Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/09/2003 01:24 PM House RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 98-SPORT FISHING SEASONS FOR YOUTH CHAIR FATE announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 98, "An Act relating to sport fishing seasons and areas for persons under 16 years of age." Number 0017 REPRESENTATIVE RALPH SAMUELS, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, characterized HB 98 as a bill that would give authority to the Board of Fisheries (BOF) to open a fishery for people less than 16 years of age only. This is also currently available for people 60 years of age and older. The bill doesn't mandate that this must be done, but provides an option that he surmised would be used mostly in urban areas. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said Campbell Creek flows through his neighborhood and there are a number of king [salmon] in the creek, about 500-600 over the escapement [goal]. However, a fishery hasn't been opened there because it would be open to too many people. This [bill] would allow limitation of the number of fishermen in a particular fishery and would allow for a lot of family activities, such as a father-and-son fishing day, for people in urban areas who probably don't get as much of an opportunity to go fishing as people that live in other areas of the state. Representative Samuels said another example is in Homer: when fish are in the lagoon and snagging is legal, a fishery could be opened up for [a variety] of hours for people to take their children fishing. He added that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and the BOF support HB 98. Number 0277 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if there was any separation between residents and nonresidents. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS replied no. He said the reason 16 became the cutoff age is because persons under 16 are not required to have a fishing license. He offered his understanding that the same [principle applies] to persons over 60 [in the form of receiving] a card from the state, a lifetime license to fish. Number 0407 REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked whether the bill was discriminatory in any way. He said he thought the bill was a good idea but didn't want to see a bill pass through [committee] that might be challenged. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS reiterated that [the practice] is done for people over the age of 60. He said the [purpose] of the bill is to get kids to go fishing rather than go to the mall, for example. He offered his belief that the bill is not discriminatory, and said he'd looked long and hard for opposition to it. Number 0544 REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked if the bill would designate a fishery in areas that would be specifically for children. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS replied yes. He offered Homer as an example of an area, citing limitations that allow snagging of fish during those times of the year. He said a three-hour opening could be held for kids under 16 years of age that allows them to fish without [competing] with adults around the stream bank for a given time period. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS, in response to remarks by Representative Wolf, said the board may adopt regulations establishing restrictive seasons and areas necessary for persons 60 years of age or older for participating in sport, personal use, or subsistence fishing. He said subparagraph (B) would be added to include persons under the age of 16. Number 0713 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK asked how HB 98 would impact the Matanuska- Susitna area, specifically, the Big and Little Susitna River drainages. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS replied that HB 98 doesn't mandate that any particular fishery be opened or closed. It would allow the BOF to follow its normally procedures through ADF&G through the advisory boards to open a particular fishery and provide the BOF with the option to do that. Representative Samuels speculated that HB 98 would be used more frequently in urban areas, but said it doesn't stop persons from other communities that wanted to have this for a given reason; one could go through the normal process that the BOF goes through. He noted that he'd been looking at permits from the last hunting season and had run across a couple of hunts for kids only; this would be similar. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK observed that the fiscal note reflected a zero impact and asked if [HB 98] would result in a larger workload for BOF and ADF&G to implement. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said both BOF and ADF&G support HB 98 and had provided the fiscal notes. He said he assumed it would not [result in a larger workload]. Number 0846 REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if the bill would simply allow persons 16 years of age and under to fish, and whether [the law] currently allowed fishing during special seasons. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS explained that persons under 16 years of age don't need a license to fish; that subparagraph (A) is currently law; and that subparagraph (B) is being added and is the only change being made. Currently, the BOF can have [fisheries specifically] for persons 60 years of age or over, and this would provide the option to have [fisheries specifically for] persons 16 years of age and under. Number 0922 CHAIR FATE asked where this law would apply. He offered his understanding that most areas don't require a fishing license and season [for persons 16 years of age and under], with the probable exception of some urban areas. REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS answered that the bill would allow the [BOF] to [designate fisheries] anywhere [in the state]. He said he didn't imagine the number of fishermen would be limited unless there were a specific reason to do that. Number 0994 GORDY WILLIAMS, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, testified that the bill is permissive. It just adds powers that the BOF could use in a public process to consider proposals brought before them if the department or public requested a certain method and means to enhance the quality of a sport fishery for kids wherein the pressure wouldn't be such that they were [subjected to] "combat fishing," or to bring kids into an area for fishing in a more controlled atmosphere and have special kids' fishing days. The bill doesn't do anything other than give that power to the board, he explained. Number 1092 MR. WILLIAMS, in response to a comment by Representative Gatto, said the BOF is pretty sensitive to how it manages fisheries and accommodates different interests. This would be a proposal brought before and established by the board, and there would be plenty of public testimony on all sides prior to its happening. Number 1141 REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked if there had been any similar proposals or processes for people over the age of 60 and, if so, whether any had been denied. MR. WILLIAMS indicated he was unsure whether that had occurred. He said the board has been approached to do the youth seasons and has routinely had to tell people that it cannot entertain those proposals because it doesn't have the authority. He noted that the BOF had submitted a letter of support for the bill and said he thought it is a tool the board would like to have available to it and the public. He told Representative Guttenberg he could get back to him with the information on senior citizens. Number 1207 REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked why page 2, line 10, paragraph (7), was included if the intention is to allow ADF&G to set up fisheries for kids. MR. WILLIAMS said the statute relates to the powers of the BOF and what it may consider, and is current law; the only addition is the underlying language on page 1, subparagraph (B). CHAIR FATE asked whether anyone else wished to testify. He then closed public testimony. Number 1298 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK moved to report HB 98 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes; she asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, HB 98 was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.