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AK Legislature

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AK Legislature

Postby ata » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:17 pm

Happy Sunday, I guess....

Today I turned on my computer to work on Board of Fisheries proposals and several other ATA things that are sorely in need of doing. There in my inbox was an email telling me that HCR 29 could scream through the legislature in its final week. This, and it's double (SCR 21) have both been on the scene only since March 31!

So, what is it? It's yet another disappointing Board of Fish/ADFG bashing and task force idea from Cook Inlet, which is expected to result in recommendations about how to remedy the situation in that region to the benefit of one user group. Pasted below are the comments I fired off today. My writing should be in blue - the complete resolution in black. I apologize in advance for any glitches and typos, and for the length of this post, but thought it was worth showing you, as there will likely be a lot more of these bills next year.

Why should this issue bother trollers? First, the legislature has no business making management recommendations - that's why they empowered the Board of Fish, to distance the politics. And, because the push for sport priority and reallocation through fish initiatives in Alaska was spawned in Cook Inlet and has spread around the state like a disease. In the face of 'fair use', the promoters of these concepts want to take anyone down who stands between them and their target species. We will continue to confront this in Southeast and, when we can, we must band together with others similarly challenged. If you allow the fleet in front of you to go down - you're next.

ATA knows that it's not all sport interests on the attack - and it's mostly NOT resident anglers. It's not even everyone in the guided sportfishing industry. It's just those loud and monied few and their followers who love to keep the pot stirred. This resolution is part of a suite of proposed legislation that was introduced this second half of the legislative session. I suspect NEXT session will be full of these things and we must be prepared. By the way, "WE" includes YOU.

Fishermen, of all types, need to start focusing on their common ground and work to defeat this small way of thinking. We need to work as neighbors on Alaska's economic plan - and there should be room for all. In the meantime, ATA and others in our industry will work to try and keep these sport priority campaigns at bay, but the war includes many pitched battles. I hope you'll work with us, and join your groups and contribute extra for your issue of concern, so we have the resources to continue this fight, among all the many others.

Here's hoping we can get to a place of cooperation with those who are chronically fighting us, but in the meantime, please let the legislature know that this approach to fisheries management just doesn't fly! You can find committee information and email addresses here: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/

Dale, ATA

[color=#0080FF]April 6, 2008

Alaska State Legislature
State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801

Dear Legislators:

I am sorry for a rather ‘off the cuff’ response below to HCR 29 and SCR 21, but the makers left the public little choice. Imagine my surprise to find that a resolution as controversial as HCR 29 moved so quickly through Resources Committee and on to Rules. Ironically, I got on the computer this morning specifically to work on Alaska Trollers Association’s proposals for the Board of Fisheries, a forum held in high regard, along with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, by people in my industry.

HCR 29 and SCR 21 are ill-thought out resolutions that seek, yet again, to undermine the public process on behalf of a special interest. I encourage you to vote ‘no’ to the formation of the requested task force and speak against these resolutions in total.

I have detailed within the resolution text below a few of the concerns of myself and Alaska Trollers Association (ATA) with the specific issues and proposed actions as outlined in both resolutions. Hopefully the legislature will turn its attention to more pressing state matters next week. I will be traveling and have an extremely full schedule, so will likely not testify at any hearing on these resolutions, but did not want to let them get by without some form of comment on the record.

Hopefully you will agree with our concerns about the resolution itself, and oppose its passage. Initiatives of this nature do nothing but pit citizens against one another, while demoralizing the many fine people who willingly serve on the Boards of Fish and Game and work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Instead of taking the bait hidden in these resolutions, the legislature could provide strong leadership by supporting the state’s excellent system of fisheries management and encouraging fishermen of all types to work together on their many common issues.
[/color]
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 29

01 Establishing the Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force as a joint legislative task force.

02 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:

03 WHEREAS art. VIII, sec. 2, Constitution of the State of Alaska, mandates that
04 Alaska's resources be managed for the maximum benefit of its people; and

When did commercial fishermen in the State of Alaska become second class citizens? And, when did the consumers we serve become less important than the non-resident anglers who benefit by hiring sportfishing guides? This seems not only unfair to the state’s residents, but a poor economic model for Alaska. Let’s not forget that a substantial part of the Alaskan and American public are only able to access their share of the state and nation’s fisheries resources via commercial harvest.

05 WHEREAS Southcentral Alaska has the highest concentration of population in the

06 state and Cook Inlet is located in Southcentral Alaska; and

True, but all of them do not sportfish. Besides, the focus of this resolution appears more directed at economic ‘value’ to the state, not simply access to the resource, which suggests some legislators might prefer the guided sportfishing industry over not only the seafood industry, but perhaps even resident anglers.

07 WHEREAS the sport fishing community is a vital part of the local and statewide

08 tourism industry and the Cook Inlet region sustains 55 percent of the statewide sport and

09 personal use fishing effort; and

10 WHEREAS the economic contribution to the state of the in-river sport and personal

11 use fisheries in Cook Inlet far exceed the ex-vessel value of the Cook Inlet commercial fishing


12 harvests; and

Simplistic comparisons of value between sport and commercial fishing are neither accurate nor fair to the state’s people. Exvessel value simply does not reflect the true value of commercial fishing to this state. However, if the state of Alaska is only interested in supporting the wealthiest fisheries, perhaps they should endorse trawl only fishing as the most efficient and economically feasible means to harvest our state’s resources. And, they pay direct landing taxes to the general fund, just like the rest of the commercial fishing industry.


13 WHEREAS the Department of Fish and Game has repeatedly failed to successfully

14 manage the competing goals of maximizing the commercial fishing harvest of Central District

15 salmon stocks and meeting minimum escapement goals in the Northern District; and

We take issue with this statement, which begs a series of questions and answers regarding past and current management actions and sport and commercial fishing pressure in various areas of Cook Inlet, but the timing of this resolution gives the public no way to frame the questions and get the answers, much less refute inaccurate or misleading statements. We are left with pointing to years of outstanding Board of Fisheries record and ADFG performance.

ADFG is world renown for its commitment and ability to manage a resource to achieve biological goals - when it is possible to do so. As any of us involved with fisheries resources know, there are sometimes things in nature beyond our control. Despite that fact, ADFG has been exceptional in its implementation of risk management through its inseason actions, including fishery closures for conservation when necessary, regardless the cost to industry.

It is also well known that problems have erupted in the Cook Inlet management program for many years, not because of the failings of ADFG, but due to political pressures on the Board of Fisheries and/or lawmakers to placate one user group.

This resolution, for instance, comes on the heels of Board of Fisheries decisions that some did not like. There has been no time to allow these decisions to be implemented and analyzed. Just what will the legislature be able to glean by Feb. 2009, which is more meaningful than all that the Board of Fish considered, with regard to evaluating the impact of the new regulations?
16 WHEREAS the Yentna River has failed to achieve the minimum escapement goal

01 during six of the last nine years, despite the Department of Fish and Game's and the Board of

02 Fisheries' lowering the minimum escapement goals on two separate occasions; and

Given that the state founders wisely separated the duties of the legislature and administration from those of the Board of Fisheries and ADFG managers, this is a very large claim for legislators to make when they are not directly involved in the process, and is very likely to be unsupported by the evidence.


03 WHEREAS the Board of Fisheries, in accordance with the sustainable salmon
04 management policy, declared Susitna drainage sockeye salmon a yield stock of concern, but

05 failed to take action to reduce the commercial harvest of those stocks; and

The Board of Fisheries, combined with ADFG’s conservation mandate, is the best template for fisheries management anywhere in the world. It is disheartening to see the sustained attack on this system, often by a few wealthy interests who seek mostly to line their own pockets.

The Board has a difficult job, at best, as it tries to balance conservation and the competing interests of its citizens with the non-residents served by an a few in the tourism industry who often show no mercy for the people who live here. Chronic political pressure in the Cook Inlet region has at times prevented the Board from doing its best work. Worse, politicizing the appointment process in past years has led to management programs in need of course corrections, in order to maintain fair access and provide a healthier economic balance in Cook Inlet. During those years, commercial fisheries were nearly dismantled, which has meant a significant loss to the state.

More recent decisions by the Board may simply be an attempt to better balance the needs of coastal communities with the onslaught of non-resident tourism. However, given the rush of some legislators to move this resolution, nearly in the dark of night, many of us do not have adequate time to research the matter and provide meaningful examples of the situation in Cook Inlet. Do you who are voting have sufficient information to judge? And, do you really want to take time away from the matters of state within your jurisdiction to make such determinations? Isn’t that why we have a Board of Fisheries and separation of powers and responsibilities?


06 WHEREAS the Department of Fish and Game has failed to provide a comprehensive

07 management and research strategy to reduce allocative conflict within Cook Inlet;

The strength of the Alaska system lies in the fact that ADFG is largely separated from allocation, thereby minimizing political decisions being made by fisheries scientists and managers. In fact, any allocation plan established by the Board of Fisheries is quickly cast aside by our managers if the health of the resource appears at risk. ADFG managers should not be hamstrung by the politics of allocation. Their job is conservation first and foremost. This is as it should be. And it is also just plain wrong when ADFG is tasked to do lopsided economic research serving one particular interest group.

08 BE IT RESOLVED that the Twenty-Fifth Alaska State Legislature forms the Cook

09 Inlet Salmon Task Force composed of 10 legislators: five members from the senate appointed

10 by the president of the senate and five members from the house of representatives appointed

11 by the speaker of the house of representatives; and be it

ATA strongly opposes formation this task force and sees no need to expend state resources in such a way.

12 FURTHER RESOLVED that the president of the senate and the speaker of the house

13 of representatives shall jointly appoint the chair and vice-chair of the task force; and be it

14 FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall examine the conservation and
15 allocation issues within fisheries management of Cook Inlet; and be it

What expertise does the legislature bring to the table for this analysis?


16 FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall examine the economic effect of
17 Cook Inlet salmon and the maximum benefit of those salmon to the people of Alaska; and be

“Maximum benefit” is a subjective thing. Are you talking in terms of lots of cold hard cash to a select few, or broadly distributed benefits that provide a mix of jobs and financial opportunity for the region and state? What is the relative ‘value’ of this job or that – your job, or mine? Why does this resolution speak to the ‘higher’ value of sportfishing? Does making more dollars per fish truly signify greater ‘benefit’ to the state? For over 100 years, plenty of people in this state have made a modest living and supported our communities through commercial fishing. Why are these people less important? And, why is putting all the state’s employment eggs in one industry basket, or one mode of use, a healthy economic model that ‘maximizes benefits’ to our state? Isn’t a diverse economy more likely to weather tough times? We don’t have much diversity here in Alaska, so it seems reasonable to embrace what we have. The best part is that it’s worked and, if we play our cards right, we can continue to have fish and healthy fisheries of all types. Further politicizing Cook Inlet and wasting precious state time on these issues is not playing Alaska’s economic game wisely.

18 it
19 FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall examine the legal and

20 constitutional issues of a buy-back program, reducing the number of commercial fishing
21 permits in Cook Inlet; and be it

First, why does the legislature need to examine these issues - unless this is a forced buyback and people want to cover their… well, you know. There is already a process in place to buyout commercial salmon fleets if it seems appropriate.

But the bigger question is why should the Cook Inlet fleet be bought out? Do they even want to be bought out? The only rationale I could possibly think of is if the state has unfairly regulated them to death, so perhaps owes them. That said my guess is they just want the opportunity to fish. Loss of those fleets would be a huge loss for our state, not to mention fiscally irresponsible, and would make our residents even more vulnerable to the nation’s tenuous economic state.

And what about when people can’t afford to come to Alaska, due to the rising cost of travel? What about the impact of Alaska reducing its seafood exports? Combine those two impacts…

This proposal suggests social engineering of the worst kind and will do away the very best of the unique spirit of the Great Land, reduce our resident’s and state’s economic options, and deeply affect fishing communities and families. Shame on those who don’t really care about all that – kinda makes you wonder where those folks live most of the year, doesn’t it?


22 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Cook Inlet Salmon Task Force shall submit a

23 report of its findings to the legislature on the first day of the First Regular Session of the

24 Twenty-Sixth Alaska State Legislature, which must include

25 (1) the short term and long term uses of Cook Inlet salmon consistent with the

26 maximum benefit principle contained within art. VIII, sec. 2, Constitution of the State of

27 Alaska;

28 (2) specific proposals to address the conservation issues in the Northern

29 District; and
30 (3) options to reduce allocative conflict in Cook Inlet, which may include a

31 buy-back program; and be it

If the Alaska Legislature thinks it’s in the state’s interest to usurp the Board of Fisheries, then I request that all of the 2009 Board of Fisheries meetings be conducted by the legislature. I suspect you wouldn’t like that and it would be real hard to fit into a 90-day session.

Last I actually counted, the Board of Fisheries considered about 1300 proposals a year. With few exceptions, their decisions have been accepted and supported by the public. Of those acrimonious issues that have been challenged in court, including questions of ‘maximum benefit’ and ‘fair use’, the Board of Fisheries has prevailed.

Does ATA support every decision made by the Board of Fisheries? No. However, we usually accept those decisions and recognize the value in being able to make our case on issues of concern to our fleet and industry. Sometimes we have to raise the issue at more than one meeting, but the point is that there is a proper forum, already established, to make requests and lodge any concerns. In fact, it’s frustrating to have to drop and take time from drafting ATA’s 2009 Board of Fish proposals to write this note to you today.

For all the acrimony a Board of Fish meeting can bring on select topics, it is the best arena in the business - a dynamic process, made better by the public’s direct involvement. If the legislature thinks they can improve on the model, let’s move to give you the whole shebang.


01 FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force is terminated on February 1, 2009.

Please do the state a favor, DO NOT allow this “task force” get off the ground. There is no fishing region more analyzed than Cook Inlet, so what would even be the point?

Please DO appoint upstanding, hardworking, responsible, Board of Fisheries members who are not on a mission to do anything but solid analysis and problem solving.

Please DO make sure ADFG has the resources to maintain a staff of unbiased professionals and then leave them alone to do what they do best – manage the resource for conservation and maximum sustained yield, based on solid, balanced, Board of Fisheries management plans developed with all affected stakeholders.

I think you will find that in the overall, this TO DO list is in the best interest of Alaska, and provides ‘maximum benefits’ to its people.


Sincerely,

Dale Kelley
Executive Director
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby Salty » Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:24 pm

Dale,
Quite a response. I suspect you are unhappy with the Bills. Good that you are still communicating with the Legislature.
Here are some phrases I recommend for those of you still communicating with Republican decision makers when discussing the guided sport fishery in SE Alaska.
1. Carbon guzzling;
2. Resource damaging;
3. Traditional fishing communities and fisheries impacting.

If any Republican decision makers are still within earshot I explain how that industry is carbon guzzling compared to local subsistence and sport fishermen harvesting fish to eat, compared to commercial fishermen harvesting fish for locals and the world to eat. I explain the problems we are having in the Sitka area protecting local resources from localized depletion and that we have passed all kinds of local initiatives and had them approved by the 'Board of Fisheries to protect shellfish, rockfish, and halibut from the guided sport fishery. I also, if the Republican decision maker is trapped by my presence, point out that the guided sport fish industry growth and present excess, like the fish trap industry, the island fox farming industry, and the industrialize pulp mill clear cut logging industry is doomed by evolving carbon footprint ethics, natural resource dynamics, and the high price of fuel. Meanwhile people catching fish to eat and bartering them for food or other things has been part of the SE culture for thousands of years and will be as long as humans reside here.
Anyway, some more ammo for your next fusilade. Just saw mother in Idaho and she said to "watch out for those charter boats".
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby ata » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:15 am

Morning All!

Here's an article about the bills referenced above, and more. A little preview of what we're dealing with again in the legislature. Hope it's not a harbinger for 2009, but you know how history tends to repeat.

http://www.adn.com/money/industries/fis ... 67974.html

Dale, ATA
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby ata » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:14 am

Monday April 7

YOUR HELP NEEDED RIGHT AWAY!!

Several legislators continue their quest to pass SCR 21 and HCR 29 (see above posts for more info). Please take a few minutes from your web-surf to write a POM (personal opinion message) to the full legislature. Here's how:

Go to online POM message system at: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/poms/

POM form should be selected to ALL REPRESENTATIVES. If you have a good working relationship with your representative, give them a call after writing your POM.

To find your representative's contact info see: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/index.php

Thanks!

Dale, ATA
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby Salty » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:38 am

Dale,
I have called and left messages with both Senator Stedman and Representative Wilson on this issue. I really appreciated the nice link to their contact numbers which you provided and since you had done such good work informing us I thought I would do a little to help.

eric
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby ata » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:40 am

Thanks, Eric - and anyone else who made calls or wrote emails.

The House side is on the move now - it passed the Senate, which is disappointing. Election politics rules the day.

Dale, ATA
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby Salty » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:54 am

Dale,
I also wrote comments on this action in the ADN Highliner Blog, and in the ADN comments on the story. I am very disappointed in the Legislature. Do you have the roll call on who voted which way on this? To me this is way over the line in terms of political intrusion into the management of Fish & Game.
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby ata » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:03 am

Hi All:

Below is the Legislative Journal entry on SCR 21 (see above posts for info). Elton and Stedman voted no, Kookesh did not attend the session. Despite the efforts of Elton, Stedman, and others, SCR21 passed the Senate and is expected to be on the House floor today.

Thanks for all who wrote and made calls!

Dale, ATA

04-09-2008 Senate Journal 2750
SCR 21
Senator Wagoner requested that the reconsideration on SENATE
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 21 Establishing the Cook Inlet
Salmon Task Force as a joint legislative task force, be taken up. The
resolution was before the Senate on reconsideration.

Senator Bunde declared a conflict of interest.

Senator Stedman called the Senate. Senator Stedman lifted the call.

The question to be reconsidered: "Shall SENATE CONCURRENT
RESOLUTION NO. 21 Establishing the Cook Inlet Salmon Task
Force as a joint legislative task force, pass the Senate?" The roll was
taken with the following result:

SCR 21
Second Reading - On Reconsideration

YEAS: 13 NAYS: 6 EXCUSED: 0 ABSENT: 1

Yeas: Bunde, Cowdery, Davis, Ellis, French, Green, Hoffman,
Huggins, McGuire, Olson, Therriault, Thomas, Wielechowski

Nays: Dyson, Elton, Stedman, Stevens, Wagoner, Wilken

Absent: Kookesh

Therriault changed from "Nay" to "Yea".
04-09-2008 Senate Journal 2751

and so, SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 21 passed the
Senate on reconsideration and was referred to the Secretary for
engrossment.
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby Salty » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:55 pm

Dale,
How does it look in the house? Who should we contact?

eric
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby Ocean Gold » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:00 pm

If you haven't heard yet the resolution passed the house also. Not many of the Senators are that interested in serving on the task force now that it is set up.
The vote in the House is:
HOUSE VOTE TO PASS SCR 21
V
oting to pass: Cissna, Coghill, Doogan, Edgmon, Fairclough, Foster, Gara,
Gardner, Gatto, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Harris, Hawker, Holmes, Johnson, Joule,
Kawasaki, Keller, Kelly, Lynn, Meyer, Nelson, Neuman, Olson, Ramras, Roses,
Samuels, Stoltze.

Voting against passage: Buch, Chenault, Crawford, Dahlstrom, Doll, Johansen,
Kerttula, LeDoux, Salmon, Seaton, Thomas, Wilson.
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Re: AK Legislature

Postby StephenH » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:41 pm

Nice read here on AK legislature..
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