Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/30/2009 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
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              HJR 21-GROUNDFISH FISHERIES LICENSES                                                                          
4:25:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE announced HJR 21 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
4:26:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of HJR 21, said the resolution  is a message to the North Pacific                                                               
Fisheries  Management Council  (NPFMC). [The  NPFMC oversees  the                                                               
management of federal fisheries  beyond the three-mile limit] and                                                               
it  has a  history of  either  giving away  fishery resources  to                                                               
individual   fishermen  or   restricting   access.  The   halibut                                                               
Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQ) is  one such example. As a result                                                               
of quota  prices, a young  upstart halibut fisherman  today would                                                               
need to invest up to $1 million to enter that fishery.                                                                          
The NPFMC was moving the Gulf  of Alaska [Pacific] cod fishery in                                                               
the same direction  until 2006 when the governor asked  it not to                                                               
rationalize  that  fishery.  To  its credit,  the  NPFMC  changed                                                               
course and  established a limited license  program for groundfish                                                               
in the  Gulf of Alaska.  About 800  permits were issued  based on                                                               
catch  history  from  the  1990s with  the  primary  catch  being                                                               
[Pacific] cod.  Currently about  65 percent  of the  licenses are                                                               
latent and haven't been used for some time.                                                                                     
After  2006 the  NPFMC looked  at catch  histories in  a specific                                                               
range  of  recent  years  for   the  purpose  of  placing  a  cod                                                               
endorsement on the  LLP license. Without this  endorsement an LLP                                                               
license  would  be  functionally   useless.  This  works  to  the                                                               
advantage of  those who  receive an  endorsement and  creates yet                                                               
another barrier for young people to enter the industry.                                                                         
HJR 21 simply  asks the North Pacific  Fishery Management Council                                                               
not to  reduce reasonable access  to this fishery. Don't  place a                                                               
cod endorsement  on these licenses  and make 500 some  latent LLP                                                               
licenses non-usable.  Part of  the goal of  the resolution  is to                                                               
raise awareness on some of the  options that the NPFMC may not be                                                               
looking at.  This includes looking  at how to control  the growth                                                               
in fisheries so the need  to rationalize doesn't arise. There are                                                               
ways  to do  that,  but the  NPFMC is  only  looking at  reducing                                                               
access  so that  just  "X"  number of  boats  will  fish in  that                                                               
4:33:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said that when  he worked for the former                                                               
governor on  fishery issues  it was an  eye-opener to  learn that                                                               
the administration,  through the  commissioner of  the Department                                                               
of  Fish and  Game, and  the five  Board of  Fisheries appointees                                                               
make  policy  calls in  federal  fisheries  that directly  affect                                                               
Alaskans  and put  them  out of  work.  The Crab  Rationalization                                                               
Program  is a  prime example.  Over 1,000  jobs were  lost; about                                                               
half were  lost by  Alaskans and  the other  half were  by people                                                               
from the  West Coast that  came to  Alaska to fish.  Clearly, the                                                               
Alaska Legislature should  be involved in the  policy issues that                                                               
affect Alaskans so greatly.                                                                                                     
4:37:05 PM                                                                                                                    
DON BREMNER,  Central Council  Tlingit &  Haida Indian  Tribes of                                                               
Alaska  (CCTHITA), said  HJR 21  is an  opportunity to  influence                                                               
control over  the Alaska seafood resources.  CCTHITA has actively                                                               
opposed steps  by the North Pacific  Fisheries Management Council                                                               
toward  rationalization, but  has had  limited success.  When the                                                               
Magnuson-Stevens  Act passed  in  1976 it  was  designed for  the                                                               
average  Alaska fisherman.  Rationalization came  as a  result of                                                               
large  open  ocean  fishermen lobbying  their  interests  at  the                                                               
expense of  inshore fisheries and  communities. HJR 21 is  a good                                                               
idea, it helps the little guy.                                                                                                  
4:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SHAWN  DOCHTERMANN   said  he  is  a   second  generation  Kodiak                                                               
commercial  fishermen  who supports  HJR  21.  He is  opposed  to                                                               
eliminating  LLP  licenses  and  implementation  of  Pacific  cod                                                               
endorsements.  The NPFMC  should stick  with the  status quo  for                                                               
Gulf of  Alaska groundfish  management. He  noted that  a council                                                               
member  recently  told  him  the  endorsements  will  go  through                                                               
regardless  and said  he has  a hard  time understanding  why the                                                               
council  doesn't  listen  to the  stakeholders.  Over  17  Native                                                               
villages or organizations support the resolution.                                                                               
MR.  DOCHTERMANN said  the  purpose and  need  statement for  the                                                               
amendments is flawed.  There is no increased  market value, there                                                               
is nothing wrong with competition,  and this will not insure that                                                               
active fisherman will be able  to participate in these fisheries.                                                               
The  Magnuson-Stevens   Act  was  brought  forward   for  habitat                                                               
protection  and sustainability  of resources  yet the  amendments                                                               
don't mention that. It's for  economic allocation, which violates                                                               
a standard in the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996.                                                                            
Removing the latent licenses from  groundfish permit holders will                                                               
leave state  waters as the  dumping ground for new  entrants. Why                                                               
shouldn't  federal  waters have  a  place  for active  new  entry                                                               
fishermen to transition to all  fisheries? Fishing rights need to                                                               
remain with  those who go  out on  boats. Removing the  LLPs from                                                               
fixed  gear fishermen  will take  rights from  active and  future                                                               
fishermen and  give exclusive rights to  an investor-only faction                                                               
that does not fish.                                                                                                             
4:45:03 PM                                                                                                                    
DJ VINBERG said he is a  third generation Kodiak fisherman and he                                                               
opposes  HJR 21.  Morally  he  agrees with  the  concept of  open                                                               
fishing, but  without restriction the  cod fishery is  becoming a                                                               
derby  not unlike  halibut fishing  of the  past. The  cod season                                                               
used to  last 3-4 months  and this year  it lasted just  26 days.                                                               
This year  30 more  boats participated than  two years  ago. Most                                                               
disturbing were  the boats  that came that  have crab  IFQs. They                                                               
are free to  participate in any open fishery at  no risk to their                                                               
already banked crab  money. In an open  fishing environment these                                                               
highly competitive fishermen  will receive a bonus  season at his                                                               
expense.  If   unchecked  the  cod  fishery   will  become  over-                                                               
There  should be  more restrictions  on  access to  the gulf  cod                                                               
fishery including  some qualifying years.  The more than  800 LLP                                                               
licenses in  the gulf do nothing  to protect people like  him who                                                               
live in Kodiak and are committed  to the fishery. His options are                                                               
limited; he  is too small to  fish cod out west  and his business                                                               
is  jeopardized  if his  piece  of  the  "cod pie"  continues  to                                                               
shrink. While  he doesn't favor  further privatizations  or IFQs,                                                               
he  believes  that limiting  the  number  of  permits is  a  good                                                               
starting tool.                                                                                                                  
The Legislature  should be concerned  about Alaska  fisheries and                                                               
knowledgeable about  the situation,  but it should  respect those                                                               
whose  sole responsibility  it is  to  make fisheries  management                                                               
4:48:41 PM                                                                                                                    
ALVIN  BIRCH,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Whitefish  Trawlers                                                               
Association,  said he  submitted  written testimony.  He is  well                                                               
familiar with  fisheries management issues and  his concerns with                                                               
HJR  21 are  numerous. In  particular he  is concerned  about the                                                               
precedent it  sets for the  Legislature to make a  quick decision                                                               
about a fisheries  issue that is going through the  long and very                                                               
public NPFMC  process. The  stated purpose  of the  resolution is                                                               
far  from  accurate and  is  an  example of  why  it  is so  very                                                               
important  to have  a long  decision-making  process for  fishery                                                               
issues. That  way all sides  and opinions can be  weighed against                                                               
scientific data.  Without scientific  data, all fisheries  are at                                                               
risk. The recent NPFMC amendment package  is the result of a long                                                               
public  process, scientific  input, and  months of  deliberation.                                                               
New  entrants are  allowed into  the fisheries  and those  with a                                                               
long history of fishing cod are protected.                                                                                      
4:51:44 PM                                                                                                                    
PETER  ALLEN, representing  himself, said  he is  a fisherman  in                                                               
Kodiak who has been fishing a  small boat for over 25 years. This                                                               
has been  possible because  he's been flexible  to adapt  as fish                                                               
stocks and markets rise and  fall. Small boat fishermen need this                                                               
flexibility. Currently he has an  inactive LP, an inactive salmon                                                               
seine  permit,  an  inactive  herring   gillnet  permit,  and  an                                                               
inactive  crab permit.  All  these permits  make  up his  fishing                                                               
business. If  the federal government  takes away his  cod fishing                                                               
rights and  the state  takes away  other rights  he'll be  out of                                                               
business. This resolution tells the  council what a lot of people                                                               
feel and it's right on, he said.                                                                                                
4:53:43 PM                                                                                                                    
TONY GREGORIO, representing himself,  Chignik Lagoon, said he has                                                               
fished since 1959  and when people talk  about rationalization he                                                               
thinks back  to the time  when Del Monte  owned all the  boats in                                                               
Chignik  and told  the skippers  how many  fish they  could catch                                                               
every day.  "That's where we're going  back to," he said.  In the                                                               
'50s villages  like Squaw  Harbor, Unga,  and Chignik  Lagoon had                                                               
private salteries but when the cod  fishing died out they went to                                                               
somewhere  else.  Now  those  villages   are  gone.  He  applauds                                                               
Representative  Austerman  for  bring  this  to  the  Legislature                                                               
because  "trying  to  deal  with  the  North  Pacific  [Fisheries                                                               
Management Council]  is like trying to  tell your wife not  to go                                                               
shopping anymore."                                                                                                              
4:56:02 PM                                                                                                                    
FREDDIE  CHRISTIANSEN, representing  himself, Anchorage,  said he                                                               
was born  and raised on Kodiak  Island. He has fished  his entire                                                               
life and  believes there  comes a  time when  the state  needs to                                                               
stand up  and say, "Enough  is enough." These  communities aren't                                                               
asking  for  a  handout;  they're asking  that  their  needs  are                                                               
considered when fish  are rationalized, he said. When  he grew up                                                               
his family  and others  fished many  different fisheries  and now                                                               
participation is  very limited.  He noted that  the new  chief of                                                               
NOAH  recently stated  that she  knows that  what Americans  want                                                               
from  the  ocean is  clean  beaches,  safe and  healthy  seafood,                                                               
abundant  wildlife,  and  stable fisheries.  This  means  vibrant                                                               
coastal  communities for  us,  our kids,  and  our grandkids,  he                                                               
said.  He  thanked  Representative  Austerman  for  bringing  the                                                               
resolution forward.                                                                                                             
4:58:30 PM                                                                                                                    
STEPHEN TAUFEN,  Groundswell Fisheries Movement, Kodiak,  said he                                                               
agrees with  earlier testimony that  the purposes and  needs that                                                               
the NPFMC  is basing its  action on are inaccurate.  The argument                                                               
for the cod  endorsement eschews efficiencies and  makes it clear                                                               
that    this   council    "is    nothing    but   hell-bent    on                                                               
privatizations…even   when   things  become   disconnected   from                                                               
reality."  For  a  lot  of  reasons  the  Legislature  should  be                                                               
involved in  the council's action.  Number one is to  ensure that                                                               
their problem  and purpose and  need statements are  accurate and                                                               
sensible before  there is  a regulatory  review. Also,  the state                                                               
needs  to have  a  deputy attorney  general  ensure that  coastal                                                               
communities, small  business people,  and other  stakeholders are                                                               
represented   and   protected.    He   applauded   Representative                                                               
Austerman's efforts.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE closed  public  testimony and  held  HJR 21  in                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SJR 13 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/30/2009 3:30:00 PM
SJR 21 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/30/2009 3:30:00 PM