  four or  five year  cycle rather                                                               
than  the  current  three  year.    Reconfiguring  the  board  to                                                               
integrate  these  suggestions  would  be a  welcome  change,  but                                                               
expanding  to  nine  members,  with  the  status  quo,  isn't  as                                                               
palatable, he finished.                                                                                                         
10:15:05 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STUTES  asked  the  department to  address  the  issue  of                                                               
members having to conflict out of board deliberations.                                                                          
MR.  HAIGHT  Executive  Director,   Board  of  Fisheries,  Boards                                                               
Support Section,  responded that the ethics  act requires members                                                               
to  make advance  disclosures regarding  issues  from which  they                                                               
expect  to  recuse  themselves.     To  follow-up  questions,  he                                                               
elaborated that the conflict out  disclosures are made in advance                                                               
and the chair  makes the call unilaterally.   The recused members                                                               
sit-out  without  discussing  or  voting,  during  the  specified                                                               
CHAIR  STUTES asked  whether there  are limits  or parameters  on                                                               
geographical appointees to the board.                                                                                           
MR. HAIGHT answered,  "Specifically not."  He  said statute seeks                                                               
members  who  have  other  strong  characteristics  and  directly                                                               
specifies that appointments will not  be made based on geographic                                                               
preference or political affiliation.                                                                                            
10:18:00 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ pondered whether  a member's conflicting out                                                               
of  deliberations, and  refraining  from all  participation on  a                                                               
topic, results in a loss of shared expertise.                                                                                   
MR.  HAIGHT  concurred that  recused  members  often represent  a                                                               
voice of experience and expertise.                                                                                              
10:19:34 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  noted that  a conflicted-out  individual may                                                               
be  the best  informed member,  and pondered  whether having  two                                                               
additional  members, providing  additional diversity,  could help                                                               
to avoid that situation.                                                                                                        
MR. HAIGHT acknowledged  that the two additional  members may not                                                               
replace the  expertise, but could still  be primary contributors.                                                               
To a  follow-up question,  he offered  to provide  information to                                                               
the  committee regarding  the board  review, compiled  as a  cost                                                               
saving survey, as mentioned in Mr. Davis' testimony.                                                                            
10:22:05 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked what  the quorum  requirements are,                                                               
for the board.                                                                                                                  
MR. HAIGHT  replied that four members  must agree in order  for a                                                               
proposed action to carry, which would become five under HB 88.                                                                  
10:23:01 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  inquired about  the  cost  for adding  two                                                               
MR. HAIGHT  referred to  the $85,300 as  reflected in  the fiscal                                                               
note, based on a  two year average.  The meetings  may need to be                                                               
extended, due to the additional members, he opined.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked about  the possibility  of organizing                                                               
meetings utilizing technological methods for participation.                                                                     
MR.   HAIGHT  responded   that  various   approaches  have   been                                                               
considered,  especially  when  travel restrictions  are  imposed.                                                               
However,  the  meetings are  an  interactive  process, and  often                                                               
crucial dynamics would  be missed if persons weren't  in the same                                                               
10:26:03 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  called a  point  of  order to  question                                                               
Representative  Ortiz's  presence  at   the  committee  dais  and                                                               
whether   other  legislative   members  would   be  welcomed   to                                                               
participate in the committee proceedings.                                                                                       
CHAIR  STUTES  responded that  any  member  that is  a  committee                                                               
alternate  may  be  seated  and allowed  to  participate  at  the                                                               
discretion of the chair.                                                                                                        
10:27:09 AM                                                                                                                   
WES HUMBYRD  expressed concern for adding  two additional members                                                               
appointed  by the  governor.    However, if  the  seats could  be                                                               
designated for retired  Alaska Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G)                                                               
biologists or other  scientists, to bring that point  of view, it                                                               
would be  helpful.  He  said there is  a problem when  members of                                                               
the  board are  conflicted out  of  an issue.   Two  professional                                                               
board members would be a great asset, he stressed.                                                                              
10:29:45 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR expressed  intrigue at  the suggestion  that                                                               
the two  proposed members should be  categorically different than                                                               
the  other  members.   The  department  handles the  science  and                                                               
research, isolating  that aspect from  the political realm.   She                                                               
cautioned that  the board  should not become  a forum  to dispute                                                               
science, which could  happen if the board constituted  a blend of                                                               
seats that included scientists.                                                                                                 
MR. HUMBYRD  said conflicts often  occur and something  does need                                                               
to change, due  to the strong politics that currently  exist.  He                                                               
recalled with  dismay that the  last time a Cook  Inlet fisherman                                                               
was appointed was  1975.  Two people from  the professional side,                                                               
perhaps  the  [ADF&G  Divisions of]  Sport  Fish  and  Commercial                                                               
Fisheries, sitting on  the board, exempt from  the requirement of                                                               
legislative confirmation, could only be a good thing, he opined.                                                                
10:32:58 AM                                                                                                                   
JOHN  MCCOMBS  stated opposition  for  HB  88 and  described  his                                                               
observations  of the  board cycle.    He said  cutting the  ADF&G                                                               
local  advisory committees  has been  a detriment  and appointing                                                               
two  additional board  members will  only serve  to add  time and                                                               
expense to an already cumbersome  process.  He expressed interest                                                               
in having regional appointees.                                                                                                  
10:35:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CLAY  COPLIN, Mayor,  stated support  for HB  88 and  said having                                                               
additional   talent,   a   broader  perspective,   and   expanded                                                               
representation  on the  board  will  be a  positive  action.   He                                                               
reported on making  a search of the  Cordova/Prince William Sound                                                               
(POW) area  for a person to  nominate to the board.   The primary                                                               
economic pursuit in the region  is fishing, which would result in                                                               
a  conflicting  out  situation,   thus,  the  most  knowledgeable                                                               
candidates were  eliminated.   Additionally, the  time commitment                                                               
the board requires was a hindrance,  and he was unable to provide                                                               
a nominee.   It's been 20-30 years since a  local person from the                                                               
POW  area  has served.    Considering  the  need to  support  and                                                               
maintain the fishing  industry, he said the  measures proposed in                                                               
HB 88 could prove to be helpful.                                                                                                
10:38:32 AM                                                                                                                   
GEORGE  PIERCE stated  support for  HB 88  and said  it's a  good                                                               
idea.   No experts  sit on  the board, and  two members  could be                                                               
added,  or  twenty two,  but  without  appointing scientists  and                                                               
biologists, he  said, "you're not  fixing the problem."   Special                                                               
interest  groups  control  the  fish and  game,  he  opined,  and                                                               
elaborated on the formation of  his opinion.  The meetings should                                                               
be  held in  the areas  where the  proposals originate  and where                                                               
decisions will have a direct effect, he suggested.                                                                              
10:40:33 AM                                                                                                                   
STEVE VANEK  stated opposition  to HB  88 and  cited his  30 plus                                                               
years  of  service  sitting  on a  number  of  fisheries  related                                                               
boards.   He  maintained that  the addition  of two  more members                                                               
will only  lengthen the process,  and expense.  He  weighed-in on                                                               
the discussion  of designated seat appointments  to offer reasons                                                               
why the suggestions  for seating department members  would not be                                                               
viable.   The board will not  be fixed by adding  two members, he                                                               
reiterated, and said it would only make it more political.                                                                      
CHAIR STUTES announced HB 88 a held.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB088 Sponsor Statement 1.30.17.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 ver A.PDF HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Fiscal Note DFG-BBS-02-03-2017.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Supporting Document BOF Information.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Oppose SEAFA.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Oppose USAG.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Amend #2 Fansler.PDF HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88
HB088 Amend #1 Chenault.pdf HFSH 2/7/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 88