Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/13/1996 03:50 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 285 DISCRETE SALMON STOCK MANAGMNT & ASSESSMT SENATOR HALFORD, sponsor, explained that the fish initiative is on the ballot and there are continuous allocation battles that often center in Cook Inlet. It seems like it's been managed based on someone trying to find moral high ground in allocation arguments that are mostly economic between commercial fishing and commercial fishing with a hook and a line and a tourist. He said that over the past decade or so is that some of the minor streams, particularly in the Upper Susitna Drainages, have lost their basic stocks. If you look at the overall escapement even by major drainages, the goals have only been met in only three or four out of the last 10 years. He thought the arguments over allocation have been detrimental to the constitutional obligation to maintain sustained yield. He said he felt that if we are going to harvest mixed stocks, we absolutely have to know where the stocks are going. He thought it was the obligation of those who advocate the harvest of mixed stocks to at some point participate in a real identification that gets us to discrete stock management. If there's any logical solution, any long term goal, it's to meet our constitutional obligation for sustained yield by specific stock, by specific drainage, by every component of the run, etc. We can't do that unless we are willing to spend the money and know where the fish are going. The bill sets out discrete stock management as the long term goal and applies a 15-year phase in by species and by drainage to get from here to there. He said that unless we get to this kind of management, we'll continue to destroy subspecies in some areas and will possibly use court cases on the mandate of sustained yield going into a season shut down fisheries that are unnecessary. Number 340 SENATOR HOFFMAN noted that three years ago they passed legislation directing the Board to develop mixed stock policies. He knew they hadn't done that, but he asked what would be the difference between mixed stocks and discrete stocks. SENATOR HALFORD explained that the legislation they passed three years ago was just putting into statute what their own policy and regulations said and the Board wasn't following it then. He explained he didn't intend this to be an attack on any side of the allocation battle. Number 353 SENATOR HOFFMAN asked if many sports fishermen benefit from this and why does the burden fall on the commercial fisherman. SENATOR HALFORD answered that the majority of the mixed stock users are in the commercial fisheries. He didn't think any of the users would necessarily object to the kind of surcharge it would take to get the kind of management necessary to have truly discrete stock understanding. SENATOR TAYLOR asked how effective this would be if the subsistence management protocols currently being developed by the federal departments of agriculture and interior are implemented this spring. SENATOR HALFORD replied that somewhere along the line they have to use some kind of biological data and information as a weapon in the first battle which is defense of the sustained yield of the resource. Number 373 BOB CLASBY, Director, Commercial Fisheries, said the administration had not developed a position on this bill. It is complex and needs clarification of some terms and issues. On page 1, line 14 he asked if they are to target only those defined as discrete stocks in D (1) or are they being asked to identify every possible sockeye salmon stock that might be found in a mixed stock fishery. SENATOR HALFORD replied that it would be nice to have every segment of every stock and every substock in every drainage, but there is enough work to do with the 24. MR. CLASBY said they want the division to determine the stock composition by river of origin of each existing mixed stock salmon fishery. He assumed the mixed stock salmon fisheries are those that are listed in sections 1 - 3. SENATOR HALFORD asked if he had any further refinements of the lists they have missed on how the stocks actually break up, the committee would like their recommendations on those as well. MR. CLASBY asked if the sponsor wants escapement objectives developed, would he want systems in place to annually measure those? SENATOR HALFORD answered yes. MR. CLASBY noted the second line of subparagraph 18 said the objectives were to be based on spawning and rearing habitat and average production and he recommended instead of limiting themselves, that phrase be deleted and insert something like best available information. SENATOR HALFORD said he would like to leave the language there, but add something that allows the expansion beyond that. Number 459 MR. CLASBY said he assumed the sponsor wants escapements accurately measured. There was also a question in paragraph C, computing the cost. It was the division's assumption that the cost of the projects that are conducted in the area would be born by that area's fisheries. All the stocks that make up the composite would have to be known so the cost would be spread over a number of fisheries. SENATOR HALFORD said that sounded like it was too complicated and he didn't intend it to be that complex. Number 534 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the division is now doing some discrete stock inventory. MR. CLASBY said they are definitely doing that - particularly on sockeyes. SENATOR TAYLOR said he was concerned that a study like this would show that there are non-Alaskan fish in our fisheries. MR. CLASBY agreed. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if it was intended to have Canadians participate in this study. SENATOR HALFORD said there was no intention to manage for the benefit of Canada, but if we're going to win in the argument right now, having information about where they really are going could be used. TAPE 96-28, SIDE B SENATOR TAYLOR said it didn't do any good to study the heck out of an area if it's locked up as a wilderness area. He was concerned that not only would we be able to use the information, but it might be used against us. SENATOR HALFORD said the information could be used for escapement and propagation. He thought if we had enough data we would probably be able to get more timber and more fish, but it's blanket rules because you don't have data that costs us both timber and fish. SENATOR TAYLOR said he hated to see our adversaries saying we're taking too many fish. When they actually look at their own streams, it isn't because Alaskans are taking their fish. The problem is that they have just about destroyed the habitat, damned every river that fish wanted to run up. Now that they've destroyed the runs, they want to come back and say well, you're taking too much of a limited amount of stock that's returning. SENATOR HALFORD said he agreed with most of what Senator Taylor said, but he concluded that that's why we need to do the study. JOE MAKINKO, Kodiak fisherman, said he didn't think anyone had any idea of the cost of this. He thought the questions they were asking were only politically correct and not biologically correct ones. He thought the proposal was physically impossible to do. CHRIS BERNS, Kodiak fisherman, said he agreed that this was a set up and biologically was "goofy stuff." He thought Republicans were supposed to be unburdening an industry from goofy regulations. Number 511 BRUCE SCHACTLER said this has all been said before, but this bill has a different agenda than what is really being said. It's advocating terminal fisheries which can cause real damage to a fishery. He said this is cost prohibitive; it's absolutely absurd. What the Department is doing now is just fantastic. Bob Penny, Cook Inlet Sportfishing Caucus, said he represents sport fishing associations in Kenai, Southcentral, and Mat-Su. They support SB 285 because they didn't see how fishing was going to last into the future without something like it. He thought there would be a shut down of certain species in the Upper Susitna because legislation like this isn't in place. ROBERT HALL, Houston Chamber of Commerce, said they strongly support this bill. He said there is a growing concern about the health of our salmon catch. There are a lot of stories about large and small streams where there used to be salmon runs, but they are now weak or no longer there. He said the mixed stock fishery clearly has the most potential problems since fishing technology has become much more efficient. Number 420 JUDE HINZLER, Bering Sea Fishing Association, said they wanted chum salmon to be included in the waters north of the Kuskokwim River. Existing fishery management areas are often superficial and are not comprehensive because they don't include the Northern Interior spawners as part of the management area. He said the formula for how the study gets paid for bothers them because it is hard to understand. DEAN PADDOCK, Bristol Bay Driftnetters Association, supported SB 285. He said it would supply much needed direction and intent to management of our salmon fisheries. He said he was a salmon biologist before he was a salmon fisherman and he didn't think this would cost as much as Senator Halford thinks and the technology is there. It doesn't need to take 15 years if the staff is committed to it. Number 345 ROBIN SAMUELSEN said he is a past member of the Board of Fisheries and a commercial fisherman all his life and he supported SB 285 conceptually. JOE MCGILL, Bristol Bay Herring Marketing Coop., said he has questions about the bill. He knows that work has to be done not only in the streams, but out on the high seas which he thinks is most important. He said fishermen are already paying taxes for enhancement and he wanted to know how much money this would take and how would the assessment work. Number 330 JAMES EVENSON, commercial fisherman in Cook Inlet, opposed SB 285 because it's unnecessary and misguided. Alaska has the most successful wild salmon management in the world and our runs are basically in good shape. He speaks from the perspective of a Cook Inlet Drifter. In Cook Inlet the rivers are managed for the specific stocks that are in them. A great deal of effort has been put into identifying and protecting the separate stocks. All the stocks seems to be healthy and meeting their escapement goals. He noted that this bill was not motivated by ADF&G or on any biological basis. It's for a reallocation of salmon away from the commercial fisheries. BEN ELLIS, Executive Director, Kenai River Sportfishing Association, supported SB 285. It will give the direction and funding needed to uphold our constitutional mandate to provide for sustained yield of wild salmon. This bill provides the framework where science may be gathered in an organized manner so we can move toward management of genetic diversity of discrete stocks in a timely fashion with a minimum amount of disruption to commercial fisheries. DALE BONDURANT supported SB 285 and said this bill is vital to the integrity of the survival of Alaskan salmon fisheries. He read from a 1988 ADF&G memo that said the commercial fisheries are currently managed only for the sockeye escapement goals with coho and chinook harvest incidental to sockeye. He just sat for 15 days at a Board of Fisheries meeting and he is convinced they will fail to address discrete salmon stock management that is absolutely necessary. DENNIS RANDA, Trout Unlimited, said that the national organization of Trout Unlimited opposes mixed stock fisheries because they result in decline of weak stocks all across the West Coast. In the face of increasing public demand when the Board drafted their mixed stock policy they admitted that the burden of conservation of the resource was disproportionately shared and he agreed with them. He sees an ulterior motive in terms of reallocation. Number 154 MR. RANDA read an article by a biologist named Hilburn that said that few salmon fisheries operate on single stocks. Stock recruitment analysis will usually underestimate the optimum escapement and overestimate the optimum harvest rate when mixed stocks are stated as a single stock. These conclusions will be true for any mixed stock fishery with different productivities of the stocks. They support SB 285. THEO MATTHEWS, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, said the first part of the bill makes the assertion the discrete stock management is necessary to preserve our salmon runs or we will lose them. The second part talks about the need for more information. UCIDA is absolutely opposed to the concept that mixed stock fisheries are going to lead to the loss of our fisheries. They do not agree with the sponsor statement that current management centers around heavy exploitation of mixed stock fisheries and disregards the negative effects of this policy on discrete stocks of all salmon species. He said that sound State management has rebuilt salmon runs from the dismal runs inherited with statehood. Existing data does not support the fact that the world's fisheries are in trouble. MR. MATTHEWS commended Lieutenant Governor Ulmer and ASMI for their educational efforts to promote Alaska's plentiful salmon. Finally, we need to get to the real issue, he said, that recreational advocates will not seriously address. The problem is not with the commercial fisheries; the problem as noted in an article he read is that overfishing, entering new species, and dams have devastated native fish populations. He said there is overfishing in rivers by recreational anglers. Number 75 KARL KIRCHER, President, Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association, opposed SB 285 and agreed with most of the opposition to the bill. He thought this bill represented taxation without understanding. He asked if we were after better data from mixed stock management or are we after weak stock management which could lead us to a spotted owl type situation or some type of abuse in river which makes the stock diminish. Do we put the burden of conservation on the mixed stock fisheries, he asked. The terms, like genetic diversity, are being unevenly applied in mixed stock commercial fisheries. Genetic diversity of fish stocks is being destroyed in river sport fisheries. MEL ERICKSON, Vice President, Kenai River Guides Association, said they have 150 members who are sportfish guides in the Deep Creek Marine Waters and the Kasilof and Kenai Rivers. They support SB 285. He said there is a lot of enhancement going on and they are wiping out the wild runs. SENATOR HALFORD commented that he didn't think there was any moral evil in mixed stock fisheries and he didn't think the bill intended to say that. The question is one of management difficulty because when you harvest commingled stocks, you affect the weaker stock. TAPE 96-29, SIDE A Number 001 His intent is to ensure that wherever we fish stocks that are mixed we can prove and manage where they are going. MELANIE GUNDERSON, President, Peninsula Marketing Association, opposed SB 285 because she was sure this bill targets some of the conflicts going on in Area M. She noted that there are no river systems from her area listed in the bill and they at least have some major red streams. SENATOR TAYLOR commented that allocation seems to be at least a fear - commercial on one side and recreational on the other. If you look at the legislation without that thought, it appears to be an information collection and management tool. He asked if allocation was part of the process and how did it fit in. SENATOR HALFORD answered that it was not his intent to get into the allocation fights. He believes that the propagation, escapement, and maintaining sustained yield is moral high ground. The area he represents in Upper Cook Inlet has not been meeting escapement goals and they have endangered at least some subspecies in drainages to the point that you can't find them anymore. He said that interception questions come up in all fisheries where there are mixed stocks. He said he thought everyone looked at every management structure for its potential advantage and often that applies to the allocative affects. GERALD MCCUNE, United Fishermen of Alaska, said the reason there is a lot of problems with this bill is because it is very allocative. He said he didn't want to see them get into weak stock management. He said he wanted the true picture. He wanted to know how much it would cost. Number 195 SENATOR HALFORD responded that he hoped both commercial and sport interests would keep an open mind because he thought we would eventually have to go to this kind of database for management. SENATOR PEARCE said they would set SB 285 aside for further work.