Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/13/1996 03:50 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                 
 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                 
 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            
 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               
 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                
 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               
 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                
 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.             

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