Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

04/14/2016 03:30 PM RESOURCES

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 42 PERSONAL USE FISHING PRIORITY TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 42 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 216 NAVIGABLE WATER; INTERFERENCE, DEFINITION TELECONFERENCED
Moved SCS CSHB 216(RES) Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              SB  42-PERSONAL USE FISHING PRIORITY                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:36:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL announced consideration of SB 42.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE, sponsor of SB  42, explained that this is called                                                               
the "Alaskans  First Fisheries  Act" in  times of  shortages when                                                               
allocation decisions are made to  meet management goals. Priority                                                               
fisheries  are those  that are  Alaskan resident-only  fisheries:                                                               
subsistence and personal  use (PU). He said the  department has a                                                               
neutral  position  on  it,  but  during  his  confirmation  ADF&G                                                               
Commissioner  Cotten got  himself  into trouble  with the  United                                                               
Fishermen of  Alaska (UFA)  and all  the other  constituencies by                                                               
acknowledging  that looking  at "Alaskans  First" was  not a  bad                                                               
idea. Senator Stoltze said he  appreciated his candor and that he                                                               
had "to take a little bit of a beating" on it.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE  said he is  talking about a small  percentage of                                                               
the  fisheries that  are allocated.  During  presentation of  the                                                               
bill  in  the  State  Affairs  Committee on  April  1,  2015,  an                                                               
industry  individual  testified  that Alaska  has  an  allocation                                                               
system: "The  commercial fishing industry  catches it and  we can                                                               
buy it." While  that ideology might work well in  some regions of                                                               
the  state, it  would cause  rebellion if  it became  more of  an                                                               
official state policy than it already is.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE  said there are  about 80 personal  use fisheries                                                               
of different  species and shellfish,  but the ones that  are most                                                               
popular are  on three major  rivers: the Kasilof, the  Kenai, and                                                               
the  Copper  River that  has  the  Chitina Dipnet  Fishery  where                                                               
almost  50,000 Alaskan  households fish.  And that  cuts out  the                                                               
"middle man."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:40:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STOLTZE said Alaska residents  should be able to get fish                                                               
for  their  families  and  that   subsistence  and  personal  use                                                               
fisheries are  the only two  fisheries that are  Alaska resident-                                                               
only fisheries.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL  asked if all  other fisheries would  be restricted                                                               
before the PU fishery is restricted.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE said that is  correct. That includes sportfishing                                                               
and commercial fishing.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:42:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WES HUMBYRD, representing himself,  Homer, Alaska, opposed SB 42.                                                               
He said  he had been a  commercial fisherman in Cook  Inlet since                                                               
1966 and an Alaska resident  since 1971. The commercial fisheries                                                               
in Cook Inlet  have been drastically curtailed  by the allocation                                                               
corridor  that the  Board  of  Fisheries put  up  two years  ago.                                                               
"There's plenty of fish around for  all these people that want to                                                               
go get them."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
He said  all politicians  swear to  uphold the  constitution, but                                                               
most of  them must  not read  it, because  he sees  violations of                                                               
Article 8,  Section 15, that  says no exclusive right  or special                                                               
privilege  of a  fishery shall  be created  or authorized  in the                                                               
natural waters in the state.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:45:19 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  MCCOMBS, representing  himself, Ninilchik,  Alaska, opposed                                                               
SB 42. He  said he had been a commercial  fisherman in Cook Inlet                                                               
for 40 years.  The PU fishery began in the  1980s when there were                                                               
large  surpluses of  fish. These  fish were  already 100  percent                                                               
allocated and  there was a  commercial priority at that  time for                                                               
sockeyes.  He said  the  PU  fishery is  unlimited  now and  over                                                               
600,000 sockeyes were harvested in 2015.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The PU  fishery is  expensive and  "rhetoric about  cheap protein                                                               
couldn't be  more false,"  Mr. McCombs said.  Because SB  42 pits                                                               
Alaskans  against  Alaskans  and recreational  fishermen  against                                                               
commercial  fishermen  and   advances  existing  antagonisms,  he                                                               
couldn't support it.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:46:28 PM                                                                                                                    
ED  MARTIN, representing  himself and  his wife,  Cooper Landing,                                                               
Alaska,  supported SB  42.  He  said he  feels  sympathy for  the                                                               
commercial  fishermen. One  of  the  first jobs  he  had in  high                                                               
school was  fishing across the  Inlet for the Bunker  family, and                                                               
he learned a valuable lesson there:  that Cook Inlet had a lot of                                                               
fish. In those days, it was quite different from today.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He believes  that there is no  reason for Alaskans to  be pitting                                                               
themselves  against each  other for  this  resource. If  it is  a                                                               
common use,  then the most important  part is to be  certain that                                                               
everyone  has  access to  the  fish  and  they shouldn't  need  a                                                               
license to  do it.  Commercial fishermen get  a privilege  in the                                                               
form  of a  license  or a  permit. He  thought  this issue  would                                                               
always be contentious.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:49:20 PM                                                                                                                    
AL  BARRETTE, representing  himself  and  his family,  Fairbanks,                                                               
Alaska,  supported  SB  42.  The  intent of  the  bill  is  about                                                               
prioritizing the resource in times  of shortage: subsistence gets                                                               
priority  and  then next  in  line  should  be  the PU  and  then                                                               
commercial and  sport. His family  will depend on the  Chitina PU                                                               
fishery  to help  them make  it through  these financially  rough                                                               
times.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:51:22 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  MARTIN, President,  United Cook  Inlet Drift  Association,                                                               
Homer, Alaska,  opposed SB  42. People should  be able  to either                                                               
catch  or buy  their fish,  he said.  Further this  bill violates                                                               
Article 8, Sections  1, 3, 4, and 15 of  the Alaska Constitution.                                                               
The dipnet fishery is one  of the most unorganized and unenforced                                                               
fisheries in  the state,  but there is  plenty of  opportunity to                                                               
get fish  as indicated by  South Central's catch of  over 650,000                                                               
salmon last  year. Every fishery  needs to  be a good  steward of                                                               
the resource  and share in the  harvest of the surplus,  but also                                                               
share  in  the conservation  of  it  when needed.  Probably  more                                                               
Alaskans buy  their salmon than  fish for  it, so there  is ample                                                               
opportunity  for everybody  to  have fish,  and that  opportunity                                                               
needs to be shared on an equal basis.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:53:51 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVEN  VANEK, representing  himself, Ninilchik,  Alaska, opposed                                                               
SB  42. He  said he  is a  retired commercial  fisherman and  had                                                               
lived  in Alaska  since 1964.  It  costs a  lot to  travel to  go                                                               
dipnet  fishing, so  don't  be  telling him  that  it's for  poor                                                               
people to feed themselves. Fishing  is the number one industry in                                                               
Alaska and this  bill opposes the commercial  industry that built                                                               
Alaska. "It's  a slap in the  face to the processors  who provide                                                               
thousands of jobs in Alaska. It's foolishness."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANEK said friends  have told him that a lot  of the fish are                                                               
given away to friends and relatives  who visit; they are not used                                                               
for  personal use.  The dipnet  fishery gets  used for  Christmas                                                               
gifts!                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:56:23 PM                                                                                                                    
ROD  ARNO,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor  Council  (AOC),                                                               
Palmer,  Alaska, supported  SB 42.  He  said the  PU fishery  was                                                               
codified in  1978, and  at a  time the state  was trying  to stop                                                               
takeover of federal  management by agreeing to  a rural priority.                                                               
Individuals  who lived  in Fairbanks,  the Valley,  and Anchorage                                                               
were  excluded  from  the  Chitina  fishery,  and  the  Board  of                                                               
Fisheries  had to  come  up with  a way  of  providing them  with                                                               
personal use  on an  equal footing  with subsistence.  Since that                                                               
time, a  number of PU fisheries  have grown across the  state and                                                               
the AOC believes that  conservation continues because individuals                                                               
who  gather  a wild  food  source  from  a public  resource  have                                                               
interest  in its  preservation.  He thanked  Senator Stoltze  for                                                               
this bill.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CRISTY FRY,  representing herself, Homer, Alaska,  opposed SB 42.                                                               
This  bill is  blatantly  political, she  said,  and inserts  the                                                               
legislature  into fisheries  management, which  should be  solely                                                               
the  purview of  the Alaska  Board  of Fisheries  and the  Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Fish and  Game  (ADF&G).  Considering the  bill's                                                               
sponsor, it is obviously aimed  at prioritizing dipnetters in the                                                               
Kenai and Kasilof Rivers over commercial fishermen.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:00:12 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIK HEUBSCH,  representing himself, Kasilof, Alaska,  opposed SB
42. He  said he  participates in  sport, commercial  and personal                                                               
use  fisheries.  All  Alaskans   have  an  opportunity  to  share                                                               
Alaska's bountiful fishery  resource, and at times  when they are                                                               
not  as bountiful,  all  Alaskans  must share  in  the burden  of                                                               
conservation.  He  stated,  "Senate   Bill  42  is  divisive  and                                                               
reckless." It would  upset the balance among user  groups that is                                                               
the result  of an actual  process of decision-making.  The bill's                                                               
language  is  so vague  that  if  it  is passed,  the  unintended                                                               
consequences could threaten every fishery across the state.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
For instance,  the bill states: "When  the harvest of a  stock or                                                               
species is  limited to  achieve a management  goal, the  Board of                                                               
Fisheries shall place restrictions  on all other fisheries before                                                               
restricting  personal use  fisheries." He  asked what  "all other                                                               
fisheries" means and who that  would affect. Are the restrictions                                                               
limited to  only that particular  stock and how would  that apply                                                               
in mixed-stock  fisheries like Cook  Inlet and most  areas across                                                               
the state  have? The  bill also uses  the term  "management goal"                                                               
and  then offers  a  constrained definition  for  that term.  How                                                               
would that affect existing management plans?                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HEUBSCH  concluded that  SB  42  creates many  problems  and                                                               
solves none.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:02:06 PM                                                                                                                    
GEORGE PIERCE,  representing himself, Kasilof,  Alaska, supported                                                               
SB 42.  This bill is not  unconstitutional, he said. In  fact, in                                                               
the mid-90s  this situation went to  court and it was  ruled that                                                               
the personal use  and subsistence fisheries were  the same thing.                                                               
These  fish belong  to him;  they're  not commercial  fishermen's                                                               
fish  and not  sportfishing  fish.  There is  enough  fish to  go                                                               
around.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STOLTZE thanked  him for  his consistent  involvement in                                                               
the public process.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:04:48 PM                                                                                                                    
DAN  ANDERSON, representing  himself, Homer,  Alaska, opposed  SB
42. Having  personally witnessed  the degradation of  the habitat                                                               
and the  chaos in the mouth  of the Kasilof and  Kenai Rivers and                                                               
watching the  communities around them  deal with all  the carnage                                                               
from  this type  of  activity  he didn't  know  how anyone  could                                                               
encourage  this behavior.  This is  not the  Alaska he  moved his                                                               
family here  to experience.   "If you  don't put the  fish first,                                                               
what have we  got? And if you degrade the  habitat the fish won't                                                               
return."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:06:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CATHERINE  CASSIDAY,   representing  herself,   Kasilof,  Alaska,                                                               
opposed SB 42.  She supported Cristy Fry's  comments and wouldn't                                                               
repeat them. Senator  Stoltze said this is a simple  bill, but it                                                               
isn't. The  unintended consequences  for messing  with the  80 PU                                                               
fisheries  around  the  state are  clearly  beyond  the  author's                                                               
knowledge  or  understanding.  This is  why  fishing  regulations                                                               
should not  be set  by the legislature  or by  ballot initiative.                                                               
"Let the ADF&G and Board of Fisheries manage our fisheries."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:08:17 PM                                                                                                                    
ROSS MULLINS,  representing himself, Cordova, Alaska,  opposed SB
42. He  had been a  commercial fisherman in Prince  William Sound                                                               
since 1963. He is currently retired  and living in poverty due to                                                               
the Exxon  Valdez oil  spill. He  stated that  the intent  of the                                                               
personal use  fishery is a noble  one, but it needs  to be highly                                                               
regulated, because these fish, at  least in the Copper River, are                                                               
several  hundred  miles  above   the  commercial  fisheries.  The                                                               
commercial fishermen are  restricted in the early  weeks in order                                                               
to  ensure that  a  sufficient  amount of  fish  get through  the                                                               
fishery to provide adequate fish for the dipnetters in Chitina.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He  was  on   the  board  of  the  Prince   William  Sound  (PWS)                                                               
Aquaculture  Corporation  in its  early  days  when the  idea  of                                                               
salmon enhancement  was promoted  through the  hatchery programs,                                                               
which  have   become  a  fairly   sustaining  component   of  PWS                                                               
fisheries. PWS commercial  fishermen fund a large  portion of the                                                               
subsistence and dipnet fishery production  by funding the Gulkana                                                               
Hatchery  that produces  red salmon.  They  did not  want to  see                                                               
their own  efforts restricted  due to  the personal  use upstream                                                               
fisheries.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He explained  that the PU  fisheries take fish that  come through                                                               
after the commercial fishermen have  had their opportunity. It is                                                               
highly regulated to get enough  escapement into the high upstream                                                               
lakes  and streams  that  produce the  offspring  that return  in                                                               
later years.  By giving the PU  fishery priority there is  no way                                                               
the ADF&G  could manage  these fisheries  in an  effective manner                                                               
and  that will  penalize  sport and  commercial  fishermen to  an                                                               
inordinate  degree. Without  the ability  to maintain  sufficient                                                               
escapement, the fisheries will ultimately be destroyed.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:13:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL,  finding  no   further  comments,  closed  public                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN moved Amendment 1.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                          AMENDMENT 1                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     OFFERED IN THE SENATE                                                                                                      
     TO: SB 42                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 1:                                                                                                            
     Delete   "to  personal   use  fisheries   when  fishing                                                                  
     restrictions are"                                                                                                        
     Insert "for the imposition of fishing restrictions"                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, lines 5 - 6:                                                                                                       
     Delete  "Except as  provided  for  subsistence uses  of                                                                  
     fish  stocks in  AS 16.05.258,  when the  harvest of  a                                                                  
     stock  or species  is limited  to achieve  a management                                                                  
     goal, the  Board of Fisheries shall  place restrictions                                                                  
     on all other fisheries"                                                                                                  
     Insert  "When the  harvest  of a  stock  or species  is                                                                  
     limited  to achieve  a management  goal,  the Board  of                                                                  
     Fisheries  may  not  place restrictions  on  commercial                                                                  
     fisheries"                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN explained  that this amendment makes  a bill that                                                               
had  a  pretty good  intention  better.  This language  puts  the                                                               
prioritization  of use  to commercial  fisheries. He  pointed out                                                               
that  the fishing  industry will  exceed the  gross value  of the                                                               
state's oil industry  by $1 billion this year (oil  is $7 billion                                                               
and fishing  is $8 billion).  Coming into 2017  it is by  far the                                                               
biggest employer  in the  state and is  active throughout  all of                                                               
coastal Alaska,  hugely active  in Anchorage  based on  number of                                                               
permits.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:15:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL  reread the  new  language  and then  removed  her                                                               
objection.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE objected to it,  because it changes the nature of                                                               
the bill.  He thinks  there is already  a defacto  preference for                                                               
commercial  fishing within  the  department.  If Senator  Stedman                                                               
would add  some revenue to bump  up that $22 million  the general                                                               
fund already  gets from fisheries  a notch,  he might go  for the                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:19:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN commented  that taxation would not  fit under the                                                               
title.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO  quipped that  every  bill  seems taxing  these                                                               
days.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL asked  for a roll call vote:  Senator Stedman voted                                                               
yea;  Senators  Costello,  Coghill, Stoltze,  and  Chair  Giessel                                                               
voted nay; therefore Amendment 1 failed.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STOLTZE said  he would rather have this  issue go through                                                               
the deliberative process than go  through a voter initiative, and                                                               
this is the  appropriate place for the legislature  to advise the                                                               
Board  of  Fisheries. He  moved  to  report  SB 42,  version  29-                                                               
LS0096\H,  from  committee  with individual  recommendations  and                                                               
attached fiscal note(s).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN objected.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GIESSEL asked  for  a roll  call  vote: Senators  Coghill,                                                               
Stoltze, Costello,  and Chair Giessel voted  yea; Senator Stedman                                                               
voted nay. Therefore SB 42 moved from committee.                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB216-Amendment 2 in SRES-Coghill-4-14-2016.pdf SRES 4/14/2016 3:30:00 PM
HB 216
SB42-Amendment N.1-04-14-2016.PDF SRES 4/14/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 42