Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/24/2010 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
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                SB 294-SPORT FISH GUIDE LICENSES                                                                            
3:34:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   WIELECHOWSKI   announced  SB   294   to   be  up   for                                                               
3:35:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE, sponsor  of SB  294, explained  that it  would                                                               
repeal the termination date for  the program they created to have                                                               
licensing of sport  fish operators and sport  fishing guides. The                                                               
original bill passed  in 2004. Since then the  program has proven                                                               
beneficial  to  both the  industry  and  resource managers.  It's                                                               
estimated that over  1.8 million clients were  served taking more                                                               
than 460,000 guided fishing trips  in Alaska annually; 88 percent                                                               
of them were non-residents. Sport  fishing is an integral part of                                                               
Alaska's  economy; in  2007 non-residents  brought  in over  $650                                                               
million.  An average  of  1670 sport  fishing  licenses and  1981                                                               
sport fishing  guide licenses that  include regular  training and                                                               
safety  briefings have  been  issued. The  guides  have said  the                                                               
training is  a real important part  of keeping a standard  in the                                                               
industry. She said in 2009  the termination date was extended for                                                               
one full year and now they  are proposing the permanent repeal of                                                               
the termination date.                                                                                                           
3:37:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE PAWLOWSKI, staff  to Senator McGuire, mentioned  that a copy                                                               
of the  original HB 452 was  in their packets in  case there were                                                               
questions about the original law.                                                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  said Alaskans  pay a  different license  fee for                                                               
commercial fishing  than non-residents do  and he asked  if there                                                               
is any differentiation  between instate and out  of state license                                                               
fees for guides.                                                                                                                
3:38:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLIE  SWANTON,  Director,  Division   of  Sport  Fish,  Alaska                                                               
Department  of Fish  and  Game (ADF&G),  said  resident and  non-                                                               
resident  guides  don't  have  a  difference  in  fees.  A  guide                                                               
business operator/owner  license fee is  a $100 fee and  it's $50                                                               
for a guide.                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if the  department  supported  the                                                               
3:39:38 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER YUHAS,  Legislative Liaison,  Alaska Department  of Fish                                                               
and Game (ADF&G), explained that  this legislation was introduced                                                               
at the  request of the department  and it has been  a pleasure to                                                               
work with the Senate on this  issue over the last two years. This                                                               
is the second time it has  been introduced and it is identical to                                                               
what was introduced  last year. It passed this  committee and the                                                               
full Senate. It  was later amended in the House  to have the one-                                                               
year sunset and the Senate  actually accommodated the concurrence                                                               
vote before adjourning last year.                                                                                               
She  explained  that  the  logbook   program  provides  for  data                                                               
collection  that is  necessary for  information needed  for state                                                               
fisheries management.  The process has recently  been streamlined                                                               
by  the  use  of  new  "scanable" sheets  instead  of  the  large                                                               
cumbersome logbooks that salt-water guides had to write in.                                                                     
MS.  YUHAS said  this program  exempts guides  from the  National                                                               
Salt Water Angler Registry that  is being implemented in the rest                                                               
of  the United  States. She  said that  some of  the guides  have                                                               
testified  that they  would  rather fall  under  that because  it                                                               
costs $25 rather than $100,  but that program doesn't provide any                                                               
of the  data the department  needs to manage its  fisheries. That                                                               
data is the most important part  of the logbook program. What the                                                               
guides receive  for their  $100-fee is not  simply a  sticker for                                                               
their boat, but  the ability to utilize this resource  to earn an                                                               
income. She said  everything is paid for by  program receipts for                                                               
anglers  and through  the guide  fee and  that Mr.  Swanton would                                                               
speak to the zero fiscal note.                                                                                                  
3:41:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS joined the committee.                                                                                           
SENATOR FRENCH asked what the  resistance to extending the sunset                                                               
for more than one year was in the other body.                                                                                   
MS.  YUHAS replied  that she  couldn't  speak to  the logic  that                                                               
Representative Neuman used in requesting that.                                                                                  
3:42:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE MCCRARY,  representing himself,  Anchorage, Alaska,  said SB
294 tries  to do too  many things. He  said this bill  came about                                                               
because  more information  on  the numbers  of  guides and  their                                                               
activities was  needed and  the data  needed to  be comprehensive                                                               
and  credible. Those  goals were  accomplished, but  nothing more                                                               
than minimum standards were established to actually be a guide.                                                                 
From his point of view  outfitting, charter boats, air taxis, and                                                               
water taxis  are businesses, but  guiding is an  occupation. This                                                               
bill  should not  be put  into place  forever because  the actual                                                               
occupational  licensing of  all  classes of  guides  needs to  be                                                               
separated from the business aspects  - reducing speculative entry                                                               
of  businesses  into  the  commerce   stream  and  enhancing  the                                                               
profession  of   guiding.  There   should  be   one  occupational                                                               
licensing board  for guides like  hairdressers and  barbers have.                                                               
He said  this bill tries to  do too many things  and extending it                                                               
without termination is premature.                                                                                               
3:45:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MELVIN GROVE, charter  owner, Valdez, Alaska, said  he opposed SB
294.  His  biggest   concern  is  that  they   are  being  taxed,                                                               
basically, to  pay for  the logbook program.  And even  though he                                                               
believes  in data  collection, they  hadn't  seen any  harvesting                                                               
improvements as a result of it.  They had seen reduced bag limits                                                               
He  said contrary  to what  Ms. Yuhas  said, registering  for the                                                               
National Salt Water  Angler Registry is free  according to Forbes                                                               
Darby.    And  anyone  using  their  service  in  federal  waters                                                               
wouldn't have  to register,  because data  would be  collected in                                                               
state waters.  This data should be  shared with the feds,  but we                                                               
shouldn't use that  to justify collecting a $100 fee.  He said he                                                               
couldn't even  keep a fish  while fishing with clients  any more.                                                               
If they pass SB  294, he urged them to please  keep the sunset in                                                               
3:49:48 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN LARSON, Secretary, Prince  William Sound Charter Association,                                                               
North Pole,  Alaska, opposed SB  294. They  do not object  to the                                                               
data collection,  but between  the sport  license fees  that both                                                               
instate  and  out-of-state residents  pay  and  guide fees,  they                                                               
aren't  getting much  for their  money.  ADF&G needs  to look  at                                                               
other funding sources, anyway. He  said he saw no funding support                                                               
from NOAA for the logbook data that they use.                                                                                   
MR. LARSON said  sport fish license fee funding  has been reduced                                                               
because  of  the  economy and  other  influences.  For  instance,                                                               
revenues  are down  because  of the  one-fish  limit on  halibut,                                                               
revenues from license  sales and King salmon stamps  were down 12                                                               
percent in  2009 and 5 percent  in 2008, and it's  probably going                                                               
to  go down  in  2010;  in 2011  the  Limited  Entry Program  for                                                               
halibut charters is going to  eliminate 38 percent of the halibut                                                               
charter fleet in Alaska. Scanning logbook  data is a good idea as                                                               
many  data  entry  errors  have been  found  during  the  ongoing                                                               
Limited Entry  Program process. But those  cost reductions should                                                               
mean position reductions  in ADF&G if nothing else.  At any rate,                                                               
he said,  the funding needs to  be looked at and  that's why they                                                               
asked for the  sunset to occur last year and  that's why they are                                                               
asking for it again this year.                                                                                                  
3:52:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REED  MORISKY,  Wilderness   Fishing,  Inc.,  Fairbanks,  Alaska,                                                               
supported SB 294. He said this  will be his 26th summer operating                                                               
in Fairbanks. He  believes the logbook information  is needed for                                                               
documenting consistent use  and access to the  resource. This act                                                               
would   ensure   clients   that  minimum   standards   are   met.                                                               
Improvements  have been  made to  the logbook  program, as  well,                                                               
that allow the guide-supplied information to be scanned.                                                                        
3:54:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SMOKEY DON  DUNCAN, Master Guide  136, Fairbanks,  Alaska, didn't                                                               
support  SB  294  as  written.  He  wanted  to  see  the  program                                                               
sunsetted  if  the  following amendments  were  not  adopted:  an                                                               
exemption from  the licensing fee  for fish guide  businesses and                                                               
sport  fish guides  who  do  not operate  from  a  city, a  town,                                                               
village or permanent lodge, and  an exemption from fees for camp-                                                               
based or float-trip based guides  and from multiple daily logbook                                                               
recordings for  camp-based and  float-trip based  guides. Further                                                               
he  said the  regulations should  be  changed to  filling in  the                                                               
logbook  within 24  hours and  he wanted  ADF&G to  provide water                                                               
proof containers  for the  logbook if  requested. He  also wanted                                                               
the Coast  Guard requirement deleted,  because they  are entirely                                                               
absent from areas north of the Alaska Range.                                                                                    
MR. DUNCAN said this program has  done nothing but cost him time,                                                               
money and headaches. He recruits all  of his clients with no help                                                               
from the  state, he pays  land use fees,  client day fees  and he                                                               
and his  clients buy  fishing licenses. He  said "the  state does                                                               
virtually  nothing to  help promote  or support  the hunting  and                                                               
sport  fishing guide  industries."  He said  further that  guides                                                               
already pay  enough for a business  license, so why do  they have                                                               
to buy two licenses?                                                                                                            
3:57:03 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN   BLAIR,  Executive   Director,   Southeast  Alaska   Guides                                                               
Association, Sitka, said  he supported SB 294  for three reasons.                                                               
First,  because it  is  a  clear-cut example  of  a program  that                                                               
actually  works and  does something  right. Since  its inception,                                                               
the  logbook  program  has  successfully  provided  accurate  and                                                               
timely information for  use by the Board of  Fisheries and ADF&G.                                                               
Second, the log book program  has become the only effective means                                                               
of collecting data on the  sport fishing industry in an objective                                                               
and unbiased  manner. Having  independent and  non-industry based                                                               
collection   and   enforcement   insures   credibility   of   the                                                               
information, so the information  is dependable. Third, these data                                                               
are essential  to ensure conservation  and sustainability  of our                                                               
fisheries. Without the logbook program  there would be no quality                                                               
data  and  science  that  have become  the  foundation  of  sound                                                               
fisheries   management.  Alaskans   pride  themselves   on  their                                                               
fisheries management based on facts and science.                                                                                
3:58:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WAGONER asked  how  many  members are  in  his group  in                                                               
Southeastern Alaska.                                                                                                            
MR. BLAIR answered that it  represents over 100 vessels and lodge                                                               
owners throughout the region.                                                                                                   
3:58:55 PM                                                                                                                    
WADE WILLIS,  Anchorage, Alaska, said he  used to be a  guide and                                                               
he  was  concerned  about  the   sustainability  of  the  state's                                                               
fisheries.  The state  needs to  look further  down the  road and                                                               
develop  an  occupational  licensing   board  that  licenses  all                                                               
occupations  that can  insure  that the  quality  of the  guiding                                                               
industry is  as good  as it  can be.  He supported  extending the                                                               
program for two more years.                                                                                                     
4:01:22 PM                                                                                                                    
RICKY   GEESE,   Executive    Director,   Kenai   Sport   Fishing                                                               
Association, supported  SB 294.  He said the  data has  become an                                                               
extremely useful  tool for the  department to use  for management                                                               
of the resources. He concurred  with the need for an occupational                                                               
board to set minimum standards.                                                                                                 
4:02:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REUBEN HANKIE, owner and operator  of a small Kenai River fishing                                                               
business,  supported SB  294. He  pointed out  that hunters  need                                                               
licenses in the  field. Collecting the data had  some problems at                                                               
first, but those  are getting ironed out. He said  that he didn't                                                               
have any  problem filling out his  logbook in the rain,  and data                                                               
collection is of utmost importance to the fishing industry.                                                                     
4:04:21 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE   GOGGIA,   President,   Kenai  River   Professional   Guide                                                               
Association, said he is an owner  of a small guide service on the                                                               
Kenai River, and  supported SB 294. He said he  tries to keep his                                                               
logbook as dry as possible and  that seems to work for him. Board                                                               
of  Fisheries members  want accurate  data,  and to  him that  is                                                               
important to making  any kind of decisions  that affect everybody                                                               
in the state.                                                                                                                   
4:05:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YUHAS stated  that the  department  is very  happy with  the                                                               
version before them.  Should the legislature decided  to audit or                                                               
repeal this program at any point  in the future, they can do that                                                               
without a sunset.                                                                                                               
MR. SWANTON  said the  logbook started  out being  11.5X17 inches                                                               
and those have  been reduced to a standard 8.5X11  inches that is                                                               
scanable. Access to that data will  be reduced from eight to nine                                                               
months down  to one to  two weeks. These  were some of  the major                                                               
criticisms  they  had in  the  past  from  the public.  They  are                                                               
planning  to do  the  same  thing with  the  fresh water  logbook                                                               
program  starting this  fall; that  program will  be scanable  in                                                               
2011. He said  this data collection program has  been reviewed by                                                               
national experts  who found  that Alaska  sets the  standards for                                                               
quality and statistical precision.                                                                                              
4:08:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  closed  public   testimony.  He  said  he                                                               
intended to  hold the bill  and asked for amendments  by tomorrow                                                               
at noon.                                                                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 275 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/24/2010 3:30:00 PM
SB 275
SB 143 - S Version.pdf SRES 3/24/2010 3:30:00 PM
SB 143