Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/01/1995 08:10 AM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Number 150 HRES - 03/01/95 HB 107 - RESTRICTED LIMITED ENTRY PERMITS REPRESENTATIVE BEN GRUSSENDORF, PRIME SPONSOR, stated HB 107 came from a moratorium situation. He said about three years ago there were concerns about the pressures on the dungeness crab stock and the sustainability of the stock while deriving income off of it. The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) was given the tool for a moratorium. During that moratorium, the CFEC and people in the fisheries have been looking at the crab questions and have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of the stock to enter into some form of limited entry in the dungeness crab fishery, in Southeast, to protect the stock. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF stated HB 107 addresses the issue and gives the CFEC the ability to determine a plan to limit the pots, etc., but stressed HB 107 does not address any specific plan. HB 107 simply authorizes the CFEC to do it. He stressed HB 107 does not affect the ability of the Board of Fish to make their decisions. He explained what HB 107 will do is bring people into the dungeness crab fisheries at their historical level of participation. FRANK HOMAN, COMMISSIONER, CFEC, stated CFEC supports HB 107. He said HB 107 is a continuation of an earlier effort to look for a solution in the crab fishery. He noted in the crab fishery, there is a great diversity of effort levels and establishing a limited entry program similar to the current salmon industry would allow that effort level to increase significantly, which is not a good conservation measure but rather is counter-productive to the resource. He explained HB 107 would allow a variation to the typical limited entry system in that the CFEC could keep the effort level at its current capacity by restricting the permits to some historical level of effort. MR. HOMAN told committee members that currently there are approximately 45,000 pots in Southeast. If the current system was continued, there would be about 300 permits issued in the fishery and each permit could fish 300 pots each, raising the effort level to 90,000 pots over time. For that reason, the CFEC has been reluctant to give the traditional limited entry to the crab fishery and has been searching for the last three years to determine another effort restriction. He felt HB 107 is something which can be worked with to keep the fishery at its current level with its participants, while preserving the resource. Number 276 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS stated there are probably fishermen concerned about not being able to get 200 or 300 pots at a time. For example, if his son wanted to start fishing but is only fishing 75 or 100 pots, he asked how he would get up to 300 pots to make the fishing viable for him. MR. HOMAN responded a proportional pot limit on a permit means the fishery would be similar to what it is today. For example, if someone was fishing 100 pots, they could continue to fish 100 pots; those who are fishing 300 pots could continue to fish 300 pots. He said if the 100 pot permit was sold, a 300 pot permit could be purchased, which allows people with 100 pot permits to move up and also allows new entrants to come in at a lower level. Number 306 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES clarified if a 100 pot permit was sold, a 300 pot permit could be purchased. MR. HOMAN said all the permits, at whatever pot level allowed, would be transferrable permits, so they could be bought and sold. He stressed that would depend, however, on whether or not a permit was available. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES clarified that in Mr. Homan's example there would have to be two permits available. MR. HOMAN replied that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked how many permits can a person hold. MR. HOMAN stated a person can hold one permit in each fishery under the current system. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN clarified a person could not fish 600 pots with two permits. MR. HOMAN responded that would not be allowed. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN made a MOTION to ADOPT CSHB 107(FSH). CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections. Hearing none, the MOTION PASSED. Number 332 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS wondered how the amount of gear each fisherman is using can be verified. MR. HOMAN stated that is an issue which the CFEC has to give more analysis to. He said the CFEC will need to review catch histories, harvest levels and the number of pots claimed on registration forms to determine a ratio or formula. He noted the CFEC would work with biologists on the issue. He pointed out the CFEC has all of the harvest fish tickets from the past, so they know what each individual harvest level has been. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said if the point is reached where there is over fishing with the number of pots allowed and there had to be a cutback, he wondered how that cutback would happen. MR. HOMAN stated the crab fishery in Southeast is now under a moratorium. He said the CFEC does not have the ability to change the pot level as that is a Board of Fisheries decision. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if that is a total for all of the fishery. MR. HOMAN replied that was correct--it is not an individual or group total. He said one of the difficulties which has arisen is the Board of Fisheries only meets about every three years on these issues. He stated HB 107 says the CFEC can use the maximum allowed by the Board of Fisheries and can issue permits based on a proportion of that maximum. Number 385 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN clarified if there is a drop in the number of sustainable crab that can be taken, at some point in time there is a limitation put on by ADF&G in regard to the time frames of fishing so the amount of the crab catch can be controlled. MR. HOMAN explained the department can adjust seasons, limits, sexes and sizes. Number 405 BILL FLOR, PRESIDENT, SOUTHEAST DUNGENESS CRAB ASSOCIATION (SEDCA), urged committee members to support HB 107. He said HB 107 is part of continuing process, since 1984, to achieve a protection of the crab resource in Southeast. He stressed that resource does need some protection. He stated the problem with the traditional limited entry is the fleet is so diverse--not everyone fishes the full 300 pot limit and many people fish on the weekends with very few pots. He pointed out if a traditional limited entry was created, the potential for growth in the number of pots would increase dramatically. MR. FLOR said in 1991, SEDCA came to the legislature and presented the problem and a moratorium on the crab fishery was passed so the fishery could be studied. He noted the CFEC held hearings in the fall and went to all of the Southeast communities. The Southeast fleet was fairly united in creating a tiered system, even though many other ideas were discussed. He stressed the tiered system seemed fair, the diversity of the fleet would be grandfathered in as it exists now, and it is a fairly simple plan. Number 437 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked if the moratorium was just on the Southeast crab fishery. MR. FLOR replied it was. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN clarified HB 107 reflects statewide. MR. FLOR said it does. BETH FLOR, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and stated she is in favor of HB 107. She felt HB 107 will enable CFEC to design specific limited entry programs that will solve many problems for resource conservation, as well as provide equitable levels of participation. SCOTT CROSS, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference, expressing support for HB 107. He said it is quite clear the traditional limited entry will not work for the dungeness crab fishery. He stated if the moratorium is allowed to expire, there will be a big impact. He noted other fisheries are breaking new ground and moving towards a less derby-style fishery and there is an opportunity to do the same in the dungeness crab fishery. He said this will help the value of the crab, as well as the safety of the fishermen. ANDY WRIGHT, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107. MARK JENSEN, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and said he would support a bill that would get a limited entry type program going. He stated he does not agree with the wording in HB 107, especially not being able to change a permit. He felt if he has a permit for 100 pots and another person is going to sell their 100 pot permit, he should be able to buy another permit. He said when the moratorium bill was passed, it provided for research of the crab stocks and to his knowledge, that has never been done except for dock surveys. Number 489 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked Mr. Jensen to explain his first opposition to HB 107. MR. JENSEN said if a person originally receives 100 pots, he cannot add to that number of pots unless he sells his permit and buys another permit. He stated he did not understand why, if a person originally got a permit for 100 pots, he could not buy another 100 pot permit. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated the committee substitute for HB 107 took care of that issue. He noted the original bill said, "The fishing capacity allowed under an entry permit may not be changed after the permit is issued." He explained in the committee substitute that language was deleted. MR. JENSEN said that would alleviate the problem. He expressed concern also on the fact that many people show 300 pots on their registration when, in fact, they are not fishing that many pots. He felt using the registration criteria would not be realistic information for the program. He noted also if someone has a bad year, that could affect the criteria used for the program. Number 520 MR. HOMAN stated what Mr. Jensen is talking about is a provision which was looked at during the public hearing process and it was called a stackable provision where a person could consolidate permits. He said there is difficulty with that provision in the current system in that permits are limited to one permit per fishery. He noted to accommodate a stackable system, there would be a need to consolidate permits which is a difficult thing to incorporate into the CFEC's current system because it does not occur anywhere else. He felt it would be a very complicated provision to incorporate at this time but is something which could be looked at in the future. He stressed CFEC does not want to do anything to jeopardize any of the other existing limited entry fisheries by having a provision that could consolidate permits. MR. HOMAN noted the CFEC is currently faced with a court case called the Johns case which says a fishery can become too exclusive by a reduction in the number of permits. He said if it gets to a point where the court would declare the fishery too exclusive, new permits would have to be issued in that fishery. He stated that is why the stackable provision was not pursued. Number 544 LADD NORHEIM, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107. He expressed concern about the viability of the crab fishery and felt HB 107 will help keep the fishery at a viable level. He stated he likes HB 107 because it gives a kid out of high school the opportunity to buy a small pot permit on which he could build. DAVE BEEBE, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107. He stated his main concern is the direction of the fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and those fishermen moving into Southeast Alaska. SHERRI WOHLHUETTER, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and said she is strongly in favor of HB 107. She stated HB 107 will give the CFEC a responsible management tool for the crab resource which is crucial for the longevity of this resource. She stressed if the resource is not managed responsibly, it will not be available for anyone. ROCKY LITTLETON, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107. MICHAEL SHELDON, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107 because he is concerned that the California, Oregon and Washington fleet plan to come up and fish the fishery. He stated if the fishery is allowed to be accessed by a wide open fishery, the production will be hampered. He said he would like to see his son get a chance to get into the fishery. DENNIS ONEAL, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and expressed support for HB 107. GWYNNE SHORT, PETERSBURG, testified via teleconference and stated her husband, Joe Short, has been in the fisheries for 15 years. They both support HB 107. TAPE 95-27, SIDE A Number 000 MR. BRUCE stated the department supports HB 107. He recalled that earlier testimony in the fisheries committee indicated the bill was not needed from a biological standpoint. He clarified the department's biologists believe HB 107 does have biological benefits for protecting the crab stocks from over-exploitation. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked someone to explain the committee substitute. MR. HOMAN said the committee substitute removes one sentence from the original bill. He stated in the original bill on page 2, lines 22 and 23, there was reference that the permit could not be changed after it has been issued. He noted the Attorney General's Office was somewhat concerned that reference may indicate some restriction on the Board of Fisheries. He stressed the Board of Fisheries still has the final authority on the maximum numbers of pots. Number 045 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES made a MOTION to MOVE CSHB 107(FSH) with accompanying zero fiscal note out of committee with individual recommendations. CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections. Hearing none, the MOTION PASSED. CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced that the committee was going to hear HB 170 again but due to time, it will be taken up again on Monday, March 6.