Dear UFA Members and Friends,
In this issue:
- 31st Legislature Recap
- UFA Hires Former ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Director
- Lawsuit Against Bristol Bay RSDA Dismissed
- Derelict Vessel Bill Update
- Pebble Mine EIS Comment Period Extended
- **Legislative Happenings from this Week**
- **Legislative Meetings of Interest for Next Week**
- How to Testify, Watch, or Listen to a Hearing
- Bills Related for Fisheries, and other Bills of Interest to Fishermen
31st Legislature Recap
The 31st Legislature gaveled out on Wednesday May 15 and convened to Special Sessionthe following morning. The PFD and the budget were the major issues this year for the legislature, making it difficult to get many bills passed.
Bills: Out of the 12 bills UFA tracked, only one bill made it out of the House and Senate and is waiting transmittal to the Governor. That bill is SB 61 – Commercial Fishermen’s Fund: Vessel Owner Claims. None of the bills we are tracking were included in the Governor’s proclamation for Special Session, so they will not be making any movement at this time. Bills that were left in committees may resurface next session.
Budget: The Conference Committee took up the Fish & Game budget on May 11. They agreed to the House add of $997k General Funds for commercial fisheries. However, they did make a small decrement to the travel line of the Division of Commercial Fisheries budget. Yet to be voted on is the 50% travel decrement related to Board Support and Advisory Committees. There are still a few items open related to the division directors for Habitat and Subsistence Research and the associated funding and intent language/structure changes related to these divisions.
Board of Fisheries: Gerad Godfrey, Marit Carlson-Van Dort, and Israel Payton were all appointed to the Board of Fisheries. An effort launched by UFA and backed by many UFA member groups and commercial fishermen around the state were successful in stopping former BOF chair Karl Johnstone from getting appointed back to the board. The Governor has not yet appointed someone to the vacant BOF seat.
UFA Hires Former ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Director
UFA is pleased to announce the hiring of Scott Kelley as its Executive Administrator effective June, 2019.Mr. Kelley, a Juneau resident, brings vast experience in commercial fisheries as the former Director of Commercial Fisheries for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Scott’s immense knowledge of commercial fisheries in Alaska is well-respected and his relationship with commercial fishermen is extremely valuable.We are very lucky to have him join our organization!Mr. Kelley will be replacing retiring UFA employee Mark Vinsel who has dedicated 18 years to UFA.
Lawsuit Against Bristol Bay RSDA Dismissed
On April 1, 2019, six Bristol Bay fishermen filed a lawsuit financed by the Pebble Limited Partnership against the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) alleging it was spending funds outside of its statutory purposes. Today, Alaska Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux dismissed the case against BBRSDA and the other named defendants who received funding from BBRSDA. Judge Lamoureux agreed with BBRSDA that it was acting within its statutory purpose of promoting the Bristol Bay fishery in opposing the Pebble Mine, which could have a devastating effect on the commercial fishery it seeks to support and enhance. Continue Reading…
Derelict Vessel Bill Update
Last year, SB 92 – Vessels: Registration/Titles; Derelicts was adopted and put into law. The UFA office has fielded a few questions regarding what this means for commercial fishing vessels and if any new costs or registrations will be required. DMV stated that a boat over 24’ now has to be documented. If it is already a fully-documented boat with the Coast Guard then they don’t have to apply for a title. If it is not documented with the Coast Guard then they have to Title it with DMV. This cost $20.00. The money raised from those titles goes to DMV processing fees and the rest goes to helping deal with derelict vessels.
Pebble Mine EIS Comment Period Extended
The Pebble Mine EIS Comment Period was extended to July 1, 2019. Save Bristol Bayhas an online template for commenting which may be accessed here. Alternatively, you may send comments directly to the Army Corps of Engineers Pebble Project EIS website.
-Frances Leach, Executive Director
Please feel free to track bills in The Bill Tracking Management Facility (BTMF).
To testify, watch or listen in to a hearing …
To testify it’s best to go to a Legislative Information office – see them online at http://akleg.gov/lios.php . If you can’t get to an LIO you can call in to listen in or testify through the following numbers – call & ask for the specific committee hearing:
- From Anchorage based phones call 907-563-9085;
- From Juneau based phones or outside Alaska call 907-586-9085;
- From other areas of Alaska, call toll-free 844-586-9085…and ask for the specific hearing.
To watch hearings online go to legislative home page at http://w3.akleg.gov/ at the time of the hearing, and click on the “Live Now” tab, and then select the meeting.
To watch floor sessions and other hearings see Gavel to Gavel archives.
To find your legislators and contact info see http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/ – see “WHO REPRESENTS ME?” in the lower right corner of the page.
Bills related to fisheries that we are tracking, and others that may be of interest to fishermen.
SB 22 – Shellfish Enhance. Projects; Hatcheries (Stevens- Senate Finance- UFA Supports) Referred to Senate Finance with no scheduled hearings at this time.
SB 51 – Natl. Res. Water Nomination/Designation (Senate Resources) Currently in Senate Resources with no scheduled hearings at this time.
SB 61 – Commercial Fishermen’s Fund: Vessel Owner Claims (Stevens – UFA Supports) Passed the Senate and the House and currently awaiting transmittal to Governor.
SB 63 – Fish Tax: Repeal Muni Refunds/Rev. Share (Senate Rules by Request of the Governor- UFA Opposes) Currently in Senate Community and Regional Affairs with no scheduled hearings at this time.
SB 90 – Cook Inlet: New Admin Area; Permit Buyback (Micciche) Currently in Senate Finance with no scheduled hearings at this time.
SB 99 – Personal Use Fishing Priority (Kawasaki- UFA Opposes). Referred to Senate Resources with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HB 35 – Conflict of Interest: Board Fisheries/Game (Stutes – UFA Supports) Referred to Senate State Affairs with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HB 41 – Shellfish Enhance. Projects; Hatcheries (Ortiz – UFA Supports) Passed the House, referred to Senate Finance with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HB 65 – Fish Tax: Repeal Muni Refunds/Rev. Share (House Rules by Request of the Governor – UFA Opposes) Currently in House Fisheries with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HB 105 – Commercial Fishermen’s Fund: Vessel Owner Claims. (Ortiz- UFA Supports) Currently in House Finance with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HB 116 – Aquatic Farm/Hatchery Site Leases. (Story). Currently in House Rules with no scheduled hearings at this time.
HR 8 – 2019 International Year of the Salmon Resolution. Currently in House Rules with no scheduled hearings at this time.
This update is made possible by the support of our Group, Business, Individual and Crew members.
To join UFA see https://www.ufafish.org/become-a-member/