Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2003 03:20 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 251-MARINE PILOT FOR FOREIGN PLEASURE CRAFT                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion of SB 20.]                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1610                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  251,  "An  Act  exempting  certain  foreign                                                               
pleasure craft from the mandatory pilotage requirement."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1650                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM, sponsor of  HB 251, explained that this                                                               
bill exempts  certain foreign pleasure crafts  from the mandatory                                                               
pilotage requirements while visiting  Alaska.  Pleasure craft are                                                               
vessels that  are not for  hire.   Currently, American-registered                                                               
pleasure craft  of any size are  not required to employ  a marine                                                               
pilot,  however, all  foreign-registered vessels  are, she  said.                                                               
The only exception [to the  marine pilotage requirement] is while                                                               
the vessel is  moored at a dock  or at anchor.  The  intent of HB                                                               
251  is  to  standardize  the  operation  of  pleasure  craft  by                                                               
granting a  waiver or exemption to  foreign-registered vessels of                                                               
less  than 200  feet.    A recent  Legislative  Budget and  Audit                                                               
Committee report  [recommended] these changes.   Recommendation 4                                                               
of  the  Legislative  Audit, 08-20015-02,  dated  Nov.  1,  2002,                                                               
reads:                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  Board  of  Marine  Pilots  should  seek  statutory                                                                    
     authority to  allow the board  the discretion  to grant                                                                    
     waivers  of  pilotage  requirement  to  large  pleasure                                                                    
     craft.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  noted the time and  effort [contributed                                                               
by] the marine pilots in helping  develop this bill.  [This bill]                                                               
will  bring greater  economic  [activity]  into Southeast  Alaska                                                               
[through increased  yacht traffic].   She  said that  all parties                                                               
are in agreement  on this bill, and she will  present a committee                                                               
substitute (CS) [at the April 23rd meeting of the committee].                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM,   in  response  to  a   question  from                                                               
Representative Rokeberg, said she would  prefer to wait until the                                                               
[April 23] meeting to have  the committee adopt a working version                                                               
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1762                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REX  SHATTUCK, Staff  to Representative  Nancy Dahlstrom,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, explained  that  this bill  grew  out of  the                                                               
March  12, 2003,  [House Labor  and Commerce  Standing Committee]                                                               
hearing for SB  20, which extends the Board of  Marine Pilots; SB                                                               
20 passed out  of this committee with six "Do  Passes" and passed                                                               
the House  floor with 38 "Yeas"  and two excused.   He noted that                                                               
the audit included a letter  from DCED [Department of Community &                                                               
Economic Development] that encouraged  the legislature to enact a                                                               
law that would  allow the Board of Marine  Pilots [the discretion                                                               
to  grant waivers  of pilotage  requirements  to larger  pleasure                                                               
crafts].    Mr. Shattuck  stated  that  the forthcoming  CS  will                                                               
address  the  concerns of  the  stakeholders,  some of  who  will                                                               
testify today.   He said that the parties agreed  to an amendment                                                               
[to HB  251] that would exempt  [smaller foreign-flagged pleasure                                                               
craft  from the  pilotage  requirement] and  allow  the board  to                                                               
waive the  pilotage requirement for larger  vessels under certain                                                               
conditions.   He explained that foreign-flagged  vessels under 53                                                               
meters in length would be required  to take a pilot [on board] no                                                               
matter  which zone  they were  going into.   They  would also  be                                                               
required to use an Alaskan agent,  whose purpose would be to make                                                               
arrangements between  the marine  pilots and  the customer.   The                                                               
Division  of  Occupational  Licensing  in DECD  would  write  the                                                               
regulations [implementing the law].                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1872                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked what  length vessels are covered in                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SHATTUCK explained  that [a  vessel  of] 53  meters is  just                                                               
under 175  feet.   He said  that the  [measurement of]  53 meters                                                               
will be  used because  it's an  international standard  for those                                                               
vessels.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  Mr. Shattuck  to clarify  how the                                                               
bill affects vessels under 53 meters.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK replied  that any vessel under 53  meters would have                                                               
to meet  the requirements in  regulation that will be  drafted by                                                               
the Board of  Marine Pilots.  He said those  standards will cover                                                               
the vessel  size and the  requirement to  take on a  pilot coming                                                               
into Alaskan waters.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked  if a vessel under  53 meters would                                                               
have to have a pilot.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK said  that such a vessel would have  to have a pilot                                                               
from the entry point [into  Alaskan waters] to the vessel's first                                                               
port.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  said that  a vessel  would have  to have  a pilot                                                               
from the entry  point into Alaskan waters to the  first port.  It                                                               
would not  have a pilot  [after that],  whereas in current  law a                                                               
vessel  must  have a  pilot  [on  board  the  entire time  it  is                                                               
moving].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1933                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  observed that the pilots  have "one bite                                                               
at  the apple."   He  asked about  the agent  [referenced by  Mr.                                                               
Shattuck].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK  said at present  there is an agent's  license under                                                               
the Board  of Marine Pilots.   That  agent would arrange  for the                                                               
marine pilots to be available at the pilot stations.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked whether the CS  will give specific                                                               
details for the regulations.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK replied  the bill will contain  the tenants outlined                                                               
today, while the regulations, formulated  in part by the Board of                                                               
Marine Pilots, will be more detailed.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1982                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD surmised that a  marine pilot is on board                                                               
during the first voyage into Alaskan  waters to the first port in                                                               
order to  see if  the master  is capable  of piloting  in Alaskan                                                               
waters.  What happens if the master is incompetent, he queried.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK replied  that the marine pilots will  be involved in                                                               
writing  the regulations  to  cover what  should  happen in  that                                                               
circumstance.   Because the  marine pilots are  the eyes  and the                                                               
ears  of the  state, statute  gives  them some  authority to  say                                                               
whether the vessel would be safe in Alaskan waters.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON confirmed  that the  board  will have  more of  a                                                               
regulatory purview.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2032                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  commented  that  the  marine  pilot  would                                                               
notify the Coast Guard of whatever was found.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked what size  vessel needs to  have a                                                               
marine pilot aboard.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SHATTUCK said  that currently,  there is  an [exemption  for                                                               
foreign-flagged pleasure  craft of  less than] 300  [gross] tons;                                                               
that exemption would be removed  [under the forthcoming CS].  The                                                               
CS will deal with vessels up to  a maximum of 53 meters, which is                                                               
just  under 175  feet.   As  far as  [waivers for  vessels of]  a                                                               
minimum size,  [no minimum  size] has yet  been established.   He                                                               
said he  anticipated that  [a minimum size  will be  included] in                                                               
the CS.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2086                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  said  that  it's  not  the  committee's                                                               
intent  to  negatively affect  the  small  craft tourism  in  the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SHATTUCK replied  that the  intent  is not  to impact  those                                                               
craft that would not normally carry a marine pilot.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  why  the  [exemption for  vessels                                                               
less than] 300 gross tons [will be] removed.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SHATTUCK replied  that there  are vessels  of less  than 300                                                               
[gross tons] that  qualify [for an exemption]  under existing law                                                               
but those  vessels could be  larger than  the [200] feet  or [53]                                                               
meters [limit in  the proposed CS].  Sail craft  might have to be                                                               
addressed separately, he said.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG commented  that if  the CS  is going  to                                                               
remove  the 300-ton  threshold,  there must  be  an argument  [in                                                               
favor] of that [action].                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTACK  said the bill  is targeting vessels over  that [300                                                               
ton  size],  many  of  which are  substantially  larger  than  53                                                               
meters.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2164                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD said  that  now any  [vessel] under  300                                                               
tons  is exempt  from pilotage;  it doesn't  have anything  to do                                                               
with the length of  the boat.  If the 300  tons is removed, there                                                               
will need to be some sort of a minimum size [in statute].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK said  in some cases the minimum  tonnage is actually                                                               
larger.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said, no, in feet.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG   surmised  that  [these   vessels]  are                                                               
shorter but weigh more.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHATTUCK agreed.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  said  the  state wouldn't  want  to  be                                                               
requiring pilots for a 40-foot ketch.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SHATTUCK said  that this  bill addresses  motorized pleasure                                                               
craft.   However, it does  not address  sail craft.   The tonnage                                                               
issue is something all together different.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM suggested  addressing these questions to                                                               
the marine pilots [present at the hearing].                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON said  that  the bill  will be  held  and will  be                                                               
brought up first [at the meeting] next week.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2227                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KATE TESAR, Lobbyist for Alaska  Yacht Services and Provisioning,                                                               
stated  that  her  client  works  with  yacht  owners  and  yacht                                                               
management  companies  throughout  the country,  assisting  these                                                               
yachts in  coming to  Alaska.  She  supervises port  services for                                                               
the  guests and  crews of  these large  yachts.   She is  working                                                               
aboard a yacht now.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. TESAR said  her client supports [HB] 251.   She said that the                                                               
stakeholders   reached  agreement   on  how   to  address   these                                                               
exemptions a  very short time  ago.  They  agreed to work  on the                                                               
language together  and so do  not yet have specific  language for                                                               
the committee.   She said that  the group has worked  out the 53-                                                               
meter size limit, which mandates that  a pilot be on board at the                                                               
initial  entry point  into each  region, and  the use  of Alaskan                                                               
agents, which will  also be a revenue-producer for  some of these                                                               
small  communities.   The stakeholders  support the  [legislative                                                               
audit] recommendation  4 that says  the state should  address the                                                               
situation  with these  large yachts.   She  said that  the yachts                                                               
bring  a large  amount of  commerce into  the small  communities.                                                               
She thanked  Representative Dahlstrom  and the marine  pilots for                                                               
working  to find  a solution  that  will allow  this commerce  to                                                               
continue in the state.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2302                                                                                                                     
ROBERT WINTER,  Captain, Marine  Pilot, Southeast  Alaska Pilots'                                                               
Association,   testified   that   he  supports   legislation   to                                                               
accommodate the needs  of these small yachts, but  that his group                                                               
cannot  support  HB 251  as  written.   [The  various  interested                                                               
parties] have  reached some agreements, but  [additional work] is                                                               
necessary.    Mr.  Winter   said  he  appreciated  Representative                                                               
Dahlstrom's   leadership   in   bringing  together   the   pilots                                                               
[associations] and  the agents  for the  small yachts  to discuss                                                               
the  issue.   He  said  he thinks  there  is  agreement with  the                                                               
language, so the process can move forward.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTERS identified  several issues key to his group.   One is                                                               
the definition of pleasure craft.   He said the group has reached                                                               
agreement  on  a legal  definition:    "a  not for  hire  foreign                                                               
vessel."  [Another  issue is that] all foreign  yachts would have                                                               
to [carry]  a pilot from  the vessel's initial entry  into Alaska                                                               
waters to its first port of call  in each region.  The purpose of                                                               
this requirement,  he said, is  not to decide whether  the master                                                               
was  competent, but  rather  to give  the  master information  on                                                               
Southeast, for example, gill net  openings, cruise ship schedules                                                               
so  that the  master would  know  what traffic  to expect,  radio                                                               
frequencies to monitor as well as information on passages.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-36, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2364                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WINTER explained  that the  pilot would  make sure  that the                                                               
master had all  the pertinent charts.  [The  pilot's role covers]                                                               
strictly safety  issues.  He  said the pilots  associations would                                                               
also want  to have  a pilot  on board when  the yacht  leaves the                                                               
region.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  said the group  agreed to a  length of 53  meters and                                                               
agreed  to  get  rid  of  the gross  tonnage  because  it  is  an                                                               
ambiguous number.   For example,  a 170-foot ship could  be 1,000                                                               
gross tons,  while a vessel [varying  in length from] 170  to 300                                                               
feet could be  99 gross tons.  [Tonnage] is  a volume measurement                                                               
built around a  bunch of specialized rules.  He  used the example                                                               
of the Yorktown Clipper, which is  almost 300 feet but is only 99                                                               
gross tons.   Therefore, this legislation uses a  fixed figure of                                                               
length and anyone can look at a vessel and determine its length.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  said the pilots wanted  to put in some  conditions on                                                               
[yachts'] transit.  There are  some areas, regardless of the size                                                               
of the  yacht, that [should] require  a state pilot on  board, he                                                               
said.   These  include  Valdez Narrows,  Wrangell Narrows,  Peril                                                               
Straits, and  Sergius Narrows in  Southeast Alaska.  He  said the                                                               
yachts  have an  option  of using  a pilot  for  that transit  or                                                               
choosing a  different route so there's  no need for a  pilot.  He                                                               
said the  concern is for  commerce.  If a  ship of 170  feet goes                                                               
aground in Wrangell Narrows, it  would interrupt commerce as well                                                               
as  ferry traffic.    He said  that the  pilots  consider this  a                                                               
safety  issue.   They  also want  an  Alaska-registered agent  to                                                               
represent  the yachts.    In  the past,  the  pilots  have had  a                                                               
difficult time  getting paid  by some foreign  yachts.   An agent                                                               
takes care of bonds, [can be  held responsible for payment to the                                                               
pilots], can  arrange contracts and  give pilots  advance notice,                                                               
and handles the customs and immigration details for the yachts.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2261                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG noted  that  there's  a distinction  [in                                                               
state law]  now in the  exemptions between a  U.S.-registered and                                                               
foreign-registered vessels  of less than  300 tons.  He  asked if                                                               
the compromise  leaves the U.S.  registry alone or will  it apply                                                               
to both types of registry.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  replied that the requirements  for U.S.-flagged ships                                                               
are federal.  He explained  that the federal government regulates                                                               
U.S.-flagged vessels,  and the  state regulates  foreign vessels.                                                               
The legislature can't do anything about U.S.-flagged vessels.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked about the federal  requirement for                                                               
pilotage on U.S.-registered vessels.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  responded that if the  vessel is under 99  gross tons                                                               
and [engaged] in coast-wise trade, even  if it's a U.S. hull, the                                                               
master and  the mates must have  made three round trips  in every                                                               
area before  they can act as  a first class pilot.   The Yorktown                                                               
Clipper, the Sea Lion, and many  other 99 gross "tonners" seen in                                                               
Southeast Alaska all have crew on  board that have made a minimum                                                               
of three round trips in every  area.  For a pleasure yacht, there                                                               
is no such requirement.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  confirmed that for any  U.S.- registered                                                               
[pleasure  craft], there  is no  restriction  or requirement  for                                                               
pilotage.   He also  confirmed that this  [bill applies]  only to                                                               
foreign-registered vessels.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER said  only if those vessels are under  300 gross tons.                                                               
He said HB 251 covers vessels up  to 53 meters -- they would have                                                               
no pilotage  requirements other than  initial entry and  exit and                                                               
for the couple of narrow passages in Southeast.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  asked  whether smaller  pleasure  craft                                                               
from British Columbia are considered foreign registry.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER said  if it's between 20 and 53  meters, it [wouldn't]                                                               
need a pilot.  A vessel under 20 meters does not need a pilot.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked about the minimum  [vessel size of                                                               
under 20 meters].                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  said the 20 meters  comes from the COLREGS,  which is                                                               
The International  Regulations for Avoiding Collisions  at Sea or                                                               
Rules of the Road.   He said that 20 meters [65  feet or less] is                                                             
the break between small vessels and big vessels.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  said anything above the  53 meters would                                                               
have to  have a pilot.   He recalled that Mr.  Shattuck mentioned                                                               
inbound pilotage and inquired about outbound [pilotage].                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2140                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER said that [pilots would  be required to be onboard] on                                                               
initial entry  and on exit from  the region; that's the  only two                                                               
times pilotage would  be required.  He  described different entry                                                               
points in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  asked  if   there  is  a  problem  with                                                               
availability of pilots.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER  testified that  since pilotage  started in  Alaska in                                                               
1972,  there  has   never  been  a  ship  that   went  without  a                                                               
[requested] pilot.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  how  long in  advance do  vessels                                                               
need to make a reservation [for a pilot].                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WINTER said  that a  reservation must  be made  96 hours  in                                                               
advance, according to statute.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  inquired as  to the  typical cost  of an                                                               
in-bound voyage.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2119                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. WINTER said it would be $600-900, depending on the weather.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  said he will hold  [HB 251] over until  next week                                                               
and keep public testimony open.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                

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