Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/17/2003 11:45 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 jurisdiction. 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 law. MR. WHITE said he wasn't sure which party would initiate a lawsuit. 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 opposition. SENATOR COWDERY made a motion to move CSHB 24(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered.