Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

03/30/2021 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 28(FSH) Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved HB 41 Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HB 41-SHELLFISH PROJECTS; HATCHERIES; FEES                                                                       
10:19:06 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 41,  "An Act relating  to management  of enhanced                                                               
stocks of shellfish;  authorizing certain nonprofit organizations                                                               
to  engage   in  shellfish  enhancement  projects;   relating  to                                                               
application  fees  for  salmon  hatchery  permits  and  shellfish                                                               
enhancement   project  permits;   allowing  the   Alaska  Seafood                                                               
Marketing Institute to market aquatic farm products; and                                                                        
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
10:20:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ, as  the prime  sponsor, introduced  HB 41.                                                               
He noted that the  bill nearly made it to the  finish line in the                                                               
last legislative session, but then  was caught up in the COVID-19                                                               
pandemic  issue.    He paraphrased  from  the  following  written                                                               
sponsor statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                              
     Enhancement  of Alaska's shellfish  industry holds  the                                                                    
     potential   of  expanded   economic  opportunities   in                                                                    
     Alaska's    coastal    communities     and    increased                                                                    
     resilience of the State's fisheries portfolio.                                                                             
     To tap this  potential House  Bill 41 allows  qualified                                                                    
     non-profits  to pursue enhancement  and/or  restoration                                                                    
     projects  involving  shellfish  species  including  red                                                                    
     and blue  king crab, sea  cucumber, abalone,  and razor                                                                    
     The  bill creates  a regulatory  framework  with  which                                                                    
     the  Department  of  Fish &  Game  [ADF&G]  can  manage                                                                    
     shellfish  enhancement projects  and outlines  criteria                                                                    
     for  issuance   of  permits.  It  sets  out   stringent                                                                    
     safety standards  to ensure  sustainability and  health                                                                    
     of  existing   natural  stocks.  The  commissioner   of                                                                    
     ADF&G  must also make  a determination  of  substantial                                                                    
     public benefit before a project can proceed.                                                                               
     In addition,  the bill  allows the  Department of  Fish                                                                    
     &  Game to  set the  application  fee  for a  shellfish                                                                    
     enhancement  project  permit  and  grants  the  similar                                                                    
     authority  over  the  application   fee  for  a  salmon                                                                    
     enhancement  project  permit.  This  bill  also  amends                                                                    
     the statutes  governing  the Alaska  Seafood  Marketing                                                                    
     Institute's  to  allow  ASMI  to  market  aquatic  farm                                                                    
     products including oysters and kelp.                                                                                       
     House  Bill   41  plays  an   important  role   in  the                                                                    
     development  of mariculture  in Alaska  by providing  a                                                                    
     method   to   increase   the   available   harvest   of                                                                    
     shellfish  for public  use in  an environmentally  safe                                                                    
     and responsible manner.                                                                                                    
10:23:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  commented that she  is excited to  see the                                                               
ability  for the  Alaska Seafood  Marketing  Institute (ASMI)  to                                                               
market aquatic  farm products.  She  said she is grateful  to the                                                               
sponsor for this important aspect of the bill.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE STORY concurred.                                                                                                 
10:23:56 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR opened invited testimony on HB 41.                                                                                   
10:24:23 AM                                                                                                                   
HEATHER   MCCARTY,   Chair,   Alaska  Mariculture   Task   Force;                                                               
Representative,  Central   Bering  Sea   Fishermen's  Association                                                               
(CBSFA);    Representative,    Alaska   King    Crab    Research,                                                               
Rehabilitation  and Biology  (AKCRRAB) Program,  provided invited                                                               
testimony  in support  of  HB 41.   She  stated  that the  Alaska                                                               
Mariculture Task Force  is a governor's task force  that has been                                                               
in  existence  since  2016.    It  was  renewed  by  the  current                                                               
administration,  which  is  very  supportive.    The  task  force                                                               
started   by  prioritizing   what  needed   to  happen   to  make                                                               
mariculture  development in  Alaska easier,  better, and  faster.                                                               
The  task  force prioritized  the  impediments  that need  to  be                                                               
remedied   by  statute,   regulation,   science,  research,   and                                                               
MS.  MCCARTY said  passage of  HB 41  is a  priority of  the task                                                               
force for  two reasons.   First, from a regulatory  and statutory                                                               
point,  work  on shellfish  development  and  culture can  go  no                                                               
farther  than it  has without  the  bill's passage  to allow  for                                                               
implementing  regulations to  be put  together by  the department                                                               
and by  the state to  allow shellfish mariculture to  progress to                                                               
what it can be in Alaska.   Second, the task force has identified                                                               
marketing issues,  and HB 41 would  change a few words  in ASMI's                                                               
enabling  legislation to  allow ASMI  to market  non-wild-capture                                                               
seafood products,  which means mariculture  products.   These two                                                               
aims are a priority of the Alaska Mariculture Task Force.                                                                       
MS. MCCARTY  spoke in  favor of  HB 41 on  behalf of  the Central                                                               
Bering Sea  Fishermen's Association of  St. Paul Island,  a group                                                               
she works  for that  is a  part of  the Western  Alaska Community                                                               
Development Quota (CDQ)  Program.  She stated that  [prior to the                                                               
early 1980s],  Pribilof residents enjoyed a  robust Pribilof blue                                                               
king crab  fishery around the  islands.  The  fishery contributed                                                               
to the processing  of crab on St. Paul, which  is really the sole                                                               
industry on  St. Paul  Island.   The Trident  plant there  is the                                                               
biggest in  North America, and  it processes some king  crab from                                                               
the Bristol  Bay king crab  stock, as well  as snow crab.   Since                                                               
the  early 1980s  Pribilof Island  blue  king crab  have been  so                                                               
sparse that no fishery has been  allowed on them.  The same thing                                                               
holds true for the red king  crab around Kodiak, which is also so                                                               
low that  there hasn't had a  fishery since the early  1980s.  It                                                               
used to  support a robust industry  on Kodiak and was  a big part                                                               
of the  Kodiak economy.  Ms.  McCarty said she supports  HB 41 on                                                               
behalf of the Central Bering  Sea Fishermen's Association because                                                               
the goal of shellfish mariculture has  been to focus on king crab                                                               
culture and  king crab  restoration.   Through the  programs that                                                               
have been put  together, and through HB 41  allowing larger scale                                                               
production of crab,  the hope is to turn that  around.  She added                                                               
that  Bristol  Bay king  crab  is  also  on  the verge  of  being                                                               
depleted.  King  crab is in trouble, she  continued, and figuring                                                               
out why and how is needed.                                                                                                      
10:28:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MCCARTY further spoke  on in favor of HB 41  on behalf of the                                                               
Alaska King  Crab Research, Rehabilitation and  Biology (AKCRRAB)                                                               
Program, which was  put together in 2006.  She  said it was known                                                               
that crab is  cultured successfully in other places  in the world                                                               
and  is a  big part  of the  economies of  some other  countries.                                                               
While AKCRRAB's  research program  is particularly on  king crab,                                                               
she  continued,   it  is  recognized  that   the  technology  and                                                               
understanding  gained  from the  program  can  be transferred  to                                                               
other crab stocks.   The program has successfully  reared red and                                                               
blue king  crab to the first  crab stage of life,  which can then                                                               
be raised  to adulthood or allowed  to be in the  wild and become                                                               
adults.  The  technology is there, and research has  been done on                                                               
every  aspect  of  the crab  lifecycle,  including  genetics  and                                                               
preferred  habitat.   The program  has published  35 of  its crab                                                               
research projects in peer-reviewed  journals.  The program's work                                                               
cannot go any farther until HB 41 is passed.                                                                                    
10:30:36 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  related that  he lived  on Kodiak  in 1981                                                               
and used  to catch his limit  of king [crab] every  day, but then                                                               
they went away pretty fast.   He said he heard it was overfishing                                                               
and he also heard  it was a parasite.  If it  was a parasite that                                                               
created some of the stock  depletion around Kodiak, he asked what                                                               
is to prevent  that same parasite from flourishing  in a hatchery                                                               
situation  that puts  forth  king crab  that  then decimates  the                                                               
natural population.                                                                                                             
MS. MCCARTY  replied that much  scientific work has been  done on                                                               
what happened  with wild red  king crab  in the Kodiak  area, and                                                               
most people  have settled on it  being overfished.  She  said she                                                               
has  not heard  a theory  about  parasites, and  deferred to  Dr.                                                               
Eckert for  an answer regarding  a parasite theory.   Ms. McCarty                                                               
said she  doesn't believe parasites  are an  accepted explanation                                                               
for the drop  in the king crab  stocks around Kodiak.   As far as                                                               
preventing parasites,  she stated that  there are so  many checks                                                               
and balances in  every hatchery, and checks  and balances through                                                               
the Alaska Department  of Fish and Game (ADF&G),  to prevent that                                                               
from occurring  with any  species, so  it is  her view  that that                                                               
isn't a realistic fear.                                                                                                         
[CHAIR TARR passed the gavel to Representative Stutes.]                                                                         
10:33:34 AM                                                                                                                   
SAMUEL  RABUNG,  Director,   Division  of  Commercial  Fisheries,                                                               
Alaska  Department of  Fish and  Game  (ADF&G), provided  invited                                                               
testimony in support of  HB 41.  He noted he is  also a member of                                                               
the  governor's   Alaska  Mariculture   Task  Force,   which  was                                                               
established in  2016 by Governor  Bill Walker and  reinstated and                                                               
extended  by Governor  Mike Dunleavy.   He  related that  ADF&G's                                                               
mission  statement  states that  the  department  is to  protect,                                                               
maintain,  and   improve  the  fish,  game,   and  aquatic  plant                                                               
resources of the  state, and manage their use  and development in                                                               
the  best interest  of  the  economy and  the  well-being of  the                                                               
people  of   the  state  consistent  with   the  sustained  yield                                                               
MR. RABUNG  stated that  AS 16.05.092 says,  in part,  that ADF&G                                                               
shall  encourage   investment  by   private  enterprise   in  the                                                               
technological  development   and  economic  utilization   of  the                                                               
fisheries  resources  and, through  rehabilitation,  enhancement,                                                               
and  development  programs, do  all  things  necessary to  ensure                                                               
perpetual  and   increasing  production  and  use   of  the  food                                                               
resources  of state  waters and  continental shelf  areas.   This                                                               
work was  under the purview of  ADF&G's Fisheries Rehabilitation,                                                               
Enhancement,  and Development  Division  (FRED)  until 1994  when                                                               
FRED was merged  with the Division of Commercial  Fisheries.  The                                                               
Division of  Commercial Fisheries  still operates  the pathology,                                                               
gene conservation,  and mark,  tag, and  age labs,  and contracts                                                               
the  operation  of its  salmon  hatcheries  to private  nonprofit                                                               
aquaculture associations.   The division provides  permitting and                                                               
oversight for  its statewide aquaculture planning  and permitting                                                               
section.   The  section is  responsible for  the salmon  hatchery                                                               
program, the aquatic farming program,  and permitting of research                                                               
and educational projects statewide.                                                                                             
MR. RABUNG pointed  out that currently in  Alaska, mariculture is                                                               
limited to  aquatic farming, which  means a facility  that grows,                                                               
farms, or cultivates aquatic farm  products in captivity or under                                                               
positive  control.   Aquatic farm  product is  considered private                                                               
property just as is livestock  on a terrestrial farm, and aquatic                                                               
farming  primarily benefits  private owners  and businesses.   In                                                               
contrast,  another form  of mariculture  is fishery  enhancement.                                                               
This entails  the restoration, rehabilitation, or  enhancement of                                                               
natural  production,  and  this   benefits  the  common  property                                                               
fisheries of  subsistence, personal  use, sport,  and commercial,                                                               
rather than private ownership.  This  is what would be allowed if                                                               
HB 41 becomes law.                                                                                                              
MR. RABUNG explained that restoration  means restoring a stock to                                                               
a location where it has been  extirpated, and bringing it back to                                                               
a  level that  can be  naturally  produced and  sustained.   Once                                                               
achieved the  project ceases.   Rehabilitation means  assisting a                                                               
poorly performing stock  to recover to its former  level that can                                                               
be naturally produced  and sustained.  Once  achieved the project                                                               
ceases.    Enhancement  means  producing  additional  numbers  of                                                               
naturally producing stock above what  it can produce in nature in                                                               
order to provide additional harvestable  surplus.  If the project                                                               
ceases, the  supplemental production goes away  and production of                                                               
the stock reverts back to what can be naturally sustained.                                                                      
10:37:00 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. RABUNG  stated that an  example of a  mariculture restoration                                                               
project  is the  Alaska  King Crab  Research, Rehabilitation  and                                                               
Biology (AKCRRAB) Program.  This  program seeks to plant juvenile                                                               
king crab from nearby stocks  into locations that supported these                                                               
stocks until the 1980s when they  were overfished.  They have not                                                               
recovered, even with  35 or more years of fishery  closures.  The                                                               
only tool  ADF&G has at this  time to recover these  stocks is to                                                               
keep  the fisheries  closed.    Passage of  HB  41 would  provide                                                               
another tool to try.                                                                                                            
MR. RABUNG specified that  examples of mariculture rehabilitation                                                               
projects include collecting adult razor  clams from the east side                                                               
of  Cook  Inlet,  inducing  them  to spawn  in  a  hatchery,  and                                                               
planting  those  juveniles  back  onto  the  same  beaches  their                                                               
parents came  from, as this  could increase recruitment  into the                                                               
fishery and  help that stock  recover.   This could also  be done                                                               
for hardshell  clams that  have been  diminished in  Kachemak Bay                                                               
due to  overharvest and sea  otter depredation.   Another project                                                               
could be  collecting and aggregating abalone  in Southeast Alaska                                                               
in order  to increase  their density  and thereby  their spawning                                                               
success.  There are many projects  that could be done under these                                                               
categories, there is not a one size fits all.                                                                                   
MR. RABUNG said  an example of a  mariculture enhancement project                                                               
is back-stocking  sea cucumber juveniles immediately  following a                                                               
dive fishery.   Dive  fisheries typically  occur on  a three-year                                                               
rotation, so the same site  is harvested about every three years.                                                               
Increasing  the number  of  juveniles  will potentially  increase                                                               
recruitment into  the fishery and  provide for  increased yields.                                                               
This  could  be  done  in perpetuity  to  produce  additional  or                                                               
supplemental harvest.                                                                                                           
MR.  RABUNG  noted  that,  like   with  Alaska's  salmon  fishery                                                               
enhancement programs, if HB 41  passes this work would be subject                                                               
to  pathology,  genetic,  and management  oversight  from  ADF&G.                                                               
Alaska  already has  the most  stringent aquaculture  guidance in                                                               
the world and is held up as the  example of how to do it right in                                                               
a  manner  that  minimizes  effects on  natural  production,  and                                                               
maintains  the  sustainability  of  natural  production  and  the                                                               
fisheries and people who depend on it.  That will not change.                                                                   
10:39:15 AM                                                                                                                   
[VICE CHAIR STUTES returned the gavel to Chair Tarr.]                                                                           
10:39:22 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS asked  why  the term  "genetically                                                               
modified shellfish"  is defined on page  9, line 24.   He further                                                               
asked where else the term appears in the bill.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ deferred to Mr. Rabung for an answer.                                                                      
MR. RABUNG responded  that he doesn't have a copy  of the bill in                                                               
front of him.  He said  it is important to note that "genetically                                                               
modified" is  a defined term, although  he doesn't know if  it is                                                               
defined in statute.  He continued:   "We would not allow, per our                                                               
genetics  policy, any  genetic manipulation  of a  stock that  is                                                               
intended to be released into the  wild.  These are intended to be                                                               
maintained as wild with the minimal manipulation possible."                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS further  observed the definition is                                                               
in Section  4 of  the bill, which  is adding a  new chapter.   He                                                               
presumed this  is a new  definition that  is being added  in law.                                                               
He stated that  Mr. Rabung's answer reflects  his interest, which                                                               
is  that "we  don't want  to be  genetically modifying  creatures                                                               
that are  going to  be entering wild  ecosystems."   He suggested                                                               
that perhaps this could be revisited with another testifier.                                                                    
CHAIR  TARR  recounted  that during  [the  committee's]  work  on                                                               
genetically modified  salmon, the company producing  that product                                                               
had several others  in its queue, including shellfish.   She said                                                               
she has therefore  always considered that a concern  to watch out                                                               
for.    During the  federal  process,  a  couple years  ago,  the                                                               
company removed  all that material  from its website as  it tried                                                               
to get through  the approval.  While she  hasn't recently checked                                                               
into  where  the  company  is,  she has  some  of  the  company's                                                               
documents from prior to that, which  show a number of species the                                                               
company  was interested  in producing  in a  genetically modified                                                               
10:42:16 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  addressed the  topic of  depleted fisheries  from the                                                               
1980s.   She noted it  is always talked  about that Alaska  has a                                                               
strong  fisheries management  program and  is the  envy of  other                                                               
places.  She inquired whether  things were being done differently                                                               
during the 1980s and whether  [the management practices] of today                                                               
hadn't  yet been  adopted.   She further  inquired whether  there                                                               
would be  sustainable fisheries in  those places today  if things                                                               
had been done in the 1980s like they are being done now.                                                                        
MR. RABUNG responded:                                                                                                           
     We're  always  learning,  and  crab  biology  and  crab                                                                    
     management  in the  '80s, we  learned a  lot.   One way                                                                    
     that we learned  what the limits are is  to exceed them                                                                    
     ...  and  in  hindsight   that's  what  it  looks  like                                                                    
     happened in a  lot of these crab stocks.   So once they                                                                    
     are fished  down, then there's  what we  call "downward                                                                    
     pressure"   on  the   stock  that   prevents  it   from                                                                    
     recovering,  and  that  would be  generally  predation.                                                                    
     Concurrent  with overfishing  those stocks,  though, we                                                                    
     also have what we refer  to as the "regime change" when                                                                    
     environmental  conditions  in   the  ocean  shifted  to                                                                    
     benefit  finfish  such  as pollock  and  flounders  and                                                                    
     things  like that,  whereas prior  to that  things were                                                                    
        very beneficial to crab.  So there was kinda two                                                                        
     things that happened at once.                                                                                              
10:44:06 AM                                                                                                                   
GINNY  ECKERT, PhD,  Director, Alaska  Sea  Grant, University  of                                                               
Alaska,  provided invited  testimony in  support of  HB 41.   She                                                               
related  that in  addition to  being the  director of  Alaska Sea                                                               
Grant, she is  a professor at the University  of Alaska Fairbanks                                                               
(UAF)  [Juneau  Center of  the  College  of Fisheries  and  Ocean                                                               
Sciences].  She  further related that she is  a shellfish expert,                                                               
has been  in Alaska  since 2000,  and has  served as  the science                                                               
director of the AKCRRAB Program since it started.                                                                               
DR.  ECKERT  addressed Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins'  question.                                                               
She cited  page 4,  lines 21-22,  of the  bill, which  state that                                                               
[the permit  holder] "not procure genetically  modified shellfish                                                               
or place  genetically modified  shellfish into  the water  of the                                                               
state".  So that important regulation is in the bill, she said.                                                                 
DR. ECKERT  began her testimony by  thanking Representative Ortiz                                                               
and the committee for working on  the legislation.  She noted she                                                               
has testified  several times in  support of previous  versions of                                                               
this bill.   Alaska has these fisheries that  have been depleted,                                                               
particularly king crab,  she continued.  These  stocks crashed in                                                               
the  1980s  and have  not  recovered.   The  scientific  evidence                                                               
absolutely  supports  that  overfishing  was  the  cause  of  the                                                               
decline.  The  fishing rates were very high back  then and people                                                               
didn't really understand  that.  There was also  bycatch in trawl                                                               
fisheries,  which  people  didn't   really  understand  as  well.                                                               
People just thought these crabs  were unlimited.  These fisheries                                                               
have been closed  since their crash, and the  Kodiak fisheries in                                                               
particular have  not been  fished in  a very  long time  and they                                                               
have not recovered.                                                                                                             
DR.  ECKERT specified  that  over  the last  decade  she and  her                                                               
colleagues have  published in  many scientific  publications, and                                                               
done a  variety of work  on many  different aspects of  king crab                                                               
life history.   In looking  at what's going  on in the  wild, she                                                               
and  her colleagues  are pretty  convinced that,  particularly in                                                               
Kodiak where  much of this  work has  been done, these  king crab                                                               
are not recovering on their  own.  There's no natural recruitment                                                               
happening,  and in  the case  of a  lack of  natural recruitment,                                                               
hatchery  production  could  be  one way  to  help  restore  this                                                               
population.   Through  their work,  she and  her colleagues  have                                                               
developed methods for hatchery rearing,  and done research on the                                                               
genetics to  better understand  the genetics.   It  is absolutely                                                               
possible to  safely in very  scientifically manageable  ways make                                                               
sure genetic concerns are addressed.   These genetic concerns are                                                               
absolutely valid and there are mechanisms to address them.                                                                      
DR. ECKERT said some of the  genetic concerns that are brought up                                                               
relate salmon  to crab.   But, she continued, the  life histories                                                               
of salmon are very different from  crab.  Salmon reproduce in the                                                               
stream where they  were born, and biologically  it is fascinating                                                               
in that salmon  are actually inbred on purpose and  it works very                                                               
well  for them.   Crab  are very  different, so  rearing crab  in                                                               
hatcheries  is very  different as  well.   Animals from  the wild                                                               
that have  reproduced in the  wild would  be used, and  then just                                                               
raised in  a hatchery.   All that  natural selection  has already                                                               
happened in the wild, and so  using a good number of them ensures                                                               
genetic viability of these stocks.                                                                                              
DR. ECKERT  pointed out that HB  41 is not just  about king crab;                                                               
this could  be used on  a variety  of other species.   Washington                                                               
State  has  a very  successful  project  that  right now  is  out                                                               
planting very tiny baby abalone, she  said.  The project is doing                                                               
very well and stands  as a model for the kind  of work that could                                                               
be done in Alaska if HB 41 is passed.                                                                                           
10:48:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STORY thanked Dr. Eckert  for her work, and stated                                                               
that this is  critical to get going for Alaska  and she hopes the                                                               
bill goes through and becomes law.                                                                                              
CHAIR  TARR noted  that bycatch  continues as  an ongoing  issue.                                                               
She   asked  whether   bycatch,   environmental  conditions,   or                                                               
predation could be connected to the lack of natural recruitment.                                                                
DR. ECKERT explained that king  crab naturally aggregate together                                                               
and  travel around  in packs.   [Scientists]  think much  of that                                                               
aggregation has to do with  reproduction.  If there aren't enough                                                               
animals  out  there,  there  isn't that  critical  mass  to  have                                                               
successful  reproduction.    The  idea   is  that  the  stock  is                                                               
depressed  to  such a  level  that  it's  not able  to  naturally                                                               
rebound.   Even though the  fisheries are closed, there  still is                                                               
some  bycatch  happening  that  potentially  is  contributing  to                                                               
keeping it depressed.   The nature and biology of  this animal is                                                               
such that it's stuck in that hole, so to speak.                                                                                 
10:50:40 AM                                                                                                                   
JEREMY  WOODROW,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Seafood  Marketing                                                               
Institute  (ASMI), provided  invited testimony  in support  of HB
41.  He noted ASMI is  established in statute as a public-private                                                               
partnership  to  foster  the  economic  development  of  Alaska's                                                               
seafood resources.   It plays a key role  in positioning Alaska's                                                               
seafood   industry  as   a  competitive,   market  driven,   food                                                               
production industry,  and functions  as a  brand manager  for the                                                               
Alaska seafood family of brands.   He said ASMI supports HB 41 in                                                               
recognition of  mariculture being  an emerging  maritime industry                                                               
with tremendous opportunity for Alaska's economy.                                                                               
MR.  WOODROW  explained  that  mariculture  involves  cultivating                                                               
marine organisms in  the ocean for food and  other products, such                                                               
as oysters,  mussels, abalone, geoduck,  and seaweeds  like kelp.                                                               
The  practice does  not  require  feed, fertilizers,  herbicides,                                                               
insecticides, or antibiotics, making  it sustainable.  Because of                                                               
the economic  and environmental  promise, the  Alaska Mariculture                                                               
Task Force  identified the goal  to develop  Alaska's mariculture                                                               
production into  a $100  million per year  industry in  20 years.                                                               
To  increase  jobs and  economic  opportunity  for fishermen  and                                                               
Alaskan businesses,  the ASMI board  of directors supports  HB 41                                                               
and legislative action to allow  for the marketing of mariculture                                                               
products or  aquatic farm  products as  defined in  AS 16.40.199,                                                               
which ASMI is currently prohibited from doing so.                                                                               
MR. WOODROW  stated that ASMI is  joined in its support  of HB 41                                                               
by  the  Alaska seafood  industry,  the  Alaska Mariculture  Task                                                               
Force,  the Alaska  Shellfish Growers  Association, and  many new                                                               
Alaskan owned  and operated businesses.   Mariculture  presents a                                                               
significant  economic  opportunity  for Alaska,  and  offers  the                                                               
ability  for  seafood  companies   to  diversify  their  existing                                                               
product  portfolios.    With  the  support  and  efforts  of  the                                                               
Mariculture  Task Force,  small  family  businesses have  already                                                               
proven  products to  be commercially  viable by  selling boutique                                                               
products while offering fishermen  opportunities to utilize their                                                               
vessels, equipment, and skills during shoulder seasons.                                                                         
MR. WOODROW  specified that  if HB  41 is  passed, ASMI  plans to                                                               
include  mariculture  products  in its  effective  and  lucrative                                                               
consumer retail food  service and food aid  marketing programs in                                                               
domestic and  targeted foreign  markets.  In  efforts to  ramp up                                                               
dispersion in  the industry,  ASMI will  lend the  same expertise                                                               
and outreach  to the mariculture  industry as it has  to Alaska's                                                               
seafood  industry for  40 years.   He  thanked the  committee for                                                               
recognizing the  value of Alaska's  maritime economy and  for its                                                               
consideration  of new  legislation  to  aid economic  development                                                               
across Alaska's coastal communities.                                                                                            
10:53:42 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  closed invited testimony and  opened public testimony                                                               
on HB 41.                                                                                                                       
10:54:00 AM                                                                                                                   
JULIE  DECKER, Executive  Director, Alaska  Fisheries Development                                                               
Foundation (AFDF), testified  in support of HB 41.   She said the                                                               
bill would  create a  framework from  which to  develop shellfish                                                               
enhancement  and   would  allow  ASMI  to   market  aquatic  farm                                                               
products, which would help develop  the new mariculture industry.                                                               
The bill accomplishes two of  the priority recommendations of the                                                               
Alaska Mariculture Task Force, which is  part of a larger plan to                                                               
fully develop  the mariculture industry  in Alaska with  the goal                                                               
to grow a $100 million per year industry in 20 years.                                                                           
MS. DECKER noted  that AFDF's membership is  comprised of seafood                                                               
harvesters, seafood processors, and  support businesses.  Founded                                                               
in 1978,  AFDF's mission is  to identify opportunities  common to                                                               
the Alaska  seafood industry, and develop  efficient, sustainable                                                               
outcomes that  provide benefits to the  economy, environment, and                                                               
communities.  One of the  more recent opportunities that AFDF has                                                               
been promoting  is mariculture  development in  Alaska.   She has                                                               
served on the Alaska Mariculture Task Force since 2016.                                                                         
10:55:35 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. DECKER, to keep her  testimony brief, focused her comments on                                                               
shellfish  enhancement  as an  economic  opportunity.   She  said                                                               
shellfish  enhancement  could  help   diversify  and  expand  the                                                               
economies  in coastal  Alaska, and  increase harvests  for sport,                                                               
subsistence,  and commercial  use.   A recent  news story  stated                                                               
that Alaska's salmon hatcheries  in 2020 again contributed nearly                                                               
30 percent to the state's total  salmon catches.  Think about the                                                               
possibility of  this bill creating something  similar   something                                                               
so  substantial that  it could  add an  additional 30  percent to                                                               
what  is  currently  harvested  statewide.   The  growth  of  the                                                               
mariculture  industry  can play  an  important  role in  Alaska's                                                               
economic recovery  from COVID-19.   Passage of HB 41  is critical                                                               
to fully enabling that economic potential.                                                                                      
10:57:11 AM                                                                                                                   
NANCY  HILLSTRAND, Owner,  Pioneer  Alaskan Fisheries,  expressed                                                               
her concern that  there are deficiencies in HB 41.   She said her                                                               
motive for testifying is her  deep concern for the wild fisheries                                                               
and  the lack  of  compliance that  she sees.    While many  good                                                               
things are  going on with ADF&G,  she stated, there is  some lack                                                               
of compliance with these same statutes  in regard to salmon.  She                                                               
drew attention to  Section 4 of HB  41 that would amend  AS 16 by                                                               
adding  a  new  chapter:     Chapter  12.  Shellfish  Enhancement                                                               
Projects.   She  specifically  addressed  Sec. 16.12.050(b)  that                                                               
begins on page 5, line 26, in the  bill.  She asked how the Board                                                               
of Fisheries  would be involved  in making any amendments  to the                                                               
original hatchery permits.  Right  now, she maintained, the Board                                                               
of  Fisheries is  completely disregarded  in the  salmon hatchery                                                               
permits.   Any  alterations  are being  done  through a  regional                                                               
planning  team (RPT),  she continued,  and  then it  goes to  the                                                               
commissioner  who  is  supposed  to  send  it  to  the  Board  of                                                               
Fisheries and use the administrative procedures.                                                                                
MS. HILLSTRAND  stated that a  lot of  things are missing  in the                                                               
bill.    She  said  it's  important to  look  at  and  understand                                                               
opportunities as well as to look  at and understand impacts.  She                                                               
referenced a paper  she has on mariculture in which  section 1 of                                                               
the  paper   addresses  understanding   impacts  and   section  2                                                               
addresses  understanding  opportunities.    The  paper  discusses                                                               
impacts  to marine  species, seabed  habitat, genetic  diversity,                                                               
detritus, and  others.   There are  two sides  to the  story, she                                                               
stressed, but  only one side is  being looked at [in  HB 41], and                                                               
it is important to get [the impacts] under control.                                                                             
MS. HILLSTRAND  said she  appreciates what has  been done  in the                                                               
lines of  culture.  She  was a fish  culturist with ADF&G  for 21                                                               
years, she  related, so  she understands what  it means  to start                                                               
something new  because [ADF&G]  started on  something new  in the                                                               
1970s with  salmon culture.   But, she  added, a lot  of mistakes                                                               
were made.   She stated that  there is no framework  in the bill,                                                               
no comprehensive  plan, which at  least the salmon had  as Alaska                                                               
Statute (AS) 16.10.375.   For example, she asked,  is there going                                                               
to be a  regional planning team that knows about  crab?  Is there                                                               
going to  be a comprehensive plan  written prior to this  or this                                                               
just  going to  be a  mismatch of  fragmented management  and not                                                               
MS. HILLSTRAND  specified that when the  [salmon] hatcheries were                                                               
started there were  120 people within FRED,  and [the hatcheries]                                                               
were  created before  the  statutes came.    She maintained  that                                                               
there  are  currently  very  few people  in  the  department  who                                                               
understand  the animal  husbandry  required  with something  like                                                               
this.  She noted  that she sent the committee a  copy of the 1991                                                               
"Alaska State  Legislative Review" on the  effects of hatcheries.                                                               
She  urged that  this  review,  now 30  years  old, be  continued                                                               
because a consensus  is needed, and more information  needs to be                                                               
gathered  and understood  to ensure  that  no damage  is done  to                                                               
Alaska's wild fisheries.                                                                                                        
11:00:26 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. HILLSTRAND  agreed there is  a problem with crab  not growing                                                               
back,  but  questioned whether  things  could  be made  worse  by                                                               
taking out some of the brood  stock.  She asked whether ADF&G has                                                               
staff on the ground that know  about this, and whether anyone has                                                               
talked to  ADF&G staff in Kodiak  or Adak, the actual  people who                                                               
would be  supplying these  permits for taking  brood stock.   She                                                               
stressed the  importance of finding out  these answers beforehand                                                               
because industry will place a  lot of pressure on ADF&G's on-the-                                                               
ground people.                                                                                                                  
MS.  HILLSTRAND urged  that  a  look be  taken  at the  ecosystem                                                               
repercussions and  the other impacts,  that a  comprehensive plan                                                               
is  formed,  and  that  legislative   reviews  on  hatcheries  be                                                               
continued.  More  needs to be done than what  has happened so far                                                               
in a  small laboratory creating crab,  she said.  Things  need to                                                               
be  incremental, so  there is  something that  puts a  stopgap to                                                               
stop  or slow  things down  if necessary.   She  again urged  the                                                               
committee to  look at  16.12.050(b) and  the Board  of Fisheries,                                                               
and questioned  why it  isn't being  used because  just yesterday                                                               
another  law passed  that bypasses  the  Board of  Fisheries.   A                                                               
check and balance needs to be in  in the bill and not bypassed so                                                               
things can be brought up for  the public to understand what going                                                               
on, instead  of just  letting industry  run off  with this.   She                                                               
added that she would like more  people to understand what this is                                                               
before  running with  it  and thinking  everything  is fine  when                                                               
there are already problems within the salmon hatchery industry.                                                                 
11:02:40 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR  requested Mr. Rabung  to respond to  Ms. Hillstrand's                                                               
suggestions.  She  said that when she looks at  bills, she always                                                               
has  a concern  about impacts  to  wild stocks  for the  genetics                                                               
reason, but  she was feeling  assured by what has  been presented                                                               
on HB 41 so far.                                                                                                                
11:03:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  RABUNG responded  that  he would  categorize  what was  just                                                               
heard as grossly  misinformed and, because this  same comment has                                                               
been heard  before over the years,  he would say it  is willfully                                                               
misinformed.  He  stated that there have been  many Department of                                                               
Law opinions  and interpretations of Alaska's  statutes regarding                                                               
Board  of Fisheries  authority  versus commissioner's  authority.                                                               
It's  clearly  laid  out  in   statute  that  the  commissioner's                                                               
authority is  permitting, and the  Board of  Fisheries' authority                                                               
relates to allocation  of harvest.  So, that is  not at question.                                                               
He clarified  that HB  41 does not  relate to  salmon hatcheries.                                                               
But in  response to the  previous salmon hatchery  assertions, he                                                               
said  all existing  salmon hatchery  programs have  been reviewed                                                               
for  compliance  with  the  state's  statutes,  regulations,  and                                                               
policies.  Those are published  and available on [the division's]                                                               
website, and  this has been done  since about 2010 or  2011.  All                                                               
have been found in compliance,  although some housekeeping things                                                               
have been found and rectified.                                                                                                  
MR. RABUNG  said [the division]  has spent a  considerable amount                                                               
of time in  the last 10 years gaining a  firm legal understanding                                                               
of the statutes and regulations  that guide these programs.  [The                                                               
division]  is made  up of  individuals, he  continued, and  every                                                               
individual has opinions.  He  said he would characterize what was                                                               
happening as a  misinterpretation of some of the  guidance.  This                                                               
has since been clarified with the  Department of Law and there is                                                               
an  affirmed understanding  of the  guidance and  everything [the                                                               
division] does is within that guidance.                                                                                         
MR.  RABUNG  continued  his  response.   He  stressed  that  [the                                                               
division] has  not seen harm  from its hatchery  programs despite                                                               
looking for  it.  Assertions  have been made, but  [the division]                                                               
can't see it,  and so the salmon hatchery production  has been at                                                               
its current level since the mid-1990s.   Three of the four record                                                               
wild stock harvests  in the history of the state  occurred in the                                                               
last 10 years,  he noted.  As well, there  have been poor returns                                                               
in  other places.   Salmon  runs are  cyclical and  have ups  and                                                               
downs,  but [the  division] doesn't  see  a significant  negative                                                               
effect  on  natural  productivity from  its  hatchery  practices.                                                               
That's not  to say [the division]  isn't looking for them,  a lot                                                               
of effort  is being spent  looking for these things  and ensuring                                                               
that if [the division] can  make improvements in the program [the                                                               
division] will know about it and will try to do that.                                                                           
MR. RABUNG  addressed the  statement about  a lack  of oversight.                                                               
He  said  a provision  in  HB  41  [Sec. 16.12.010.  Permits  for                                                               
shellfish  enhancement projects.]  states  that the  commissioner                                                               
shall consult  with and solicit recommendations  from federal and                                                               
state  agencies  and  technical  experts  in  the  relevant  area                                                               
regarding permit  stipulations and  issuance.  So,  he continued,                                                               
the intention is  not to do this  in a vacuum but to  gain all of                                                               
the most  valid input and  assistance possible to ensure  no harm                                                               
is being done.                                                                                                                  
11:08:45 AM                                                                                                                   
ANGEL  DROBNICA,  Director,  Fisheries  and  Government  Affairs,                                                               
Aleutian   and   Pribilof   Community   Development   Association                                                               
(APICDA), testified  in support  of HB  41.  She  noted she  is a                                                               
member of the  Alaska Mariculture Task Force  and is representing                                                               
APICDA, one  of the six  CDQ groups  whose mission is  to advance                                                               
fisheries-related economic  development in member  communities in                                                               
Southwest Alaska.   She said APICDA believes  mariculture is very                                                               
complementary to  its mission and  could provide  opportunity for                                                               
diversification in APICDA's fishing operations and businesses.                                                                  
MS. DROBNICA  noted that this  bill has been  in the queue  for a                                                               
number of  years, and APICDA  is hopeful it  will make it  to the                                                               
finish  line  this session.    She  said  APICDA believes  HB  41                                                               
provides an important next step  for Alaska's growing mariculture                                                               
industry  by  allowing  a   regulatory  pathway  for  enhancement                                                               
projects  that   could  result  in  meaningful   common  property                                                               
opportunities to  help diversify existing fishing  operations and                                                               
increase food security.   In addition, APICDA  has supported past                                                               
efforts  of the  AKCRRAB Program,  as crab  fisheries are  hugely                                                               
important to  the CDQ  Program and  to rural  Alaska communities.                                                               
The   bill  could   provide  a   pathway   for  restoration   and                                                               
enhancement,  particularly for  some of  the stocks  experiencing                                                               
decline right now.  She encouraged the passage of HB 41.                                                                        
11:10:31 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR,  after ascertaining  no one  else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on HB 41.                                                                                               
11:10:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR TARR inquired whether Representative  Ortiz had spoken with                                                               
other committee members about the bill.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ replied that he had.                                                                                       
CHAIR  TARR related  that no  amendments or  additional questions                                                               
had  been  submitted to  her  for  HB 41.    She  said she  would                                                               
therefore be comfortable with moving the bill.                                                                                  
11:11:44 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STORY  moved to report  HB 41 from  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  41  was reported  from the  House                                                               
Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 28 Sponsor Statement - Version A 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Version A 2.18.21.PDF HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Sectional Analysis - Version A 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Fiscal Note - DOA-DMV 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Fiscal Note - DFG-CFEC 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - USCG Documentation and Tonnage Brochure - Speaker Stutes 3.4.20.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - Commercial Fishing Vessel Licensing Overview - CFEC 3.21.21.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - Vessel Licensing Presentation - CFEC 3.21.21.pdf HFSH 3/23/2021 11:00:00 AM
HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Testimony Received by 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 41 Sponsor Statement ver. B 1.27.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 ver. B.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Sectional Analysis ver B 03.10.2021.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Fiscal Note - DCCED-ASMI 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Fiscal Note - DFG-CFEC 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Fiscal Note - DFG-DCF 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Fiscal Note - DOR-TAX 3.19.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Fiscal Note - SPEC-ST 3.20.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 41 Testimony Received by 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/25/2021 10:30:00 AM
HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 41
HB 28 Research - DMV Registration FAQ 2019.pdf HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/27/2022 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - Info from Legislative Finance - Bell 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - Boat Receipts Allocation Summary 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
SRES 2/7/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 28
HB 28 Research - Boat Receipts Fund Source Report - Legislative Finance 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28
HB 28 Amendment One - House Fisheries Committee 3.24.21.pdf HFSH 3/30/2021 10:00:00 AM
HB 28