Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Homer Charter Association Meeting 2/7/07

The Homer Charter Association will hold a general meeting on February 7th, 2007 at 6:00pm. The meeting will be held at the Homer Chamber of Commerce. We will start a little earlier so we don’t run so late. Remind other members and those interested in our issues about this meeting, we have new issues to deal with. Make your views known.
Thanks, Gary

Monday, January 29, 2007

People on both sides of this issue be it charter owners established prior to any talk of
A charter limit when the catch was taken off the top that later supported the Purposed Charter IFQ Program.
Then the charter owners that started in the mid to late 90’s that were torn on how to support a program that would leave them in but severely hampered by not having enough
Proposed IFQ’s to finish their season.
To the charter owners that have recently entered the business before Dec. 9, 2005.

These three groups mentioned above are divided by our own doing.
Each group has their own thoughts on how or what measures should have been taken.
Each group knows who the other one is and where they stand and who to blame.
Each group holds the other responsible.

The IPHC, the NMFS, the NPFMC, the AP, the ADFG, the HC the longliners
All see us as one!

The charters catch is over the GHL. Be afraid of the TOC.
Where is the CEY.

In April of this year the North Council could vote on a Charter Halibut Moratorium.
All that has happened is in the past. What is lost is gone. It is time to move forward.

In April of this year the North Council could vote on a Charter Halibut Moratorium!
As one group we should show our support of this.
This would be a major step in the right direction.
This could be the third action adopted towards the charter fleet this year.
1st was the proposed one fish limit for area 3A June 15th thru June 30th, in area 2C June 15th thru July 30th.
2ND was an Emergency Order prohibiting skipper & crew fish.

Could this stop the over fishing in areas 2C and 3A?

Implementation of a halibut charter moratorium would stop the growth in the charter fishery.
This could stop any further regulatory controls on the guided sport fishery for now.

Does the future in this fishery look bleak?
Yes it does.

There are many great leaders in our industry, if we as one group could work together we could have a say in our future.
David B. Greiner

Halibut Charter Moratorium Analysis available

The draft analysis was published 1/19/2007. It is 120 pages long. Very interesting. Lots of info that the stakeholders will be working on during the Feb. meeting. Check it out at then click on " Halibut Charter Moratorium Analysis under In The News. Also info on how to submit your comments which must be done by Wed. 1/31/07

Rumor Extinguisher

Just talked to IPHC Director Bruce Leaman at 10:20 today and the 1 fish reduction proposal will be moving forward and should arrive at the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of State's office around the 2nd week of February. There is no indication that this action by the IPHC will be prevented from completing the approval process. No one has recinded it as of today.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Halibut quotas create praise, concern from fishers

Web posted Sunday, January 28, 2007

Halibut quotas create praise, concern from fishers
By Margaret Bauman
Alaska Journal of Commerce

A mid-January decision by the International Pacific Halibut Commission to limit customers of halibut charters to one fish per day for a limited period of peak weeks is drawing praise from commercial fishermen and strong criticism from charter operators.

The controversy centers on the IPHC decision to put a one halibut per day limit on customers of charter boat operators from June 15 to June 30 in Southcentral Alaska and from June 15 to the end of July in Southeast Alaska. The halibut season runs from March 10 to Nov. 15 in Alaska.

Charter operators fear some clients will cancel their trips because of the one halibut limit, but commercial representatives are happy with the move.

“They did everything right,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association in Sitka, noting that the IPHC action also included a reduction in the commercial harvest in Southeast.

“We down here supported a reduction in harvest for conservation reasons and the commission adopted that recommendation,” Behnken said. The continued reduction in the allowable commercial harvest won't have an overall effect on prices, although there will be a cost to the industry, “but people were willing to take that reduction for sustainability.”

Behnken said the sport harvest taken by customers of Southeast charter operators was 46 percent over its allocation in 2006, while the commercial catch has been under its allocation for a decade. “If we go over (the limit) we pay huge penalties and it is taken out of our quota for the following year,” she said. “For the last three years in Southeast the guided sport has gone over its guideline harvest level.”

Behnken voted for the halibut charter individual fishing quotas in 2001, when she was a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. When the council voted in December 2005 to move IFQs for halibut charter boats back to square one, Behnken called it “a giant step into the past. They're afraid to make hard decisions to maintain the health of the resource and the health of the industry,” she said.

Veteran charter operators, whose businesses will be affected by a one-halibut limit for a finite but critical part of their season, were equally frustrated with the council process.

Bob Ward, secretary of the Homer Charter Association, worked with the council to resolve issues on the allowable harvest for charter vessel patrons and the right of charter vessel operators to purchase IFQ.

The IPHC “has given us a pretty severe blow,” he said. “For 13 years, we fought to prevent this kind of measure having to be taken. This is a major slap in the face. We thought the council was listening to us the past 13 years while we have tried to educate them on certain things about industry needs and certain things that will hurt our industry beyond repair.” Ward and Larry McQuarrie, a veteran charter operator and owner of the Sportsman's Cove Lodge in Ketchikan, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Jim Balsiger, Alaska regional director of NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, in Juneau.

Balsiger “allowed his office to take four years to do his jobÉ and more people came in,” said Ward.

“If the council had done its job, and NMFS had done its job it would never have come to this,” McQuarrie said. “The council's scientific and statistical committee said that the available data was good enough to build a charter IFQ system on. There were strings being pulled that didn't want the IFQ to go forward, so when it finally did get out of NMFS it didn't go forward.”

Balsiger said he wasn't defending the four years his agency took to work on the issue of halibut taken by the charter industry.

“It took too long,” Balsiger said. “An easy rule at the council takes 18 months to two years. We (at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council level) do almost nothing in 18 months. I'm not trying to make an excuse. I think four years is too long, but the halibut charter IFQ required a lot of work to meet legal and enforceability problems.”

In what many in the charter halibut industry, and commercial fisheries, considered a huge blow, the North Pacific Council in December 2005 essentially sent the whole issue of IFQs for halibut charter boasts back to the drawing table. Arne Fuglvog, a Petersburg fisherman then serving on the council, and now an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said at the time he remained convinced that charter boat IFQs, based on the owner's history in the fishery, were the best solution for the charter sector. A major problem was that from the time the NPFMC began debating the issue and reached a vote, numerous new charter owners entered the fishery.

“It's a mess, in that the entire hook and line halibut fishery in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, both commercial and charter, are destabilized by the current management system, which is the guideline harvest level established at the NPFMC because the GHL (guideline harvest level) places a cap on the charter fishery harvest without any other limitations,” McQuarrie said. “So in effect we have a limited number of fish and an unlimited number of charter boats. Whether we like to hear it or not from the charter sector, that is the destabilizing influence in both fisheries.”

McQuarrie said he favors a moratorium on charter vessels. “The charter industry needs to get its own house in order. We need to get control of our own industry and the first step is a short-term moratorium on entrance into the fishery, followed as soon as possible by a permanent solution and in my opinion it should be an IFQ-like solution that merges with the commercial IFQ so there is an orderly and compensated shift allocated,” he said.

“That in a nutshell is the issue, and, of course, from our position, we would like to see the council process work.”

McQuarrie said a moratorium on new charters in the fleet is the short-term solution, with a long-term solution of an IFQ-style system for charters to merge with the commercial IFQ system.

Forcing charter operators to limit their customers to one halibut a day during periods when there are few if any other options for fish is likely to lead to highgrading, he said. There will be more fish being released, as customers hope to catch a larger halibut, “and whenever you release fish there is some mortality,” he said.

UFA on the halibut charter IFQ

Excerpt from Anchorage Daily news.
Fishermen unite to talk to lawmakers

Published: January 27, 2007
Last Modified: January 27, 2007 at 12:42 AM

KODIAK -- The United Fishermen of Alaska this week selected a slate of fish issues it will bring before Alaska lawmakers this year.

Topping the commercial-fishing group's list is support for restricting sport halibut charters by imposing quota shares on the industry, whose catches have skyrocketed in some regions.

"We feel that the sport charter halibut sector needs to pony up and sit at the table with us and take some responsibility for conservation and longer-term allocations," said outgoing UFA president Bobby Thorstenson Jr.
Get the rest of their agenda @

Friday, January 26, 2007

Skipper And Crew Fish Are Gone For South Central

The Emergency Order we have been waiting for is now released. Go to the following link.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NPFMC agenda for Feb7-13

180th Plenary Session
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
February 7-13, 2007
Benson Hotel
Submission of Written Comments. Written comments and materials to be included in Council meeting notebooks must be received at the Council office by 5:00 pm (Alaska Time) on Tuesday January 30, 2007.
C-4 Charter Halibut Management
(a) Review report on Area 2A catch sharing plan (report under B-2).
(b) Initial Review of moratorium analysis.
(c) Review workplan for regulatory amendment package (SSC only).
(6 hrs)

What do you think? Last Day to mail comments. Does not seem worthwhile to hop a plane for Portland.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

sample letter to the secretary

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

January 21, 2007

Dear Dr. Rice,

On Friday, January 19, the International Pacific Halibut Commission voted to impose a 1 halibut limit on recreational anglers who fish from charter boats during portions of June and July in Alaska. I am a concerned US citizen who values my rightful access to this public trust resource and I am writing you to protest this action.

The IPHC has made a domestic allocation decision by restricting recreational charter harvest to the direct benefit of the longline sector. Additionally, by allocating 1 fish per day to charter recreational anglers and 2 fish per day to private recreational anglers, the IPHC has made an arbitrary allocation decision within the recreational sector.

The Guideline Harvest Level (GHL), which is advisory only in nature, has been turned by the IPHC into a hard allocation, complete with restrictive measures, without the protections and opportunities for public participation, and without regulatory review or environmental and economic impact analysis required of the Fisheries Management Council process.

By restricting charter recreational anglers while not restricting private anglers, the IPHC is violating the fair and equitable clause of the Halibut Act, in addition to discriminating between residents of different states, also a violation of the Halibut Act. (The vast majority of charter clients in Alaska are residents of other states.)

The IPHC claims their action comes from a biological concern because the Constant Exploitation Yield (CEY) was exceeded. The simple fact is that the projections used by the IPHC to estimate recreational removals were wrong. Despite the fact that the theoretical CEY was exceeded due to inaccurate projections, the IPHC admitted that the halibut stocks are healthy, and allocated 880 thousand pounds more than IPHC staff recommendations to the commercial sector. IPHC’s “biological concerns” are a weak excuse for the reallocation of the resource from the recreational sector to the commercial sector.

The IPHC has previously been advised by NOAA that domestic allocation decisions are the responsibility of the Fisheries Management Councils, and not IPHC. Please take immediate action on this issue by disapproving IPHC’s action, and reminding both the IPHC and the NPFMC of their respective responsibilities and limitations with respect to management of the species.


Open Letter to ACA and other interested readers

The one fish limit should be seen as a wakeup call and a warning.

We are all so lucky that the TAC ( total allowable catch ) did not decrease. If it had, the one fish limit in the latter part of June would seem like a minor restriction. You want to fight the commercial fishers for more fish or a more fair division of fish or a greater say on issues etc. fine have at it, knowing all along that you are up against a deeply entrenched and connected group. They have been fishing halibut in the North Pacific since about 1910. Generations of them have set up international commissions and research groups covering all aspects of their fishery, most importantly the political aspects.

There are 2 major users of the fishery and we aren’t one of them. The 1st one that controls with the least amount of impact on themselves are the bottom draggers. Do you not think for one minute that if the longliners could have they would have got rid of the bottom trawl bycatch. Trawlers in Alaska bring in more dollar value of fish than any other fishery. Bycatch of halibut is just the cost of doing business. The next major group is the longliners. They will not give us a fish. They have more resources than we ever will. You are naive if you think you can gather up all the supposedly disenfranished sportfishers of the country and rally them behind you to rip more fish from the commercial fishers. Won’t happen. By all means waste your precious time and money on following Bruce Warner on his crusade against the evil commercial fishermen. Remember that the resource is fully utilized and that they feed vastly more people in the country than we do. They already have the moral high ground because they can say that they have restricted themselves to keep their fishery sustainable. We cannot say that. We cannot control our growth. It is all well and good to expound on the virtues of a Free For All lifestyle and how everyone has a god given right in this country to start and run any business they want. After all it must be written in the constitution somewhere blah,blah,blah.

While you are fighting that endless fight ( they will hobble the issue forever just like they did last time ) we will be seeing more restrictions placed on us.

You want more fish from them. Why would you want more fish? Suppose somehow after costly years of fighting we were able to get a million more pounds of fish for our area ( Cook Inlet). Do you think somehow the population of Cook Inlet fish would miraculously swell by a million pounds? We have been charter fishing Cook Inlet for 28 years and can definitely say we have near shore depletion. There is nowhere we can reach in a one day trip that even comes close to fishing like it was even 10 years ago. We are hammering these fish as hard as we can. More boats, more fishermen, better equipment, ½ day trips and overnight trips all contribute to the impact. The only fish safe from us are over 60 miles away. The only reason we haven’t gotten to them is we haven’t developed the technology to get there and back in one day and still make money at it. Already boats struggle to get a load of decent fish. Not all the boats all the time but all the boats some of the time. Everyday boats come back with less than a limit and small fish. Half day boats cannot even get a limit where massive schools of small fish used to live. The 50% allocation idea is laughable. The vast majority of halibut live so far offshore we will never get to them.

Immediate business must be taken care of. The moratorium date of December 9th 2005 must be carved in stone and not a minute lost. It must become the law this year or next at the latest. There can be no more charter permits allowed. Look around you and know that every new captain that gets onboard potentially cuts your income. That is not ok by me. This cannot be a wide open fishery anymore. If we cannot all come together to stop our growth then we deserve the restrictions that are going to be placed on us. I say stop the growth first then tackle those allocation issues that will take years to solve. We do not have years to solve the immediate problem.

The GHL allocation problem, the floating abundance problem, the LAMPs issues, the idea that a sport caught halibut is more valuable than a commercial one, the IFQ idea, the ABC idea, the tier idea, and the general unfairness of it all can be addressed in time. We do not have time to take the slow approach to the immediate problem.

This not a hobby fishery to us. I resent the part timer who takes the heart out of the summer then goes back to their other profession. That type of charter operator treats this as a hobby. Their hobby cuts into our living. The more of them there are the more restrictions are going to be placed on us. Is that what you want, a hobby fishery?

The health of the resource is of paramount importance. We must insure that our near shore fishery stays healthy. If we are not good stewards there will be closures of certain areas to protect the fish from us. Kachemak Bay will probably be first. It is conceivable that the Barren Islands could become a preserve.

Maybe we could not unite behind an IFQ proposal but somehow we need to unite to stop the runaway growth of our fleet or soon our businesses will not be viable.

Sean, Gerri, Ben and Ethan Martin

North Country Charters

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Magnuson- Stevens act.

Fishery Conservation and Management Act

Public Law 94-265

As amended through October 11, 1996


To provide for the conservation and management of the fisheries,

and for other purposes.

J.Feder version (12/19/96)


Part 1
Part 2



(G) NORTH PACIFIC COUNCIL.--The North Pacific Fishery Management Council shall consist of the States of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and shall have authority over the fisheries in the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, and Pacific Ocean seaward of Alaska. The North Pacific Council shall have 11 voting members, including 7 appointed by the Secretary in accordance with subsection (b)(2) (5 of whom shall be appointed from the State of Alaska and 2 of whom shall be appointed from the State of Washington).


(1) The voting members of each Council shall be:

(A) The principal State official with marine fishery management responsibility and expertise in each constituent State, who is designated as such by the Governor of the State, so long as the official continues to hold such position, or the designee of such official.

(B) The regional director of the National Marine Fisheries Service for the geographic area concerned, or his designee, except that if two such directors are within such geographical area, the Secretary shall designate which of such directors shall be the voting member.

(C) The members required to be appointed by the Secretary in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (5).

(2) (A) The members of each Council required to be appointed by the Secretary must be individuals who, by reason of their occupational or other experience, scientific expertise, or training, are knowledgeable regarding the conservation and management, or the commercial or recreational harvest, of the fishery resources of the geographical area concerned. Within nine months after the date of enactment of the Fishery Conservation Amendments of 1990, the Secretary shall, by regulation, prescribe criteria for determining whether an individual satisfies the requirements of this subparagraph.

(B) The Secretary, in making appointments under this section, shall, to the extent practicable, ensure a fair and balanced apportionment, on a rotating or other basis, of the active participants (or their representatives) in the commercial and recreational fisheries under the jurisdiction of the Council. On January 31, 1991, and each year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House of Representatives a report on the actions taken by the Secretary to ensure that such fair and balanced apportionment is achieved.

Important names and addresses

United States Secretary of State:

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Fax: 202-647-2283
e-mail: (VERIFY)

United States Secretary of Commerce:

Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
Office of the Secretary – Mailstop 61
US Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

Phone: 202-482-2000
Fax: 202-482-2741

NOAA Fisheries:

William T. Hogarth
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East West Highway
14th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone: 301-713-2239
Fax: 301-713-1940

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens:

The Honorable Ted Stevens
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-3004
Fax: 202-224-2354
e-mail webform:

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski:

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
United States Senate
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-6665 Toll free (Anchorage) 877-829-6030
Fax: 202-224-5301
e-mail webform:

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Juneau Office:
Governor Sarah Palin
P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001

Phone: 907-465-3520
Fax: 907-465-5400

Anchorage Office:

550 W 7th Avenue
Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: 907-269-7460
Fax: 907-269-0263

A blog for sharing and gathering information.

I have created this blog for the use and enjoyment of those of you who would like a place to gather and share information. I will let you know the address and requirements for posting your own comments. I will get this up and running ASAP.
Thanks, gary