Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

04/02/2009 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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03:34:04 PM Start
03:34:39 PM Presentation: Alaska Statehood Anniversary Celebration
04:25:55 PM SB137
05:04:14 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission
Presentation
+= SB 137 REPORT ON MEETINGS OF BOARD OF FISHERIES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SB 137-REPORT ON MEETINGS OF BOARD OF FISHERIES                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:25:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced the consideration of SB 137.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR CON BUNDE,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor  of SB 137,                                                               
said  he fishes  but he  doesn't have  a dog  in this  fight. The                                                               
legislation  addresses the  concern that  the Board  of Fisheries                                                               
(BOF) meetings  may not be  on an optimal schedule.  He explained                                                               
that there are  people in the Alaska Department of  Fish and Game                                                               
(ADF&G)   who  take   almost   a  year   to   prepare  data   and                                                               
recommendations  for a  BOF  meeting. Once  the  policies are  in                                                               
place there  might not  be enough time  between meetings  for the                                                               
department to  collect and review  data to prove or  disprove the                                                               
efficacy  of the  policy  before  they need  to  prepare for  new                                                               
proposals. This bill  simply asks the Board of  Fisheries to tell                                                               
the  Legislature  the  time interval  that  should  pass  between                                                               
meetings.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SB 137  further asks the  BOF to recommend  a plan that  does not                                                               
disenfranchise the  public process,  but that  helps ADF&G  to be                                                               
more efficient in addressing repetitive proposals.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:28:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE noted that the  Southeast Seiners recently provided                                                               
a letter of support.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MENARD commented  that  there isn't  a  fiscal note  and                                                               
asked if BOF members get a stipend when they meet.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON clarified  that there  is a  fiscal note  and it  is                                                               
zero.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  explained that  they get per  diem, but  this bill                                                               
would not add costs.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked  if there isn't a cost attached  to a biologist                                                               
looking at the proposal.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:30:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE said yes, but those  costs are built into the ADF&G                                                               
budget.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MENARD said  she just  wanted to  understand the  fiscal                                                               
impact.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  asked who would come  out on the short  side if this                                                               
bill were to pass.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  replied he  really doesn't  know, but  someone who                                                               
wants  their   good  idea   to  be   heard  immediately   may  be                                                               
inconvenienced.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:32:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked if he heard anything from fishers.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE replied  he has  not heard  anything negative.  If                                                               
there is concern he suspects it will be sport related.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS summarized that the  bill does two things. It asks                                                               
for  a recommendation  as  to whether  the  time between  meeting                                                               
dates should  be expanded  from the current  three years,  and it                                                               
asks for a policy to deal with repetitive proposals.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   BUNDE  reiterated   that  the   bill  asks   for  those                                                               
recommendations  and makes  no suggestion  as to  what the  right                                                               
answers might be.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   THOMAS  reviewed   the   zero  fiscal   note  and   the                                                               
approximately $300,000  for the Division of  Commercial Fisheries                                                               
to  attend   each  meeting.   He  asked   how  BOF   members  are                                                               
compensated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:34:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE said they receive  per diem. He surmised that there                                                               
could be  a negative fiscal  impact if the time  between meetings                                                               
were extended.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked why this wasn't addressed years ago.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE replied  he would  have acted  sooner had  it been                                                               
brought to his attention.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:36:26 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM  MARCOTTE, Executive  Director,  Board  of Fisheries,  Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  and Game, Juneau, said he  hopes his comments                                                               
will provide a context for the  bill. He explained that the Board                                                               
of Fisheries is on a three-year  cycle. It meets about 35-40 days                                                               
per  year,   generally  October   through  March,   in  different                                                               
geographic areas.  Meetings can run for  10 or 11 days.  Prior to                                                               
1990 the  board dealt  with every  issue each  year, which  was a                                                               
huge  workload. Switching  to a  three-year  cycle was  a way  to                                                               
balance the  needs of  the public and  the department  in getting                                                               
through  the  workload. Now  they  get  around to  the  different                                                               
sections every  three years, which  generally serves  the process                                                               
quite well.  There are procedures  for the Board of  Fisheries to                                                               
respond  more  quickly  if  needed. There  is  an  agenda  change                                                               
request  policy   and  the  ability   to  respond   to  emergency                                                               
petitions.  The downside  to out-of-cycle  actions  is that  they                                                               
tend to have  less public input. If the three-year  cycle were to                                                               
be lengthened, more out-of-cycle requests would be anticipated.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MARCOTTE  said the packet  contains a  list of where  the BOF                                                               
meetings have been  held and the pattern for the  past six years.                                                               
The meeting  schedule for next year  and a pie chart  showing the                                                               
source of the various proposals  are also included. About half of                                                               
the  proposals come  from the  public. Sometimes  local fish  and                                                               
game advisory  committees, stakeholder groups,  village councils,                                                               
and other  entities submit proposals; and  the department submits                                                               
proposals through the same mechanism.  Neither the department nor                                                               
the Board  of Fisheries  has developed a  formal position  on the                                                               
bill, but  both would like  to review the assumptions  built into                                                               
that three-year cycle and make recommendations.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ADF&G submitted a zero fiscal note  because there is just a small                                                               
workload  to have  a discussion  and develop  recommendations. If                                                               
the  meetings  cycle were  to  change,  he would  submit  another                                                               
fiscal  note.  He  appreciates  that   the  bill  is  asking  for                                                               
background information  before taking an action;  that's always a                                                               
healthy approach.  Finally, he  said this is  just one  aspect of                                                               
the  BOF process.  There are  many  other elements  in having  an                                                               
effective board process.  This is one of several  kinds of things                                                               
that might be on an overall list looking for improvements.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS asked if $296,000  is an annual number because the                                                               
BOF is meeting every year.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:43:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MARCOTTE replied  the information he provided  is intended to                                                               
give the  committee an idea of  costs to the department.  This is                                                               
the cost  for one division  for one  12-day meeting. It's  not an                                                               
annual cost, but it does show  that there is considerable cost to                                                               
the  state coffer  to  prepare  for these  meetings.  It's not  a                                                               
comprehensive cost of  a BOF meeting because  other divisions and                                                               
support costs are involved.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS  said  but  this  is just  part  of  the  expense                                                               
incurred on an annual basis because the BOF meets every year.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MARCOTTE replied  there is  more  than one  meeting a  year.                                                               
Typically there is  just one large meeting every  year, but there                                                               
may also be smaller meetings that add costs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS said  now  he understands  that  the board  meets                                                               
every  year and  the  meeting cycle  repeats  itself every  three                                                               
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MARCOTTE  said  that's  correct.  The  handout  of  all  the                                                               
meetings held in the last six  years shows that the overall cycle                                                               
repeats  every  three  years. The  individual  meetings  vary  in                                                               
length, but they total about 35-40 days per year.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS  noted  that  there   are  between  200  and  500                                                               
proposals  each  year  and  one  meeting  had  258  proposals  on                                                               
finfish.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD  asked if it's fair  to say that he  is neutral on                                                               
the bill, but can be supportive in conversation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MARCOTTE said yes.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON asked  why the  Board  of Fisheries  is hesitant  to                                                               
endorse the legislation if it saves money for the state.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:46:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MARCOTTE  replied there  isn't any  hesitancy to  endorse the                                                               
legislation,  it's the  workload. They  just got  through dealing                                                               
with 390 proposals and that kept  their plate full. They do track                                                               
the legislation.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if they are finished for 2009.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MARCOTTE  explained that they  are finished with  the October                                                               
2008 through  March 2009 meeting  cycle. He added that  the Board                                                               
of  Fisheries does  not oppose  having a  discussion. An  ongoing                                                               
theme is to look at ways to do things better.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS observed  that  the language  in  the bill  talks                                                               
about  a recommendation  to expand  the interval  between meeting                                                               
dates, but  it doesn't  talk about  a recommendation  to compress                                                               
the time frame.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MARCOTTE said  that is the wording of the  bill, but a review                                                               
wouldn't necessarily be limited by  looking at only an expansion.                                                               
It  is looking  at whether  the current  three-year cycle  is the                                                               
best model.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:48:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MENARD said many citizens  want to have a conversation on                                                               
how the Board of Fisheries  operates. The timing is excellent and                                                               
she looks forward to a healthy debate.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  said the  priority to save  money is  admirable, but                                                               
his priority  is the fisher.  He asked if this  legislation would                                                               
in any way  affect the person in  a small skiff who  is trying to                                                               
make a living.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. MARCOTTE  said the bill  wouldn't have an adverse  affect; it                                                               
only requests a discussion. The  Board of Fisheries is very aware                                                               
of being  responsive to  the resource  and the  stakeholders, and                                                               
that it is a potential barrier  if people have to wait five years                                                               
to get their issue heard.  As previously mentioned, there ways to                                                               
deal with issues  on a shorter timeframe. He  agreed with Senator                                                               
Menard that  the process is  the out-of-cycle requests  and added                                                               
that there are pros and cons to that.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:50:41 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY MCCUNE, United  Fishermen of Alaska, stated  support for SB
137. Crab fishers  are concerned about moving away  from a three-                                                               
year  cycle,  but they  are  willing  to have  the  conversation.                                                               
There was  a meeting in  Cordova in  early December and  the next                                                               
meeting, which  won't be in  Cordova, is  in 2011. His  and other                                                               
small  organizations   are  trying   to  figure  out   the  costs                                                               
associated  with attending  the meeting.  They are  a lot  higher                                                               
than  in  the  old  days  when there  were  fewer  proposals  and                                                               
conflicts. This is an appropriate conversation, he said.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked how many shellfish fishers belong to UFA.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCCUNE said there are two  groups that have crab fishers plus                                                               
some  individuals  that are  in  different  groups that  do  crab                                                               
fishing. He got lots of input  from around the state. Some people                                                               
weren't enthusiastic  about changing  the cycle but  realize that                                                               
it's just a conversation.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:53:48 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB  THORSTENSON, Executive  Director,  Southeast Alaska  Seiners                                                               
Association,  said   he  also   represents  the   Alaska  Scallop                                                               
Association and the  Alaska Crab Coalition. Those  groups are not                                                               
excited  about changing  the  cycle, but  support  the bill.  The                                                               
change from  a one to a  three-year cycle was a  vast improvement                                                               
and provided  greater consistency  for the sport,  commercial and                                                               
personal use groups.  The fact that the legislation  makes this a                                                               
conversation is a very good idea.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  THORSTENSON  opined  that  everyone  will  talk  about  cost                                                               
savings in  terms of hotel rooms  and air fares, but  that's just                                                               
part  of the  cost.  The  main cost  in  these  meetings is  that                                                               
between  15   percent  and  25   percent  of   every  researcher,                                                               
biologist,  biometrician,  and  major  manager of  the  state  is                                                               
wrapped up in a three-year  Board of Fisheries cycle. He believes                                                               
that it will  save the state millions of dollars  if the Board of                                                               
Fisheries decides  to lengthen the  cycles. It's not  just travel                                                               
costs;  it's  salaries,   overhead,  healthcare,  insurance,  and                                                               
pension costs  of the  employees that travel  over the  state and                                                               
spend time.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:58:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. THORSTENSON  said the  current process  is winnowing  some of                                                               
the best and brightest people. They  want to devote their time to                                                               
science  and the  resource, not  to giving  reports. He  cited an                                                               
example of a  manager who took a  lower rank job so as  not to go                                                               
through the cycle again. It has become a real problem.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Public  input  is  good  but   repetitive  proposals  are  almost                                                               
ridiculous, he  said. Osama  Bin Laden could  make a  proposal to                                                               
the Board of  Fisheries and it would have to  be taken seriously.                                                               
It's a  wonderful public process,  but it almost  becomes anarchy                                                               
when someone sends  in numerous proposals. He has  had members of                                                               
organizations send in 67 proposals  and there is nothing that can                                                               
be done  to limit  those. It  is part of  the bill  and something                                                               
that needs  review. We support the  BOF and what it  is doing and                                                               
want to enable them to do a better job.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD  said these  scientists know  they're going  to be                                                               
involved in these  cyclical meetings when they're  hired. She has                                                               
a son who fished  in Bristol Bay, a brother in law  who is a fish                                                               
and  game  biologist  in  Nome,  and  friends  on  the  Board  of                                                               
Fisheries  and  she doesn't  buy  into  people being  disgruntled                                                               
about their  jobs because  of the very  good public  process that                                                               
the state has chosen.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:01:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  THORSTENSON   responded  that  some  people   may  have  the                                                               
foresight, as in your family,  to understand that they'll have to                                                               
go through  this process  every three years  and upset  the apple                                                               
cart. Speaking  for himself, he  said that  up until he  took the                                                               
job as executive director of  the association he stayed away from                                                               
Board  of Fisheries  meetings because  they  are so  contentious.                                                               
It's the worst part of the  job. As far as scientists knowing the                                                               
job description,  that's a fair  statement, he said.  However, he                                                               
doesn't  think  a  student  at  UAS  who  decides  not  to  be  a                                                               
communication  major in  favor of  doing  fisheries research  and                                                               
science is  thinking about that until  much later when he  or she                                                               
gets the job with fish and game.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  said fisheries  in Alaska  have changed  from when                                                               
the Board of Fisheries first started,  so it is healthy to review                                                               
current practice. That's all the bill asks.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON held SB 137 in committee.                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB137 AKBOF Meetings.pdf SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB137 CDFU Letter.doc SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB137 Estimated Costs.pdf SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB137 Fiscal Note.pdf SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB137 SEAS Letter.pdf SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB137 Sponsor Statement.pdf SCRA 4/2/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 137