Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/02/2004 03:30 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
             HB  98-SPORT FISHING SEASONS FOR YOUTH                                                                         
CHAIR SCOTT OGAN announced HB 98 to be up for consideration.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RALPH SAMUELS,  sponsor, said  HB 98  would allow                                                               
the Board of Fisheries to open  a fishery for youth [16 years and                                                               
under] only. Presently,  the only way participation  in a fishery                                                               
can  be limited  is  to  designate it  for  "seniors only."  Last                                                               
session,  a  "take   your  son  or  daughter   hunting  day"  was                                                               
established and  this measure is  similar to that. He  noted that                                                               
Campbell Creek  [an urban area  in his Anchorage district]  has a                                                               
very  small run  of  King  salmon that  could  be  used for  this                                                               
purpose. The Alaska Department of  Fish and Game (ADF&G) does not                                                               
want to  open it  up to just  everyone. He had  not heard  of any                                                               
opposition  to this  bill and  stated  that ADF&G,  the Board  of                                                               
Fisheries, and the Alaska Outdoor  Council support it. He pointed                                                               
out that  HB 98  doesn't mandate anything,  but simply  makes the                                                               
proposal available.                                                                                                             
SENATOR  THOMAS   WAGONER  said   he  knows  of   an  aquaculture                                                               
association that had to destroy a  lot of red salmon smolt and he                                                               
suggested in  the future putting  smolts into some  lakes without                                                               
outlets and restricting them to fishing by young people only.                                                                   
SENATOR  KIM ELTON  pointed out  that language  on page  1 limits                                                               
fishing  for youth  to sport  fishing, which  is not  exactly the                                                               
same language  as that  used for  60 and  older, which  says, "to                                                               
participate in  sport, personal use  or subsistence  fishing." He                                                               
asked what the reasoning was behind that.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS explained  that  16  year olds  currently                                                               
don't need  a fishing  license and he  didn't want  to complicate                                                               
the  issue. Furthermore,  he was  just aiming  at a  recreational                                                               
activity rather than filling the freezer.                                                                                       
SENATOR GEORGIANNA  LINCOLN noted that some  small communities in                                                               
her district  would benefit  from this  program even  though they                                                               
are not  considered urban and  clarified that this  measure would                                                               
apply statewide.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  responded that  it is  open to  anyone in                                                               
the  state  who  wants  to  take  a  proposal  to  the  Board  of                                                               
CHAIR OGAN  tried to come  up with a  way someone could  scam the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  helped by saying  the only thing  he came                                                               
up with is  that people might cheat on their  age, but added that                                                               
they might do that now, anyway.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  SEEKINS  relayed  that some  people  have  traditionally                                                               
hunted along a certain Alaskan river  and can't do it now because                                                               
of the  heavy traffic associated  with youth hunters  from places                                                               
as far  away as Kodiak.  He wondered if  a family with  four kids                                                               
could have  any potential conflicts  with traditional  users that                                                               
might "boil over" with designated youth fishing.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS replied that  unlike hunting, which can be                                                               
limited by the number of moose  or caribou in a district, fishing                                                               
could be  limited to a number  of hours. If there  were conflicts                                                               
or  people taking  advantage of  the situation,  the Board  could                                                               
discontinue  the  program.  He  thought  the  advantages  of  the                                                               
program  outweigh   any  possible  downside,   particularly  with                                                               
fishing [as opposed to hunting].                                                                                                
SENATOR  WAGONER noted  that the  term "snagging  fish" does  not                                                               
involve  good sportsmanship  and  emphasized, "The  last thing  I                                                               
want to see is setting up a snagging area..."                                                                                   
MR.  BOB   BENTZ,  Deputy  Director,  Division   of  Sport  Fish,                                                               
Department of  Fish & Game (ADF&G),  supported HB 98 and  said it                                                               
has a zero fiscal note. Kids  under 16 years currently don't have                                                               
to buy  a license  and this  bill would  set up  separate fishing                                                               
times and  areas for kids  only. It does  not allow the  board to                                                               
modify methods  and means  or alter  existing bag  and possession                                                               
limits. He assured  the committee that the  department would stop                                                               
any abuses that could arise by  closing the area and submitting a                                                               
proposal to the Board of Fisheries to repeal that regulation.                                                                   
CHAIR OGAN asked him where he  would recommend the board create a                                                               
special opening or area.                                                                                                        
MR. BENTZ replied  that the department would wait  for the public                                                               
to  come forward  with proposals  to the  board, which  they have                                                               
done almost every year. From  a conservation standpoint, he would                                                               
try to funnel  the times and areas to stocked  waters. He did not                                                               
envision  using   waters  with  wild  stocks,   especially  where                                                               
conservation concerns already exist.                                                                                            
SENATOR ELTON  asked what  time period  the board  would consider                                                               
Interior  fisheries issues  in case  the regulations  need to  be                                                               
MR.  BENTZ explained  that normally  the board  takes up  any one                                                               
area of the  state every three years. However,  an "Agenda Change                                                               
Request" could  be filed by  anyone to  take up a  specific issue                                                               
out of  cycle and biological problems  are high on their  list of                                                               
exceptions. An  area could be  closed with an emergency  order by                                                               
ADF&G, as well.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  ELTON  asked  how  the  department  would  deal  with  a                                                               
proposed  regulation  for an  under-16  youth  King salmon  derby                                                               
because King salmon  are on a quota system and  are allocated, as                                                               
well, between  the sport and  commercial fisheries.  In Southeast                                                               
Alaska, two  out of every three  King salmon that are  caught  on                                                               
sport  gear are  caught by  non-residents. He  also asked  if the                                                               
catch  is  further  divided  by  a  derby  situation,  would  the                                                               
department recommend that is not a good idea.                                                                                   
MR.  BENTZ responded  under that  scenario, the  department would                                                               
come  up with  its  best estimate  of  what participation  levels                                                               
might  occur and  what the  harvest  might be  and present  those                                                               
figures  to the  Board of  Fisheries. The  department would  also                                                               
point  out allocation  impacts that  could occur,  but the  board                                                               
would make the final decision.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  SEEKINS asked  if he  would  suggest an  area for  youth                                                               
fishing in an already heavily used area.                                                                                        
MR. BENTZ  replied no,  but that  would be  a criterion  that the                                                               
board would identify immediately.                                                                                               
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked him which  areas submitted  proposals with                                                               
concerns about crowded fishing conditions.                                                                                      
MR. BENTZ replied Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage [indisc.].                                                                   
CHAIR OGAN closed discussion on HB 98.                                                                                          
SENATOR  WAGONER  moved  to  pass   HB  98  from  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and a zero  fiscal note. There were no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               

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