Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/17/2000 01:45 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 429 - MORATORIA: HAIR CRAB & SCALLOP FISHERIES                                                                             
Number 0069                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR HUDSON announced  that the first order  of business would                                                              
be HOUSE BILL NO. 429, "An Act extending  the termination date for                                                              
the vessel  permit moratoria for  the Bering Sea Korean  hair crab                                                              
fishery and the weathervane scallop  fishery; and providing for an                                                              
effective date."                                                                                                                
LIZ CABRERA,  Staff to  Representative Bill  Hudson, Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature, speaking  as committee  aide for the  House Resources                                                              
Standing  Committee  [which  had  sponsored the  bill],  read  the                                                              
following sponsor statement:                                                                                                    
       HB 429 extends the current vessel moratoria on the                                                                       
     Korean hair crab (AS 16.43.901) and weathervane scallop                                                                    
     (AS 16.43.906) fisheries.  These  moratoria were enacted                                                                   
     by the legislature in 1996 and 1997, respectively.                                                                         
     These extensions  are necessary because  the legislature                                                                   
     has  not   yet  created  a   viable  limited   entry  or                                                                   
     moratorium  program for the  Commercial Fisheries  Entry                                                                   
     Commission  [CFEC] to use  after these vessel  moratoria                                                                   
     expire.   Without some type  of program in  place, these                                                                   
     fisheries  will   likely  have  to  be  reopened   to  a                                                                   
     potential  influx  of  new  participants  or  be  closed                                                                   
     entirely.     In  addition,  the  state   risks  federal                                                                   
     preemption of state management of these fisheries.                                                                         
     When  the   legislature  enacted  these   moratoria,  it                                                                   
     recognized   that  these   fisheries   might  not   lend                                                                   
     themselves  to   limited  entry  under   existing  state                                                                   
     statute.     With   that   in  mind,   the   legislature                                                                   
     implemented  the moratoria and  directed CFEC to  submit                                                                   
     legislation  for a  vessel-based  limited entry  program                                                                   
     the following  year.   Legislation authorizing  a vessel                                                                   
     permit  limitation system  was introduced  in the  House                                                                   
     and Senate, but neither bill  has moved out of its first                                                                   
     committee  of referral.    It appears  that  legislation                                                                   
     will  not   be  passed  in  time  to   implement  vessel                                                                   
     limitation programs in these  two fisheries prior to the                                                                   
     expiration of the moratoria.                                                                                               
     The weathervane  scallop and Korean hair  crab fisheries                                                                   
     occur  in  both state  waters  and in  adjacent  federal                                                                   
     waters  of the Exclusive  Economic  Zone (EEZ), but  the                                                                   
     state has assumed management of both fisheries.                                                                            
Number 0354                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  BARNES stated  that she  does not  support HB  429                                                              
because in both  1996 and in 1997, when the  legislature was being                                                              
asked to enact this moratorium, they  were told that there were no                                                              
uncertain terms:   the first  time, it was  for one year,  and the                                                              
second time, it was for two years,  she indicated.  Representative                                                              
Barnes further  indicated her belief  that entry is  being limited                                                              
through moratoria.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR HUDSON pointed out that  last year there was the issue of                                                              
transferability, which Representative  Barnes opposed, and that is                                                              
the  reason that  this year  there is  a simple  extension of  the                                                              
moratoria authorization.   He indicated  that he does not  view HB                                                              
429 as institutionalizing  limited entry.  Rather, the  goal is to                                                              
have CFEC come  back to the legislature with something  other than                                                              
just   continuing  this.   He said  he understands  Representative                                                              
Barnes's point of view, but he thought  they had taken care of her                                                              
principal concern, the issue of transferability.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES stressed that it was a big concern.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR HUDSON indicated that they did try to address it.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY  wondered how big the hair  crab fishery is                                                              
and why it is mixed with scallops.                                                                                              
Number 0653                                                                                                                     
MARY   McDOWELL,   Commissioner,    Commercial   Fisheries   Entry                                                              
Commission,  stated  that the  CFEC  supports  HB 429  because  it                                                              
provides a  stop-gap measure needed  to avoid some  possible chaos                                                              
in  these  two  fisheries.   She  indicated  that  there  is  some                                                              
confusion about  the various  measures that  have been  before the                                                              
legislature.  The  bill last year, HB 104, was  a separate measure                                                              
that would authorize the CFEC to  implement moratoria in fisheries                                                              
when necessary; one provision in  that bill would have allowed the                                                              
CFEC, through regulation,  to extend an existing  moratorium.  She                                                              
pointed out that  HB 104 is in the Senate and has  not moved.  The                                                              
other bill  that is related to this  measure is SB 143,  which the                                                              
legislature  had directed  CFEC to  draft  and bring  back to  the                                                              
MS. McDOWELL  pointed out that  the state's current  limited entry                                                              
program  is an  individual-based  permit program,  based upon  the                                                              
owner-operator  model that is  typical in  salmon fisheries.   The                                                              
legislature passed the Limited Entry  Act 27 years ago; since that                                                              
time, the number and scope of Alaska's  fisheries have grown.  The                                                              
characteristics  of some  of the  new and  evolving fisheries  are                                                              
quite   different   from   that    owner-operator   model,   which                                                              
characterized  the fisheries that  were the norm  at the  time the                                                              
permit  program was  created.   This  is  especially  true of  the                                                              
larger  vessel fisheries  in  the  EEZ, so  it  is important  that                                                              
Alaska's laws  and programs  be updated, as  needed, to  keep pace                                                              
with the changing needs and realities of the resource uses.                                                                     
MS. McDOWELL  indicated  the legislature  had recognized  that; in                                                              
passing  the two  moratoria -  hair crab  and scallops  - it  gave                                                              
those temporary  permits o  the owners of  the vessels.   In those                                                              
fisheries, the investments  in the vessels are made  by people, in                                                              
most cases, who  do not operate the big vessels  but hire skippers                                                              
to do  so.   The legislature  had directed  the CFEC, during  that                                                              
time, to bring  legislation back that would create  an alternative                                                              
program that  could be  used to permanently  limit fisheries  like                                                              
that; they  did that, and it was  introduced as SB 143,  which has                                                              
not moved.                                                                                                                      
MS.  McDOWELL said  her point  is  that these  fisheries that  are                                                              
under moratoria are  about to go back to open  access, because the                                                              
legislatively  enacted  moratoria  will  expire.   She  said  that                                                              
[CFEC] does not have a tool to limit them, which is the dilemma.                                                                
Number 1018                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR HUDSON  asked Ms. McDowell  to respond to  Representative                                                              
Cowdery's question  regarding how large  the hair crab  fishery is                                                              
and why the two fisheries are mixed  together.  He also asked what                                                              
the  dollar  value  is  and  what   the  significance  is  to  the                                                              
communities where the product is actually landed.                                                                               
MS.  McDOWELL  clarified  that the  legislature  had  enacted  two                                                              
separate moratoria -  two separate bills - a year  apart.  One was                                                              
for hair crab, and  one was for scallops.  One  expires this year,                                                              
and  one expires  next  year.   The  only  reason they  are  mixed                                                              
together is  that both will  need an extension;  therefore, rather                                                              
than  introducing  two  separate  bills  extending  the  moratoria                                                              
separately,  this bill  [HB 429]  changes the  expiration date  of                                                              
both moratoria in one bill.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY  wondered if the fisherman  affected by the                                                              
bill all fish for hair crab and scallops.                                                                                       
Number 1116                                                                                                                     
KURT SCHELLE,  Researcher, Commercial Fisheries  Entry Commission,                                                              
answered that  they are  two separate fleets.   In the  Bering Sea                                                              
Korean hair  crab fishery,  25 vessels  are eligible for  permits;                                                              
under the moratoria, the participation  of vessels has ranged from                                                              
19 down to 8.   There has been a decline in  the guideline harvest                                                              
in the [hair crab] fishery in recent  years, with the stocks going                                                              
down.  He indicated the scallop fishery  is a completely different                                                              
fishery,  with a  different moratorium.    In both  the state  and                                                              
federal moratoria,  there are  18 vessels  total; under  the state                                                              
moratoria in state waters, there are 10 vessels total.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked how they catch the hair crab.                                                                      
MR. SCHELLE replied that it is a pot fishery.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  BARNES  indicated  it  appears that  most  of  the                                                              
vessels are registered out-of-state.                                                                                            
MR. SCHELLE said  that is correct.  In the Bering  Sea Korean hair                                                              
crab fishery,  the majority  of the  vessel permits  are going  to                                                              
owners that have  nonresident addresses.  He pointed  out that for                                                              
the vessel permit, there is no residency  declaration, so they are                                                              
basing  it on  the entity  that owns  the  vessel.   Of those  who                                                              
renewed  permits over  the 1996-to-1998  time period  and who  are                                                              
eligible to renew them this year, 76 percent are nonresidents.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked if one  can presume, then, that except                                                              
for what  the crews  are being  paid,  most of the  money for  the                                                              
fishery is going out-of-state.                                                                                                  
MR. SCHELLE responded  that there is a lot of  activity associated                                                              
with  the vessel;  there is  the landing  of the  product and  the                                                              
shipping of the product.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR HUDSON pointed out that  often there are taxes that go to                                                              
the  communities  when  the  product   is  landed.    He  wondered                                                              
approximately how much money goes to the communities.                                                                           
MR. SCHELLE said he has not calculated that.                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HUDSON wondered if there is a percentage.                                                                              
MS. McDOWELL  indicated that  the fisheries  business tax  goes to                                                              
the general fund.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES  said it goes  through the general  fund and                                                              
back to the communities.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR HUDSON indicated  that could be looked into  further.  He                                                              
asked whether  it is  known where  the crew  is from, because  the                                                              
hair  crab  fishery  is  lucrative,  being  valued  at  a  million                                                              
dollars.  He wondered what the value is on the scallop fishery.                                                                 
MR.  SCHELLE  responded  that  the scallop  fishery  in  1999  was                                                              
estimated to  have a value of $2.7  million.  He said  that in the                                                              
past it has been valued higher, up to the $7 million range.                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  HUDSON asked  how many  of the vessels  involved  in the                                                              
scallop fishery are also coming from the Lower 48.                                                                              
MR. SCHELLE replied  that it is a mix.  Over  the moratoria years,                                                              
state scallop permits  have been about 67 percent  nonresident and                                                              
33 percent resident.                                                                                                            
Number 1602                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  wondered  why  there are  so  few  resident                                                              
MS. McDOWELL indicated  it is hard to know.  She  pointed out that                                                              
these fisheries  are large-vessel  fisheries  that operate  out in                                                              
the federal  waters and  cross into  state waters.   They  are not                                                              
typical Alaskan fisheries; the [CFEC]  program is designed for the                                                              
typical  Alaskan fishery,  which consists  of smaller vessels  and                                                              
owner-operator type  situations.   She explained that  the dilemma                                                              
is  to  make it  manageable  and  to maintain  management  of  the                                                              
resource.   She said [the state's]  only other option would  be to                                                              
open access and not limit the numbers,  but they have no reason to                                                              
believe that the [hair crab] fishery  would become more Alaskan by                                                              
opening  it  up further;  rather,  there  would probably  be  more                                                              
"outside" vessels.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  referred to a  comment by Mr.  Schelle, with                                                              
regard to  the hair crab  fishery, about the vessel  participation                                                              
declining from  19 to  8.  He wondered  if it  has to do  with the                                                              
availability of the resource.                                                                                                   
MR. SCHELLE indicated that the Korean  hair crab resource has been                                                              
declining in the  past two or three years.  The  ADF&G has reduced                                                              
the  guideline  harvest,  so  there  has been  a  falling  off  in                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  wondered if ADF&G  is doing any  checking on                                                              
the availability of that species and what the trends are.                                                                       
MS. McDOWELL replied that ADF&G is responsible for that.                                                                        
Number 1802                                                                                                                     
GERON  BRUCE, Legislative  Liaison,  Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                              
Alaska Department  of Fish  & Game, explained  that the  survey of                                                              
the  hair crab  is  conducted  by  the National  Marine  Fisheries                                                              
Service  (NMFS), which  also conducts  the surveys  on the  opilio                                                              
crab and other crab  resources in the Bering Sea.   He pointed out                                                              
that [the  fishery] is  in federal  waters and  is managed  by the                                                              
state  under a  fisheries  management plan  adopted  by the  North                                                              
Pacific  Fishery  Management  Council   (NPFMC),  which  delegates                                                              
actual in-season management authority  to the state.  He indicated                                                              
that  the  state   receives  federal  funding,   and  the  federal                                                              
government  contributes the  survey.   The  survey information  is                                                              
then  analyzed by  scientists from  both  ADF&G and  NMFS, and  an                                                              
annual quota is established.                                                                                                    
MR.  BRUCE pointed  out that  the stock  is declining,  and it  is                                                              
characteristic of crab stocks, in  general, in the Bering Sea.  He                                                              
indicated that  the department believes  that, to some  extent, it                                                              
is due  to environmental  factors and may  also be due  to fishing                                                              
practices.   He said people are  examining that now and  trying to                                                              
come to  some answers  as to  why the  declines are occurring  and                                                              
what can  be done to  prevent further decline.   He added  that if                                                              
the moratoria were  to come off of these fisheries  now, while the                                                              
crab  stocks  are   down  -  and  considering   that  the  federal                                                              
government recently entered into  a license limitation program for                                                              
groundfish,  including  pollock,  cod  and  flounder  in  offshore                                                              
waters - there  is the potential for large vessels  to be excluded                                                              
from  those  fisheries,  and  they   will  be  looking  for  other                                                              
opportunities.   If the moratoria were  to come off of  the Korean                                                              
hair  crab fishery,  in particular,  many of  those vessels  could                                                              
immediately  switch to the  [hair crab]  fishery; given  the small                                                              
size  of the  resource to  begin with,  it would  cause some  real                                                              
conservation concerns  for the department.   He explained  that it                                                              
would be harder  to manage a small quota with  an unlimited amount                                                              
of effort  than it would  be to manage  it with limited  amount of                                                              
Number 1995                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES  wondered if one  of the problems  that they                                                              
have been having with the crab fishery  and other bottom fisheries                                                              
relates to dragging the bottom.                                                                                                 
MR. BRUCE indicated there is certainly  a lot of concern about the                                                              
impact on  crab of on-bottom  trawling, because  crab is  a bottom                                                              
species.  He  said the department and NPFMC have  tried to address                                                              
those concerns,  and there  are areas that  are important  to crab                                                              
that have  been closed to  trawling.  It  is not the  only factor,                                                              
but it is one factor.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES  wondered if it is possible  to regulate the                                                              
fishery through quotas and seasons instead of through moratoria.                                                                
MR. BRUCE indicated that [ADF&G]  may use many tools to manage the                                                              
fisheries,  including having  a quota,  gear limitations,  seasons                                                              
and  size limits.   He  pointed out  that  the reason  it is  also                                                              
important to limit fishing power  is that it plays a very big part                                                              
in the  equation, especially  for vessels  in the  100-to-160-foot                                                              
range  that  can  stay  out  in  any  kind  of  weather  and  fish                                                              
effectively.   He added that "effort"  is a very  important factor                                                              
and  a  variable that  needs  to  be considered  in  managing  for                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES referred to  Mr. Bruce's comment with regard                                                              
to fishing around the clock.                                                                                                    
MR. BRUCE clarified  that [ADF&G] could take measures  to restrict                                                              
the efficiency, but  there is a balancing act  between restricting                                                              
efficiency and the  economics of the fishery; if  they get too far                                                              
out of line, then the fishery is no longer economically viable.                                                                 
Number 2180                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  HUDSON  agreed that  bottom  dragging  affects crab  and                                                              
other species in  that area.  He pointed out that  it is difficult                                                              
to know what is going on out there  in those fisheries, as opposed                                                              
to the  salmon fishery,  which is right  here in Southeast  Alaska                                                              
where they  can keep  a watchful  on eye  on it.   We wondered  if                                                              
there are any state observation vessels out there.                                                                              
MR. BRUCE answered  that there are only a couple  of state vessels                                                              
that would be capable of operating  out there.  He pointed out how                                                              
expensive it  is to put a  state observation vessel on  patrol out                                                              
there when  the gross vessel  value is  a million dollars.   There                                                              
start to be diminishing  returns, where the cost  to the public of                                                              
administering and  enforcing the fishery start to  be greater than                                                              
the value of  the fishery; then they have to  question the purpose                                                              
of the  fishery.  He  added that those  are the kinds  of concerns                                                              
that the  state struggles  with.   It is  expensive, and  the hair                                                              
crab fishery is a relatively small fishery.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES commented:                                                                                                
     Who's to say  what is a small fishery, and  who's to say                                                                   
     ...  who won't  participate if  it drops  below, say,  a                                                                   
     million  dollars? But  the problems  I  have with  these                                                                   
     moratoriums  is that  the  time is  going  to come  when                                                                   
     we're going to  see -- you know, we've got  letters here                                                                   
     from the Aleut people, and what  you'll end up having is                                                                   
     these  people that  are  fishing these  waters,  out-of-                                                                   
     staters,  they'll be  grandfathered in,  and the  people                                                                   
     that rightly ought  to be able to fish that  [hair crab]                                                                   
     fishery are  not going to  have that opportunity.   I've                                                                   
     sat here too many years not  to know whereby I speak, so                                                                   
     I would just  ask that the committee members  read these                                                                   
     letters from the Aleut people  and from other calls that                                                                   
     I've  had, and  understand what  my  concerns are,  that                                                                   
     Alaskans  should have  some  opportunity to  participate                                                                   
     and not  be grandfathered out  of a fishery,  and that's                                                                   
     what I see coming down the pipe.                                                                                           
MR. BRUCE pointed out that under  the current moratorium, there is                                                              
an open access area of five miles  around the Pribilof Islands for                                                              
smaller vessels  to participate.   So  far during the  moratorium,                                                              
only two vessels have taken advantage of that.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES  pointed out that the Aleut  people in their                                                              
letters are saying  that they are trying to acquire  larger boats.                                                              
She stressed  that she  hates to  see the people  that live  in an                                                              
area get ripped off by people living thousands of miles away.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY wondered if  there are processing ships out                                                              
there to buy the product.                                                                                                       
MR. BRUCE  indicated that he  believes participants come  to shore                                                              
to sell the product.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR HUDSON pointed out that  when the product is landed it is                                                              
taxed, which goes to the state and the community.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COWDERY  wondered where  the  market  is for  hair                                                              
MR. BRUCE responded  that he believes it goes to  a live market in                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  HUDSON stressed  that by  pulling the  opportunity                                                              
for the  state managers  to manage the  [hair crab] fishery,  [the                                                              
legislature] could  be capitulating to  be managed by  the federal                                                              
Number 2550                                                                                                                     
MR. BRUCE  indicated it is the  state's goal to see  that Alaskans                                                              
benefit from these  fisheries.  He explained that  the reason that                                                              
the fishery looks the way it does  now is that the Bering Sea crab                                                              
fisheries were  developed primarily by large fishing  fleets based                                                              
out of Seattle,  Washington.  He pointed out that  now [the state]                                                              
has a tool to  move toward getting more Alaskans  participating in                                                              
those fisheries,  which is the  community development  quota (CDQ)                                                              
program.   Some CDQ  groups are moving  into those fisheries,  and                                                              
certainly  a   management  system  that  provides   more  control,                                                              
definition   and  long-range  sustainability   could  offer   that                                                              
opportunity to Alaskans to increase  their participation.  He said                                                              
it is a long-term  vision and something that the  state could work                                                              
towards.    He added  that  maintaining  the  status quo  in  this                                                              
fishery could  help to  develop some  additional tools  that could                                                              
assist the state to move in that direction.                                                                                     
JOE KYLE,  Chief Operating  Officer for  a CDQ Company;  fisheries                                                              
consultant; and  voting member,  North Pacific Fishery  Management                                                              
Council,  urged  the  committee  to  pass the  bill  and  move  it                                                              
forward.   He  indicated that  when looking  at the  bill for  the                                                              
moratorium, they  tried to factor  in a 58-foot exemption  so that                                                              
the coastal  residents of  Alaska could get  into the  [hair crab]                                                              
fishery  and it would  not be  totally locked  up by  out-of-state                                                              
fisherman.   He  explained that  they are  talking about  offshore                                                              
deep-water  fisheries   where  they   do  not  have   the  typical                                                              
management found  in the near-shore  coastal fisheries,  which the                                                              
Board of Fisheries usually manages.                                                                                             
MR. KYLE told members that limited  entry systems are being placed                                                              
on all the fisheries  in the Bering Sea by federal  fish managers.                                                              
It is kicking  a lot of out-of-state folks out  of those fisheries                                                              
because  they  do  not  have  enough   participation  to  qualify.                                                              
Therefore,  those folks  are looking  to in-state-water  fisheries                                                              
that are not currently limited or  to fisheries like the hair crab                                                              
fishery, which would not have a limitation  if the moratorium were                                                              
to lapse.  He noted that ironically  there are two types of people                                                              
that can enter the  fishery:  those who have never  done it before                                                              
and displaced fisherman  from out-of-state.  He  stressed that the                                                              
outside world  is going  to impinge  on them, and  it is  going to                                                              
"kill" the  few Alaskans that are  in this fishery if they  do not                                                              
use moratoria and limited entry in  small fisheries that the state                                                              
is managing.                                                                                                                    
JOHN  WINTHER, Participant  in  the Bering  Sea  Korean hair  crab                                                              
fishery,  stated  that  he  has been  in  the  commercial  fishing                                                              
business  for  36  years  and  has   the  only  crab  vessel  that                                                              
participates in most of the crab  fisheries in the Bering Sea.  He                                                              
said  he was  a  prime supporter  of  the current  moratorium;  he                                                              
indicated that  many of  the same arguments  that were  given then                                                              
are valid  today.  He  pointed out that  the hair crab  fishery is                                                              
the  only  fishery  that  does not  have  an  offshore  processor;                                                              
currently  every crab  caught  is delivered  to  shore in  Alaska,                                                              
which is  the highest  economic value  that they  can get  for the                                                              
crab.  If the moratorium expires,  that will change.  He explained                                                              
that the  main facility  is in Saint  Paul, and  they pay  a sales                                                              
tax, which  is 2  percent of the  sale value.   He noted  that the                                                              
quotas vary  every year and have been  as high as 2 to  3 million.                                                              
In  the early  1980s the  fishery declined;  it was  closed for  a                                                              
number of years and then the stocks rebounded.                                                                                  
TAPE 00-21, SIDE B                                                                                                              
MR. WINTHER  added that two recent  factors would affect  the hair                                                              
crab  fisheries.   First,  there  is the  drastic  decline of  the                                                              
opilio crab resource, as mentioned  earlier.  In the year 2001, it                                                              
looks as if there will be no [opilio  resource], which will result                                                              
in bankruptcies and  financial disasters that he  predicts will be                                                              
more severe  than with the  king crab fishery  in 1981.   He noted                                                              
that  250 vessels  participate in  the opilio  fishery; without  a                                                              
moratorium, these  vessels will try to make every  dollar possible                                                              
in  the hair  crab fishery  before [declaring]  bankruptcy.   Such                                                              
action could bankrupt a vessel that  has been marginally making it                                                              
in  the hair  crab fishery.   Therefore,  the trickle-down  effect                                                              
could come into play if outside entrants  were allowed in the hair                                                              
crab fishery.                                                                                                                   
MR. WINTHER continued.  He reported  that the second recent factor                                                              
is the  American Fisheries  Act, which  mandated that the  pollock                                                              
fishery, the largest  fishery in the world, name  the participants                                                              
that can  share in the resource  and those that own  the resource.                                                              
He clarified that the American Fisheries  Act divides the resource                                                              
among shore-side  catcher vessels,  offshore factor  trawlers, and                                                              
one  or two  offshore processors  with catcher  vessels.   Vessels                                                              
that have  their pollock resource  can lease it to  other vessels,                                                              
which frees that  vessel to do something else.   He suggested that                                                              
vessels capable  of fishing in  the crab fisheries  would possibly                                                              
move  to the  hair crab  fishery, if  allowed to.   The  residency                                                              
issue has  been an  issue, he  added.   Mr. Winther surmised  that                                                              
Alaskans are a minority in almost every fishery there.                                                                          
MR. WINTHER answered, in response  to Co-Chair Hudson, that he has                                                              
been an Alaskan  for 56 years, of  which 36 years have  been spent                                                              
in the fishery business.  Mr. Winther  informed the committee that                                                              
in the  hair crab fishery  the state  has total management;  it is                                                              
the only such fishery in the Bering  Sea.  He said he did not want                                                              
the federal  government in  this [the  hair crab fishery]  because                                                              
the  management  would  be  out   of  control  until  the  federal                                                              
government gets  a handle on it,  which usually takes  them years.                                                              
Furthermore, the  federal system usually involves  the most recent                                                              
participants; thus  there would a  period of time in  which people                                                              
would enter the fishery and it would  be unmanageable.  Therefore,                                                              
this moratorium  is important in  order for the state  to maintain                                                              
control of the effort.                                                                                                          
MR. WINTHER addressed  earlier comments regarding the  need to see                                                              
what goes  on out  there.   He informed  the committee that  every                                                              
vessel  has to hire  observers, who  get paid  $200-$300 per  day.                                                              
Without the  observers, one cannot fish.   He noted that  there is                                                              
no  way to  monitor the  Bering Sea  fishery  with overflights  or                                                              
boats.   Mr. Winther  pointed out that  the moratoria  created the                                                              
zone around the Pribilof islands,  which is specifically for small                                                              
vessels from  the area (the King  Cove and Sand Point areas).   In                                                              
conclusion, Mr. Winther urged the  committee to keep the moratoria                                                              
and allow for time to try to develop the system.                                                                                
MR. WINTHER,  in response  to Representative  Barnes, agreed  that                                                              
each vessel is required to have an  onboard observer.  In response                                                              
to  Co-Chair Hudson,  he explained  that the  onboard observer  is                                                              
hired through  a contractor,  and the  information is obtained  by                                                              
the management  authority; the vessel  owner pays for  the onboard                                                              
observer, who does not have enforcement authority.                                                                              
Number 2648                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR HUDSON  inquired as to what  would happen if HB  429 were                                                              
MR. WINTHER  reiterated that without HB  429 there would  not be a                                                              
fishery.   If the stocks rose  to historical highs and  there were                                                              
250 boats  looking for something  to do,  it would be  doubtful if                                                              
there would  be a fishery.   He predicted  that it  would probably                                                              
happen so quickly that the quota  would be overshot substantially.                                                              
Mr. Winther informed the committee  that these boats were once not                                                              
interested  in the  hair  crab fishery  because  there were  other                                                              
fisheries such  as the opilio crab  fishery.  Because  the seasons                                                              
have been  condensed, [the operators  of] these boats  are looking                                                              
for something to do.                                                                                                            
Number 2533                                                                                                                     
PAT PLETNIKOFF  testified via teleconference  from Anchorage.   He                                                              
said HB 429 alone is good, and the  moratoria should be continued.                                                              
However, there  is a question  regarding the dates.   Furthermore,                                                              
HB 429  does not include  all the pieces  of legislation  for last                                                              
year with  regard to  vessel size limits,  the CDQ percentage  and                                                              
the 5  mile question.   Mr. Pletnikoff  expressed concern  that HB                                                              
429 only  refers to  the years  1993-1995 in  terms of  qualifying                                                              
[for this fishery].  The other troubling  aspect of HB 429 are the                                                              
rules and regulations  that may be adopted by the  commission.  He                                                              
hoped that some  of these issues can be discussed  and some of the                                                              
aforementioned  missing provisions could  possibly be  included in                                                              
HB 429.  He also expressed the need  to further discuss and review                                                              
the qualification years.                                                                                                        
MR.  [PAT]  PLETNIKOFF  echoed  earlier   comments  regarding  the                                                              
expense  to get  into  this  fishery.   Many  are building  up  to                                                              
[purchasing the  expensive gear].   He acknowledged that  the hair                                                              
crab fishery is  a small fishery in comparison to  others; thus he                                                              
is  concerned with  the health  of  the stock  and whether  enough                                                              
surveys are being performed.  Typically,  the hair crab fishery is                                                              
a near-shore fishery.   He encouraged the hair crab  fishery to be                                                              
established  as  a near-shore  fishery  for  vessels 60  feet  and                                                              
under; local  development is critical,  he noted.   Mr. Pletnikoff                                                              
reiterated the need to include some  of the aforementioned missing                                                              
provisions in HB  429.  He said a moratorium  should be maintained                                                              
because  no more  entrants can  be  supported by  the [hair  crab]                                                              
CO-CHAIR  HUDSON   requested  that  Ms.  McDowell   speak  to  the                                                              
questions and concerns mentioned by Mr. Pat Pletnikoff.                                                                         
MS.  McDOWELL explained  that all  the provisions  with regard  to                                                              
leaving the  near-shore areas open to  access - which were  put in                                                              
the original moratoria  legislation - remain.  This  bill, HB 429,                                                              
merely  takes that  statute and  changes  the ending  date of  the                                                              
moratoria.   Therefore,  all  the  provisions included  under  the                                                              
original moratoria remain unchanged.                                                                                            
MR. [PAT]  PLETNIKOFF indicated that he  is glad to hear  that the                                                              
provisions  with  which  he  expressed  concern,  regarding  local                                                              
effort, are in regulation.                                                                                                      
Number 2297                                                                                                                     
GORDON BLUE testified via teleconference  from Sitka.  He informed                                                              
the committee  that he fishes in  the Bering Sea and is  the owner                                                              
and manager of  two vessels, both of which have  partnerships with                                                              
the  Aleut People  on Saint  Paul  Island.   In fact,  there is  a                                                              
double  partnership with  the local  village  corporation and  the                                                              
community village development corporations  for Saint Paul Island.                                                              
He stressed that he is an advocate  of local participation in this                                                              
[hair crab] fishery and in the other  fisheries in the Bering Sea.                                                              
Mr. Blue  informed the committee that  he has been a  vessel owner                                                              
and  operator  in  the  hair  crab   fishery  since  that  fishery                                                              
MR. BLUE informed  the committee that the [hair  crab] fishery was                                                              
first developed in  the early 1980s after the collapse  of the red                                                              
king crab fishery,  when those fishermen looked  for new fisheries                                                              
to  go into.    The red  king  crab fleet  entered  the hair  crab                                                              
fishery; within  two years there was  no fishery.  It  took almost                                                              
ten  years  to  rebuild  that fishery,  at  which  time  only  two                                                              
[vessels]  returned  to the  fishery.   He  noted  that those  two                                                              
operators,  of which  he was one,  entered the  hair crab  fishery                                                              
because they were operating locally  out of Saint Paul Island.  He                                                              
informed the committee  that of the first 12 vessels  that entered                                                              
the  hair  crab  fishery  after it  reopened,  six  were  Alaskan.                                                              
Ground  can only  be  lost if  this fishery  is  reopened to  open                                                              
access,  Mr.  Blue   emphasized.    He  echoed   earlier  comments                                                              
regarding the collapse  of the opilio stocks, which  has left many                                                              
looking for something to do [another fishery].                                                                                  
Number 2085                                                                                                                     
GEORGE  PLETNIKOFF,  Executive  Director,   United  Aleut  Nation,                                                              
testified via teleconference  from Anchorage.  He  told members he                                                              
would like to see these moratoria  continue; however, he expressed                                                              
concern with  the statement in the  bill that speaks to  the years                                                              
from which people could qualify.   He echoed earlier comments that                                                              
the  Aleut People,  who own  approximately half  of these  vessels                                                              
fishing  in  the Bering  Sea,  have  not  had the  opportunity  to                                                              
develop any of these fisheries.  Mr. Pletnikoff said:                                                                           
     We need to ensure that the CDQ  program that was enacted                                                                   
     ten years  ago, that's  enabling us  to go from  28-foot                                                                   
     boats to 32-foot boats to 42-foot  boats - and now we're                                                                   
     working on  58-foot boats, after  15 years - we  need to                                                                   
     ensure  that  these  vessels   have  an  opportunity  to                                                                   
     participate in all these fisheries.                                                                                        
MR. [GEORGE] PLETNIKOFF  urged the continuation  of the moratoria;                                                              
however,  he  stressed   the  need  to  take   care  when  setting                                                              
qualifying dates.   He pointed out  that if he wanted to  fish for                                                              
hair crab this year, he would not  be able to, even though he is a                                                              
Aleut.   He stressed  the need  to [enter  the hair crab  fishery]                                                              
after the CDQ halibut is over.  Therefore,  he urged the committee                                                              
to  include  some  language  in  HB  429  to  protect  the  future                                                              
investment [of the locals] in the fishery.                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR HUDSON  related his understanding that  the smaller boats                                                              
do not have to  qualify for the near-shore fishery,  and that CFEC                                                              
and ADF&G are trying  to keep the door open for  the smaller boats                                                              
in the near-shore fishery.                                                                                                      
MS. McDOWELL  noted that  HB 538  is the  bill that enacted  these                                                              
moratoria; the  language in  HB 538 would  carry over, and  HB 429                                                              
would merely extend the expiration  date.  She pointed out that in                                                              
HB 538, AS 16.05.835(b) says, "A  vessel engaged in the Bering Sea                                                              
Korean hair  crab fishery within five  miles of the shore  may not                                                              
be longer than 58 feet overall length."                                                                                         
MR.  GEORGE  PLETNIKOFF  commented  that  from  historical  bottom                                                              
dragging around  the Pribilof  plateau, it is  known that  much of                                                              
that  area is  becoming  a desert.    He indicated  the  five-mile                                                              
limit, although  another restriction,  is a  good thing.   Perhaps                                                              
there should be a limit on the vessel sizes versus having a                                                                     
mileage restriction, he concluded.                                                                                              
Number 1739                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COWDERY  made  a motion  to  move  HB 429  out  of                                                              
committee  with individual  recommendations  and the  accompanying                                                              
zero fiscal  note.  There  being no objection,  it was  so ordered                                                              
and HB 429 was moved from the House  Resources Standing Committee.                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects