Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HJR 46 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SJR 29-TRIBAL SEATS ON N. PAC. FISHERIES COUNCIL                                                                    
3:48:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced  the next order of business  to come before                                                               
the committee was SJR 29, a committee bill, with no fiscal note.                                                                
TIM BENINTENDI, staff to Senator Olson, read from the following                                                                 
     SJR 29  would ask Alaska's Congressional  delegation to                                                                    
     open  the Magnuson-Stevens  Act to  amendment, for  the                                                                    
     purpose of expanding the number  of voting seats on the                                                                    
     North Pacific Fisheries Management Council [(NPFMC)].                                                                      
     This  resolution  seeks four  new  voting  seats to  be                                                                    
     filled with  appointees who  are members  of federally-                                                                    
     recognized  tribes  in  Alaska,  and/or  Alaska  Native                                                                    
     Organizations (ANO's). These new  seats would be filled                                                                    
     by  individuals who  are not  employed  by a  community                                                                    
     development  quota program  [(CDQ's)],  or the  pollock                                                                    
     Many  in  the  Alaska Native  fishing  constituency  in                                                                    
     Western   and  Northwestern   Alaska,   and  those   in                                                                    
     supportive  resource  development  groups,  feel  their                                                                    
     voices and  their concerns are  not being heard  on the                                                                    
     NPFMC.   They  feel   four   new   voting  seats   will                                                                    
     accommodate that voice.                                                                                                    
     Troubles   in   the    Arctic   Yukon-Kuskokwim   (AYK)                                                                    
     fisheries,  notably  the loss  of  king  salmon on  the                                                                    
     Lower Yukon  River, and  unresolved by-catch  issues in                                                                    
     the Bering Sea, have  forced this constituency to raise                                                                    
     its profile in  a forum where it is  felt that remedial                                                                    
     action can  be achieved. Four  new voting seats  on the                                                                    
     NPFMC will address their concerns.                                                                                         
     SJR  29  is  supported  by the  Norton  Sound  Economic                                                                    
     Development Council, and Kawarek, Inc.                                                                                     
3:50:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked how many members are on the NPFMC.                                                                         
MR. BENITENDI answered either 11 or 13 members.                                                                                 
SENATOR FRENCH asked how people get appointed to the council.                                                                   
MR. BENITENDI replied that the governor appoints four seats and                                                                 
the commissioner of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)                                                                  
holds a seat.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked who appoints the other seats.                                                                              
MR. BENITENDI replied the Secretary of Commerce does.                                                                           
SENATOR  FRENCH  clarified  that   a  federal  official  and  our                                                               
governor appoint to the council.                                                                                                
MR. BENITENDI replied yes.                                                                                                      
SENATOR MENARD  asked if this  legislation has been  attempted in                                                               
the past out of concern that  not enough Native people are on the                                                               
fishery boards.                                                                                                                 
MR. BENITENDI  replied that he does  not know of an  attempt just                                                               
like SJR  29. He said last  year a committee dealing  with native                                                               
issues was  appointed but the constituency  wants full membership                                                               
on the NPFMC itself.                                                                                                            
SENATOR MENARD clarified  that under SJR 29 the  NPFMC would have                                                               
15  members, four  of  which would  have to  be  from the  Native                                                               
MR. BENITENDI responded yes, that would be the case.                                                                            
SENATOR THOMAS asked if all members of NPFMC are from Alaska.                                                                   
3:53:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BENITENDI  replied no,  some are  federal officials  and some                                                               
are from Washington, Oregon and California.                                                                                     
SENATOR THOMAS  asked about the  wording on page 2,  lines 22-23:                                                               
"be  filled by  appointment  of members  of federally  recognized                                                               
tribes or Alaska Native organizations".  He asked if that wording                                                               
specified only  Alaskan federally recognized tribes  and ANO's or                                                               
if  further membership  from  Washington,  Oregon and  California                                                               
would be allowed.                                                                                                               
MR.  BENITENDI replied  that the  wording  should say  "federally                                                               
recognized tribes in Alaska" because SJR  29 is intended to be an                                                               
Alaska specific resolution.                                                                                                     
SENATOR KOOKESH asked who would appoint the four new members.                                                                   
MR.  BENITENDI replied  that  he  does not  know  but thinks  the                                                               
governor would appoint the four members.                                                                                        
SENATOR  KOOKESH  said  he  thinks   the  federal  Department  of                                                               
Commerce would  make the appointments because  they are federally                                                               
recognized   tribes.   He   asked    if   any   American   Indian                                                               
representatives from the Lower 48 are currently on the NPFMC.                                                                   
MR. BENITENDI replied that he does not know.                                                                                    
3:56:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON said he wanted the  record to reflect a special guest                                                               
in   the   room:   Vic  Fisher,   one   of   the   constitutional                                                               
CHAIR OLSON asked if there is any opposition to SJR 29.                                                                         
MR. BENITENDI  replied that  he has not  heard of  any opposition                                                               
though he suspects it exists.                                                                                                   
CHAIR OLSON asked what the current  members of the NPFMC think of                                                               
SJR 29.                                                                                                                         
MR. BENITENDI said he does not  know but suspects the NPFMC would                                                               
not  want to  raise  the member  number.  Senators Murkowski  and                                                               
Begich discussed SJR  29 with the constituents who  raised it and                                                               
were  concerned that  reopening  the  Magnuson-Stevens Act  would                                                               
invite  opportunities to  make other  changes.  SJR 29  petitions                                                               
Alaska's delegation to change their  minds and open the Magnuson-                                                               
Stevens Act to amendment to the NPFMC.                                                                                          
3:58:09 PM                                                                                                                    
GEORGE  PUTLICOF,  representing Green  Peace  and  a resident  of                                                               
Palmer, said  the NPFMC  has 11 voting  members and  4 non-voting                                                               
members representing  Alaska, Washington and Oregon.  A different                                                               
council represents California under  the Magnuson-Stevens Act. He                                                               
said 3 members  of the 11 voting members of  the council are from                                                               
the fishing industry -  processors, catcher-processors or fishing                                                               
companies. Three  other members are  consultants who do  not list                                                               
their clients  but are likely  fishing consultants.  Therefore, 6                                                               
of the 11 voting members represent commercial fishing interests.                                                                
4:01:59 PM                                                                                                                    
The NPFMC helps set the quotas for halibut and king salmon by-                                                                  
catch in  Gulf of Alaska  and Bering  Sea. Last winter  the NPFMC                                                               
set the  king salmon by-catch  quota for the pollock  industry up                                                               
to 60,000. The pollock industry  had a by-catch several years ago                                                               
of almost 700,000  salmon. These salmon are  usually discarded or                                                               
in some cases given to non-profits or food banks.                                                                               
The  NPFMC has  an  advisory  panel made  up  of 20  individuals.                                                               
Eleven of these individuals are  from a fishing interest. Finding                                                               
anyone  on  the  advisory   panel  who  represents  environmental                                                               
issues, conservation concerns or the  people of Western Alaska is                                                               
difficult.  People from  Western  Alaska are  often allowed  only                                                               
three minutes  to testify on an  issue after waiting for  four or                                                               
six days.                                                                                                                       
4:05:11 PM                                                                                                                    
The NPFMC focuses primarily on the  Gulf of Alaska and the Bering                                                               
Sea and will  potentially focus on Chukchi and the  Arctic Sea in                                                               
the near  future. The people  most impacted by  NPFMC's decisions                                                               
have no  representation. Trying to  provide for  families through                                                               
subsistence hunting and gathering  is becoming more difficult and                                                               
expensive. He  said he himself,  and Green Peace, support  SJR 29                                                               
as a way to resolve the  discrepancy between the industry and the                                                               
people impacted by the decisions that the NPFMC makes.                                                                          
DAVID OTNESS,  representing himself,  Cordova, said he  has lived                                                               
and worked throughout the state  mainly in commercial fishing and                                                               
is now  engaged in the merchant  mariner's trade. He said  he was                                                               
on the  former governor's ADF&G  transition team. Last  year, the                                                               
ADF&G advocated  to increase  the king  salmon by-catch  by 8,000                                                               
over  what was  allowed  by  NPFMC. This  action,  on a  stressed                                                               
fishery,  would  automatically  exclude upriver  native  villages                                                               
from their traditional foods.                                                                                                   
4:09:58 PM                                                                                                                    
The  people from  these villages  are  underrepresented, have  no                                                               
economic  horsepower  and  are   excluded  from  CDQ's.  Economic                                                               
interests are  stacked against  people trying  to carry  on their                                                               
traditional way  of life.  Factory trollers  have taken  over and                                                               
promote their  interest to the  exclusion of the  people upriver.                                                               
SJR 29 gives people from fishing villages a voice.                                                                              
CHAIR  OLSON asked  if  Mr. Otness  is a  member  of a  federally                                                               
recognized tribe or an ANO.                                                                                                     
MR.  OTNESS  replied   no,  he  is  of   Norwegian  descent  from                                                               
CHAIR OLSON asked  if Mr. Otness has ever been  employed by a CDQ                                                               
or the pollock industry.                                                                                                        
MR. OTNESS replied never.                                                                                                       
JULIE   RAYMOND-YAKOUBIAN,   Anthropologist,  Natural   Resources                                                               
Division, Kawerak  Inc., Nome,  said that  Kawerak is  the Alaska                                                               
Native non-profit  for the Bering Strait  region, representing 20                                                               
tribes.  Kawerak  strongly  supports  SJR  29.  The  concerns  of                                                               
regional  residents, tribes  and tribal  organizations must  be a                                                               
part of  the decision-making process  on par with  the commercial                                                               
fishing  industry. Tribally  designated voting  seats, filled  by                                                               
representatives without  ties to CDQ's,  or other sectors  of the                                                               
industrial  fishing  industry,  are   required  for  a  fair  and                                                               
balanced  council.  Representation  on NPFMC  committees  or  the                                                               
advisory  panel  is  not  sufficient;  actual  voting  seats  are                                                               
4:14:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Over the  past two years,  Kawerak has fully participated  in the                                                               
NPFMC  process by  providing written  comments and  testifying at                                                               
the meetings  of the  NPFMC, its  committees and  advisory panel.                                                               
Kawerak has  facilitated the attendance of  other regional tribal                                                               
representatives as well.                                                                                                        
MS. RAYMOND-YAKOUBIAN  suggested one  change to SJR  29: changing                                                               
the  wording  from  "or  the   pollock  industry"  to  "or  other                                                               
industrial commercial  fishing interests", or  something similar,                                                               
on page 1, lines 5-6 and page 2, lines 23-24.                                                                                   
CHAIR  OLSON  asked  Ms.  Raymond-Yakoubian  to  send  a  written                                                               
possible amendment for consideration.                                                                                           
ART  IVANHOFF,  Southern  Norton  Sound Fish  and  Game  Advisory                                                               
Committee (SNSAC) and Native Village  of Unalakleet (NVU) said he                                                               
supported  SJR  29. The  Norton  Sound  salmon stocks  have  been                                                               
depleted since 1998  and the Alaska Board of  Fish identified the                                                               
stock as  a stock of concern.  The same situation applies  to the                                                               
Yukon and Kuskokwim  drainages. In 2007, the  Bering Sea Aleutian                                                               
Island  Talkeet  had a  by-catch  of  130,000 chinook  which  was                                                               
considered a debacle. The accumulative  by-catch between 2003 and                                                               
2007 was about 380,000 chinook  that would have been destined for                                                               
river systems.  In June of  2008, Southern Norton  Sound attended                                                               
and  testified at  a  NPFMC  meeting in  Kodiak;  the absence  of                                                               
tribes at the table was obvious.  He noted that a trolling survey                                                               
will be  conducted in the  Northern Bering Sea. Many,  who depend                                                               
on the salmon, and other resources, are concerned.                                                                              
4:18:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. IVANHOFF said  villages that depend on the  resources need an                                                               
opportunity to  sit at  the table. Southern  Norton Sound  has 18                                                               
organizations  endorsing   this  effort,  including   the  Alaska                                                               
Federation  of  Natives,  the  Alaska  Inter-tribal  Council  and                                                               
Alaska Village Initiatives. Several  CDQ groups have endorsed the                                                               
effort as  well. Tribes  are watching  decisions being  made that                                                               
impact their  way of  life. The  implementation of  the Magnuson-                                                               
Stevens Act  included a fundamental  oversight: tribes  were left                                                               
out of the whole process.  Eight regional councils were developed                                                               
under the act and only one has a tribal representative.                                                                         
SENATOR  THOMAS asked  if representatives  of  the most  affected                                                               
areas had attended the NPFMC meetings to express concerns.                                                                      
MR.  IVANHOFF said  representatives  have  testified on  numerous                                                               
occasions. He reiterated  that they attended the  June 2008 NPFMC                                                               
meeting in Kodiak looking for a reduction in chinook by-catch.                                                                  
SENATOR THOMAS asked if this was to no avail.                                                                                   
MR.  IVANHOFF confirmed  that the  effort  was to  no avail.  The                                                               
states and the industry have  one agenda. People with a different                                                               
agenda,  of conservation  and protection  of  resources, are  not                                                               
4:22:04 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN   GILLES,  Executive   Director,  Bering   Sea  Fisherman's                                                               
Association (BSFA),  said the association serves  128 communities                                                               
from  the Arctic,  Yukon-Kuskokwim and  Bristol Bay  regions. For                                                               
nearly  30  years,  BSFA  has  balanced  the  commercial  fishing                                                               
interest with the  interests of its constituents and  the need to                                                               
sustain fishery resources. BSFA's board  of directors, made up of                                                               
commercial  fisherman from  coastal Alaska,  agrees the  NPFMC is                                                               
weighted toward  the industry. BSFA's board  supports the concept                                                               
of more  seats on the  NPFMC to better represent  Western Alaskan                                                               
issues. The concept of additional  seats started as a response to                                                               
the  April 2009  NPFMC action  on chinook  by-catch which  showed                                                               
that  the  NPFMC  is  ill-suited  and  inadequately  designed  to                                                               
address that  issue and others.  With Alaska holding only  a slim                                                               
majority of  the voting seats of  the NPFMC, the needed  votes on                                                               
issues  of importance  to  Alaska,  particularly subsistence  and                                                               
even  sport fisheries,  are  difficult to  obtain.  The BSFA  has                                                               
talked to Alaska's congressional delegates  and SJR 29 would open                                                               
dialogue further. BSFA supports SJR 29.                                                                                         
4:25:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THOMAS  asked Ms.  Gilles'  opinion  on whether  or  not                                                               
Alaska is the gold standard of sustainability.                                                                                  
MS.  GILLES said  that statement  has  been applied  at both  the                                                               
council level  with federal  management and  at the  state level.                                                               
The  substantial amount  of research  looking at  the health  and                                                               
status of  stocks, especially  in the AYK  regions, would  not be                                                               
needed  if   they  were   managed  properly.   ADF&G's  in-season                                                               
management,   while   noteworthy,   does   not   give   them   an                                                               
understanding of what  is happening with the  stocks. Stocks have                                                               
been suffering  for a long  time and the necessary  attention has                                                               
only begun.  State management is not  at a gold standard.  At the                                                               
federal  level,  the  eco-system  based  management  approach  is                                                               
almost cutting edge  but the application, in  some situations, is                                                               
not carried through due to other interests.                                                                                     
4:29:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON  asked  if  BSFA  members  all  have  limited  entry                                                               
MS. GILLES  said BSFA membership  is based on residency  and some                                                               
have limited entry permits, but not all.                                                                                        
CHAIR OLSON asked if  the CDQ's are in favor of  SJR 29 seeing as                                                               
they  are  dependent  on some  at-sea  processors  and  financial                                                               
MS. GILLES said she does not  know the answer but said CDQ's walk                                                               
a fine line.                                                                                                                    
4:30:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony.                                                                                            
SENATOR FRENCH  said he supports  the idea  and is ready  to move                                                               
SJR 29.                                                                                                                         
SENATOR THOMAS  said he  wants to clarify  who would  appoint the                                                               
new  members and  that the  language on  page 2,  lines 22-24  be                                                               
changed to specify  that the appointments should  be from Alaskan                                                               
federally recognized tribes and/or ANO's.                                                                                       
CHAIR   OLSON  said   he  would   like  Ms.   Raymond-Yakoubian's                                                               
suggestion  as  well   and  would  like  to   bring  a  committee                                                               
substitute for SJR 29 back to committee in the next meeting.                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS also suggested that  information on the make-up of                                                               
the existing  NPFMC be gathered in  order to be passed  on to the                                                               
next committee.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR MENARD  said she thinks  the Magnuson-Stevens  act should                                                               
be looked at for this fundamental oversight and imbalance.                                                                      
CHAIR OLSON held SJR 29 in committee.                                                                                           
4:33:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON, seeing no further business to come before the                                                                      
committee, adjourned the meeting at 4:33 p.m.                                                                                   

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