Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2004 03:36 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   HB 409-SEINE VESSEL LENGTH                                                                               
CHAIR SCOTT OGAN announced HB 409 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
SENATOR THOMAS  WAGONER wanted  to let  the committee  know about                                                               
the concerns of the United  Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA),                                                               
which asked to have its statement read into the record.                                                                         
      The following are some of the issues that UCIDA has                                                                       
     with this legislation:                                                                                                     
        1. The upper size limit - Is this going to be open-                                                                     
          ended? [If] seiners  get larger, 70 -  80 ft., the                                                                    
          hold also gets larger.  The larger the vessel, the                                                                    
          easier they  can fish in rougher  waters. How much                                                                    
          larger and longer are they going to get?                                                                              
        2. The potential for a super seiner to intercept                                                                        
          fish bound  for other  areas increases  with their                                                                    
          size increases. Right now they  can fish the capes                                                                    
          off  of Kodiak  and have  the ability  to fish  in                                                                    
          quite rough water and intercept  a lot of the fish                                                                    
          bound for Cook Inlet and  even into the upper Cook                                                                    
        3. The Board of Fish should take into account all                                                                       
          related  seine regulations  at the  same time  new                                                                    
          seine boat lengths are under consideration.                                                                           
        4. They didn't want to ever see the Board of Fish                                                                       
          start  considering drum  seiners. They  are pretty                                                                    
          efficient when it comes to  not only seining fish,                                                                    
          but seining just about every fish.                                                                                    
        5. They feel it would be necessary to have guideline                                                                    
          harvest limits placed on  these seiners to prevent                                                                    
          interception of salmon bound for other regions.                                                                       
CHAIR OGAN said he shared some  of those same concerns. He didn't                                                               
know how long a seiner could get and alluded to a 200-footer.                                                                   
SENATOR WAGONER said that includes two helicopters.                                                                             
CHAIR  OGAN said  he  heard the  justification  for changing  the                                                               
seine  boat  length   was  that  fishermen  wanted   to  do  more                                                               
processing to  enhance fish quality  and things like  that, which                                                               
he didn't  have a problem  with. But he  did have a  problem with                                                               
super seiners  that would go  out and literally  scoop everything                                                               
SENATOR  BEN STEVENS  noted that  super seiners  operate in  blue                                                               
water,  sometimes  100  miles  offshore.  Finfish  rules  prevent                                                               
harvest of salmon  outside of territorial waters.  The reality of                                                               
a  large vessel  like  that operating  in Alaska  is  not in  the                                                               
realm.  He has  no objection  to  the bill  and said  it is  well                                                               
thought out.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS  added his  concern, which is  that the  Board of                                                               
Fish  process,  while it  is  a  process,  is not  democratic.  A                                                               
petition gets the issue before  the board and only certain people                                                               
can testify before it. The guy  with less resources and less time                                                               
who  is busy  feeding his  family at  the time  can't get  to the                                                               
meeting, wherever it may be and he may be left behind.                                                                          
CHAIR OGAN asked  the sponsor's staff if he would  be amenable to                                                               
putting more parameters on the seiner length.                                                                                   
MR. TIM  BARRY, staff to  Representative Bill Williams,  said the                                                               
Salmon  Task Force  suggested this  measure.  What authority  the                                                               
Board  of Fisheries  should  have has  been  discussed. The  main                                                               
reason this came out is because  it is the only length limit that                                                               
is  statutory. He  didn't  think the  bill's  sponsor would  feel                                                               
comfortable amending  this legislation,  but he would  accept any                                                               
guidance the legislature could give to the board.                                                                               
SENATOR SEEKINS  said he believes  the allocative  process should                                                               
be a  legislative process, not  administrative.   The legislature                                                               
has given  to the Board  of Fisheries  a huge burden  in deciding                                                               
most boat lengths. In that respect,  his concern is that the boat                                                               
length could change at the expense of some other fishery.                                                                       
CHAIR OGAN  said that enough  concern had been expressed  that he                                                               
wanted to hold the bill over.                                                                                                   
SENATOR DYSON said he thought  it was bizarre for any legislative                                                               
body to  be designing  boats. "I have  confidence that  the board                                                               
would do  good work and if  they stray off the  reservation, they                                                               
will make a course correction after a while...."                                                                                
SENATOR BEN  STEVENS said  this is one  of the  first suggestions                                                               
that came  forth from  a certain  sector of  the industry  in the                                                               
first year  of the task force.  It has had a  considerable amount                                                               
of discussion and deliberation.                                                                                                 
     It  was  originally  put  in  place  to  prevent  large                                                                    
     seiners  coming  up from  the  Lower  48 and  going  to                                                                    
     multiple fishery  areas, because the bigger  vessel had                                                                    
     the ability  to travel a  distance around the  state to                                                                    
     fish.... As a result of  this law, [there] was a single                                                                    
     area  registration for  the vessel  so that  the larger                                                                    
     vessel couldn't move from one  part of the state to the                                                                    
     other.  We just  said if  you're going  to fish  in one                                                                    
     area, that's where  you're going to fish  that boat. We                                                                    
     still  have  the  single   area  registration  for  the                                                                    
     vessel.  We did  do a  piece that  said you  can be  an                                                                    
     individual and move  from one fishery to  the next, but                                                                    
     you can't  take your boat...  This law has been  on the                                                                    
     books  since statehood  and it's  never been  modified;                                                                    
     it's never  been changed.  A lot of  us have  a concern                                                                    
     about it.                                                                                                                  

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