Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/26/1996 03:45 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SRES 2/26/96 SB 128 NONRESIDENT HUNT, SPORT FISH, TRAP FEES SENATOR LEMAN announced SB 128 to be up for consideration. He noted there was a proposed CS. SENATOR DAVE DONLEY, sponsor of SB 128, explained that the CS deletes all reference to the big game tags because it seemed to cause people the most concern. He worked with ADF&G to see if there were alternative methods to addressing the problem of non- residents using sportfish licenses to fish for the entire season and ship the fish out. They had no suggestions other than what is in the bill which is to shorten the length of the license periods. The concept of a seven-day license was added to the bill. SENATOR HALFORD moved to adopt the CS to SSB 128. SENATOR TAYLOR objected for a question. He stated on page 2 there was a 14-day non-resident sportfishing license for $60 and on page 3 there was a king salmon license during that same period for $60 and asked if that was in addition to the sportfishing license. SENATOR DONLEY answered that wasn't a significant modification from the original bill. One of the concerns raised in the last committee meeting was that folks who had been in Alaska for six months and intended to stay would have to buy the 14-day licenses. Under the CS six months of residency lets you buy a license for six months for $100 until you're up to full residency status. They extended that through to the king salmon tag. SENATOR TAYLOR asked how this compares to British Columbia. SENATOR DONLEY answered he didn't know about the fishing. With British Columbia he looked at the game tags issue. SENATOR TAYLOR commented that the fees were pretty stiff for a family coming up to visit for a couple of days. SENATOR DONLEY agreed, but said he didn't really know how to get at that problem. SENATOR TAYLOR said of all the tourist activities in his district the one that puts more money into the community individually are those people who come up and stay at a bed and breakfast for four or five days and go fishing with one of the local charter fellows. This issue is important because we are in direct competition with Canada which allows four king salmon to be caught per day. SENATOR DONLEY said he didn't know how to provide for four king salmon, although he would like to. In the context of this bill, there is a shortening of the license period to try to address the problem of people coming up and buying a year license and fishing all year with it and catching a lot of fish. Second, if someone is coming to Alaska, they are going to want to catch fish. How many fish are available is more important to them than the cost of the license. Number 370 SENATOR HALFORD said that this addresses fees, but he really cares about how many fish are being taken out. He suggested amending the statutes relating to possession so the possession limit is twice the daily bag limit and the fish did not go out of possession by processing and freezing. They do go out of possession when returning to the angler's home of record. That would have more impact than the difference in dollars which is actually pretty small. SENATOR DONLEY agreed with that and wanted the Department to respond. He said he would be willing to incorporate that into the bill. Number 385 SENATOR FRANK said his concern was with our competitiveness with other jurisdictions. SENATOR DONLEY said he was trying to address that concern by deleting the increases in the tags. He would be happy, he said, if it simply limited the period of time for the non-resident hunting licenses. Now, the only option is to buy them for a year. He is open to any suggestions on how to deal with this problem. SENATOR TAYLOR supported Senator Halford's idea of having a possession limit as an effective way of dealing with the Winnebagos that come up here every year and ship out tons of fish. Number 443 GERON BRUCE, ADF&G, said regarding competitiveness with British Columbia, he has a report prepared by the Western Conservation Administration Officers Association which compares various costs of sport fishing in western states. In British Columbia the cost for an annual license is $42 (non-resident) and currently the cost in Alaska is $50. So we are slightly above B.C., but within the ballpark. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if that included a tag limit. MR. BRUCE said he didn't think they have a tag included. There is also a one-day license in B.C. SENATOR TAYLOR noted that because of the currency exchange rate the $120 U.S. for two weeks compared to $42 Canadian annually is more like $35 U.S. He thought the difference was very significant. MR. BRUCE replied that although there was a significant difference in terms of the total cost to come to Alaska, it's probably not a big ticket item. He said that probably king salmon is the species of most concern. In 1994 there were approximately 100,000 king salmon harvested in the State by non-resident anglers and about 20 percent of that were taken by anglers who took six or more king salmon per angler, representing about 5 percent of the total non- resident anglers. SENATOR HALFORD asked where the fishermen were taking more than six king salmon. MR. BRUCE said his table didn't show those concentrations by region. He said he would get that information. SENATOR HALFORD stated that if we actually have non-residents taking more than six king salmon in any area of the State that he knows of, they should be stopped because there are so many residents who can't take king salmon. MR. BRUCE said the Department has some reluctance with stepping into the middle of allocation issues, and prefers to leave that to the Board of Fisheries or to the legislature. From a conservation standpoint an export limit or a field limit doesn't add much to their tool box. He supported Senator Taylor's comments recognizing the importance of the visitor industry to the State's economic needs. SENATOR HALFORD asked him to see if there was a proposal before the Board of Fish allowing them in the current cycle to redefine possession limit. He said he would be much more comfortable with the Board of Fish looking at the solution and he thought it was within their power; but, because their system is so overloaded with issues, it may not be something they would get to for the next two years. In which case the legislature could deal with it now. MR. BRUCE said he would check, but he knew the Board over the past few years had addressed the question of export limits on more than one occasion and they could not get the votes. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Department intended to implement regulations concerning king salmon fishing, especially in southeast Alaska, like the 40-inch limit and one per day. MR. BRUCE replied that in Southeast Alaska the king salmon fishery is regulated according to a quota that is established by the Board of Fisheries under the total quota provided under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The recreational fishery takes about 20 percent of that. The allocation for Southeast Alaska will determine what the State will have to do to maintain their recreational fishery within its share of that quota. The particular year he was referring to was an exceptional year. There was a very high catch rate and very early in the season the recreational fishery was about to bust its quota. Measures were taken to slow down that catch so it could stay within the quota. On most years the 40,000 or so that the recreational fishery has available to it seems to be adequate. If we were to get half of the total allowable catch the recreational fishery would be down to 20,000 fish which they could certainly exceed without some kinds of limitations. Unfortunately, Alaska does not know until the season begins what number we have to work with, he said. Number 530 SENATOR TAYLOR said it seemed strange to him that we could be contemplating charging someone $60 to go fishing for a couple of weeks in Southeast, and another $60 for a tag so they can go out and try to catch a fish with a 40-inch limit. MR. BRUCE clarified that the 40-inch limit is actually a Board of Fisheries regulation. It is the very last option of a number of options under their Southeast Alaska King Salmon Management Plan. CAPTAIN RICHARD GRAHAM, Fish and Wildlife Protection, said he hadn't had a chance to look at the CS closely. He said the Enforcement Division receives no funding through any type of license fee structure, so they really don't have an opinion on that. One concern he had was in creating a special six-month classification for non-resident licensing. He thought it could result in increased residency violations and investigations. He commented that the new definition of residency that Representative Ogan introduced in HB 357 might have an affect on this bill. CAPTAIN GRAHAM said they have had numerous conversations within his Department about the Winnebago/canning problem and they haven't been able to come up with any helpful suggestions, but whatever they come up with will need some kind of recording or tagging requirement. TAPE 96-19, SIDE B Number 580 SENATOR TAYLOR asked him to elaborate on the tagging recommendations. CAPTAIN GRAHAM said that an angler is required to record on the back of his license the number of king salmon they have taken. They have talked about recording on a piece of paper the date and the amount of fish taken and the location. They have talked about a walking tag to be placed on a fish regardless of its state of preservation. He said they have been very successful in enforcing the seasonal bag limits on king salmon by having the recording requirement. SENATOR FRANK asked for the Department's position on game fees going from $300 to $500. WAYNE REGELIN, ADF&G, said they were satisfied with the bill from the wildlife standpoint. They are concerned with the increased game fee because non-resident aliens already pay a significantly higher amount than almost anywhere else and they are adding $200 to that. SENATOR HOFFMAN asked about having $300 for the 30 days. MR. REGELIN replied on the hunting side he didn't think the 30-day license would have any impact at all. Almost any hunter comes up to trophy hunt for two weeks at the most and will rarely come back. SENATOR TAYLOR reiterated that he thought a possession limitation was a good idea. He suggested using metal tags on fish the way they are used on deer. SENATOR DONLEY said he was interested in the tag idea and would like to work with it. SENATOR HOFFMAN said it would be very expensive for a family of four or five to come up here and fish. Number 498 SENATOR HALFORD said they should find out if the Board of Fish would welcome their help because they are so far behind before they go ahead and try to do something. He suggested keeping the bill to work on it.