Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/17/2003 11:45 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        HB  24-AGREEMENTS ON MANAGEMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BRUCE WEYHRAUCH, bill  sponsor, explained that when                                                              
Congress   passed   ANILCA,   [Alaska   National   Interest   Land                                                              
Conservation  Act] it made  Glacier Bay  National Park  a monument                                                              
and  expanded  the boundaries  to  include  the inside  waters  of                                                              
Glacier Bay out  into Icy Strait to the middle of  Cross Sound and                                                              
the outside  waters off shore three  miles into Lituya  Bay, which                                                              
encompasses  about 500,000  marine acres  of water.  In 1991,  the                                                              
Alaska Wildlife  Alliance  sued the park  superintendent  and said                                                              
ANILCA  prohibited fishing  in the  bay. The  Ninth Circuit  Court                                                              
confirmed that  ANILCA didn't prohibit  commercial fishing  in the                                                              
bay, but  the National  Park Service  (NPS) could, by  regulation,                                                              
close commercial  fishing in  the park.  After that decision,  the                                                              
NPS began to  close areas of the  bay to fishing and  then because                                                              
of the  growing storm  in Alaska, Senator  Ted Stevens  inserted a                                                              
provision in law  that closed commercial fishing  in certain areas                                                              
of Glacier Bay and restricted continued  commercial fishing in the                                                              
bay  proper to  those  who were  in the  tanner  crab, salmon  and                                                              
halibut  fisheries giving  them a lifetime  access permit.  Later,                                                              
Senator Frank Murkowski  passed Senate Bill 501  that required the                                                              
State  of Alaska  and the  federal  government to  enter into  co-                                                              
management agreements  on commercial  fishing. Co-management  is a                                                              
concern,  and  the  intent  of  this   bill  is  to  disallow  the                                                              
commissioner to enter into agreements  with the federal government                                                              
that cede  jurisdiction by contract  what can't happen  by federal                                                              
or constitutional law.                                                                                                          
Initially the  bill was introduced  to prohibit all  co-management                                                              
agreements  between the  sovereign and  the State  of Alaska  that                                                              
surrender jurisdiction  and management over  commercial fisheries.                                                              
Currently the bill  prohibits the commissioner from  entering into                                                              
any contract with  the federal government [National  Park Service]                                                              
that cedes  jurisdiction over the  management and  jurisdiction of                                                              
Alaska commercial fisheries.                                                                                                    
CHAIR GARY STEVENS said he understands  that jurisdiction could be                                                              
ceded, but only after a hearing and the legislative process.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  said, "It  would  prohibit  it. If  the                                                              
State of  Alaska and  the NPS  entered in  agreement that  the NPS                                                              
could  set  species  to  be harvested  or  manner  and  method  or                                                              
seasons,  that   would  be  ceding   its  jurisdiction   over  the                                                              
management  of commercial  fisheries and  it couldn't  do that  by                                                              
contract  because  the state  has  plenary jurisdiction  over  the                                                              
management of our commercial fisheries."                                                                                        
The  House Judiciary  Committee  wanted to  extend  this to  every                                                              
contract  between  the state  and  federal government,  which  was                                                              
problematic.  There are  certain agreements  that are  ministerial                                                              
and  beneficial to  the  state and  don't  cede jurisdiction.  Co-                                                              
management  agreements  are  fine  so  long  as  they  don't  cede                                                              
SENATOR  JOHN  COWDERY  asked how  many  co-management  agreements                                                              
there are.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said there are many. He said  he knew of                                                              
no co-management  agreements over fisheries in Glacier  Bay proper                                                              
and the  outside waters,  but this is  to provide notice  that the                                                              
Legislature is  sensitive to this  as well as to  caution agencies                                                              
not to cede management jurisdiction.                                                                                            
SENATOR COWDERY asked about economic impacts.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said there aren't now  any co-management                                                              
agreements that are jurisdictional. The measure is prophylactic.                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked Mr. White to comment on the bill.                                                                      
STEVE WHITE,  Department of Law,  said their initial  concerns had                                                              
been addressed. It  is clear that the intent of the  bill does not                                                              
apply to  existing agreements in  which the state is  acting under                                                              
acknowledged  federal authority  and assisting  in the process  of                                                              
co-management.   The  state  is   cooperating  with   the  federal                                                              
government  in  areas  such  as   migratory  bird  management  and                                                              
management of subsistence, but it's  their interpretation that the                                                              
bill doesn't affect that.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  FRED  DYSON  asked  what  would  happen  if  the  federal                                                              
government  determined  the  state should  cede  jurisdiction  and                                                              
state law prohibited that.                                                                                                      
MR. WHITE replied  the federal government couldn't  take any state                                                              
management prerogatives away without an act of Congress.                                                                        
SENATOR DYSON asked whether it would  be necessary to file suit in                                                              
the event  of a  disagreement since  federal law supercedes  state                                                              
MR.  WHITE  said he  wasn't  sure  which  party would  initiate  a                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said the state should  not cede, through                                                              
contract, what it can't cede by constitution;  and the Legislature                                                              
needs to  go on record  as setting a  policy in statute  that says                                                              
the  state  doesn't   have  co-management  agreements   that  cede                                                              
management jurisdiction.                                                                                                        
SENATOR DYSON  asked if anyone had  testified against the  bill as                                                              
it moved through the House.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  replied no one had. Initially  there was                                                              
discussion   regarding   language  nuance,   but   there  was   no                                                              
SENATOR COWDERY made a motion to  move CSHB 24(JUD) from committee                                                              
with individual recommendations.  There being no objection, it was                                                              
so ordered.                                                                                                                     

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