Monday, May 7, 2007

Latest Rights Based Halibut Charter Proposal

This is the latest offer from those in the industry that realize an individually controlled management plan is what is necessary to continue keeping harmony in the coastal communities between all halibut user groups and gives each charter business control on their business model and marketing.




The GAF program would replace the Moratorium program approved by the Council in April 2007. However, participants in the GAF program will be limited to those holding Moratorium Permits. The 2-fish daily bag limit or 2-day possession limit for charter anglers would remain in place. The GAF program could be implemented as early as 2010 if adopted by the Secretary of Commerce. Major features of this proposed program includes:
1. The action does not restrict non-charter recreational anglers. It only affects charter operations.
2. The action does not permit a charter operator to sell fish. Fish caught by charter clients belong to the client.
3. The halibut GAF program would be integrated into the existing halibut commercial IFQ program.

PREAMBLE: Due to the lack of halibut harvest recording on 2002 through 2005 logbooks, this proposal uses a business’s 2006 logbook for ground truthing earlier years by applying a formula to obtain an individual harvest rate (number of fish per angler day) based on the 2006 "verifiable" logbook. An individual's harvest rate derived from the 2006 logbook will be applied to the past logbooks days of bottom fish effort. This gives each business its own success ratio for determining their initial issuance of GAF.
Example: 1150 halibut harvested in 2006 divided by 620 halibut angler days = a ratio of 1.85 halibut per angler day.
Someone who was not as successful would receive a ratio that would reflect their efforts. Example: 750 halibut harvested in 2006 divided by 620 halibut angler days = a ratio of 1.21 halibut per angler day.
For someone with very little halibut effort, the same process would apply.
Example: 10 halibut harvested in 2006 divided by 7 halibut angler days = a ratio of 1.4 halibut per angler day.

2006 logbook data would be used to ground-truth past logbooks only. They would not be used for determining qualification for GAF, as the Control Date of December 9, 2005 would apply. The initial allocation (amount of fish) would be ascertained by the Council and has not been determined.


1. Charter allocations can grow over time through purchase of commercial QS. Initially issued GAF shares may not be transferred (sold) to the commercial sector.
2. GAF shares may be transferred within the charter sector. Commercial quota shares may be transferred to the charter sector. They also may be transferred back to the commercial sector. Restrictions on those commercial quota shares would continue to be applied while they are used in the commercial fishery. (Commercial QS would retain original designations when transferred back to the commercial sector.)
4. Twenty percent (20%) of GAFs (a GAF is the amount which can be harvested in any one year based on a person’s number of GAF shares multiplied by the charter quota) may be leased within the charter sector for the first three years of the program.
5. A small percentage (2, 3 or 4%) of GAF shares will be set aside for underdeveloped Gulf coastal communities to develop additional charter operations (the Council will identify those communities who are eligible for developing new operations. Details of the program will be determined in a subsequent action).
6. GAF will be issued to a charter vessel owner, or to a person who leased a vessel from an owner. A Moratorium permit will be required for participation the GAF program, but once the GAF program is fully implemented the Moratorium would sunset.
7. A GAF share use cap of 1 percent in Southeast Alaska and 1⁄2 percent in South Central Alaska as well as a cap of 1⁄2 percent for both areas combined is proposed, however, anyone who is initially issued quota shares above those levels would be grandfathered into the program at their qualifying level and in years of low abundance, would be able to buy-up to their original grandfather level.
8. A delay of one year between the issuance of GAF shares and fishing under the GAF program to allow for GAF holdings and customers to be synchronized.
9. GAFs would be issued in numbers of fish (compared with pounds in the commercial program) to allow current fishing practices to continue using ADF&G area (3A, 2C) averaging for fish weight.
10. An agency and charter industry committee will develop an implementation plan to address reporting, monitoring, and enforcement.
11. The Council is an advisory body to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which manages Pacific halibut in State and Federal waters off Alaska jointly with the International Pacific Halibut Commission under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982.

Proposed by the Alaska Halibut Charter Fleet
April 12, 2007
Incorporate a Guided Angler Fish (GAF) program from the charter sector into the existing commercial halibut IFQ program. IFQs and GAFs are an access privilege, not an an ownership right. They may be revoked or limited at any time in accordance with the North Pacific Halibut Act as well as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other federal laws.
GAF halibut may not be sold into commerce - i.e., all sport regulations remain in effect.

Issue 1. Qualification Criteria: Persons holding a halibut Moratorium Permit would qualify for the GAF Program

Issue 2. Distribution of GAF may be based on:
1. Applying the harvest rate (success rate) determined from the 2006 logbook (number of fish/angler/day in 2006) to the past logbook number of angler days of bottomfishing effort. This gives each boat its own rate. Example: 750 halibut harvested in 2006 divided by 500 clients = a ratio of 1.5 halibut per angler day. 2006 logbook data would be use to ground truth past logbooks only.
2. Qualifying years:
Option #1: Pick the 3 best years from 1998 to 2005 ADF&G logbooks and average the number of bottomfish days. If a charter has only 2004 and 2005 logbooks then a “0” for the third year would be averaged in. In years of recorded harvest only the effort would be used, not the halibut listed.
Option # 2: Pick the 2 best years from 2002 to 2005 of the ADF&G logbooks and average the number of bottomfish days. If a charter has only 2004 or 2005 logbooks then a “0” for the 2nd year would be averaged in.
Option # 3: The Charter business would receive 90% of the average the 2004 and 2005 year logbooks bottomfish effort. Then a charter would receive 20% of the 10% not distributed for each year of participation prior to 2004: Example: If a Charter business has been in business from 1995 and is still currently qualified in the Charter Moratorium then he would qualify for the 5 years from 1999 to 2003 at a rate of 20% of the 10% not distributed for each year of participation. This could result in this business receiving slightly more than 100% of the charter pool.
Option # 4: Pick the best year of recorded bottomfish effort from 1998 to 2005 of the ADF&G logbooks.
Option # 5: Average of 2004 and 2005 logbook bottomfish effort. If a charter has only 2004 or 2005 logbooks then a “0” for the 2nd year would be averaged in.

Harvest rate is determined at the boat level, or logbook level, which are the same.
Each business will be issued their number of fish resulting from formula above and the charter GAF holders will be included in the existing commercial halibut IFQ program.

Issue 5. Transferability of GAF Shares (permanent) and GAFs (on annual basis [leasing])
GAF is non-leasable to the commercial sector
GAF transfers:
1. Initially issued GAF is fully transferable within the charter sector.
2. For purposes of transfer to commercial sector, 100% of an individual’s initially issued charter GAF is permanently nontransferable
3. Commercial QS purchased by charter operator is fully transferable (two-way) across sectors and retains original commercial designations.

GAF leasing:
1. 20% of a charter operator’s annual GAF is leasable within the charter sector for the first 3 years of the program.
2. Leasing is defined as the use of GAF on a vessel which the owner of the QS has less than a 50% ownership interest.
3. 10% of a holder's GAF may be leased to the commercial sector.
Block restrictions
Allow splitting of commercial blocks to transfer a smaller piece to the charter sector - split blocks retain original designations.

Vessel class restrictions:
From A, B, C, and/or D commercial vessel category sizes to charter sector, except that no charter business may own or control more than 1 “D” category block equal to or above the sweep-up level.

Issue 6. To receive halibut QS and GAF by transfer: For the charter sector, must be a halibut Moratorium Permit holder

Issue 7. Caps
1. Use cap for charter GAF owners only of 1 percent of combined QS/GAF units in Area 2C and 1⁄2 percent of combined QS units in Area 3A (for all entities, individually and collectively) and grandfather initial issuees at their initial allocation.
2. Use caps for charter GAF owners only of 1⁄2 percent of combined GAF units for combined Areas 2C and 3A (for all entities, individually and collectively) and grandfather initial issuees at their initial allocation

Issue 8. Miscellaneous provisions
1. 10% underage provision of total GAFs.
2. A one-year delay between initial issuance of GAF and fishing GAFs.
3. Halibut harvested aboard a charter vessel continues to be the property of the angler who caught the halibut provided the charter owner possesses sufficient GAF.

Issue 9. GAFs associated with charter quota shares may be issued in:
Numbers of fish (based on average weight determined by ADF&G)

Issue 10. Reporting:
The Council defers design of the reporting and enforcement strategy to a GAF technical implementation team, comprised of agency and industry. It is the intent of the Council that a more comprehensive reporting system will address the following items. The Council has noted in the past that ADF&G logbooks would not be considered sufficient for monitoring and that the team should consider fish tags and other reporting systems suggested by industry.
1. More timely, verifiable reporting of catch;
2. Enforcement concerns;
3. More accurate geographic referencing of catch location which provides for analysis of halibut harvest in LAMP districts.

Issue 11. Community set-aside (revised)
1. Set aside 2, 3, or 4% of the combined commercial and charter halibut quota to communities with 1 percent annual increases if utilized, to a maximum of 4 percent.
2. Source of the set-aside: Equal pounds from the commercial and charter sectors.
3. Sunset provisions: 5 years (starting in the first year of issuance). Persons currently participating in the set-aside program at the time of sunset would be allowed to operate within the guidelines of the program.


Stakeholders Committee will have further work to do on this proposal at the October, 2007 meeting and will present this to the council at the November or December, 2007 meeting.

Other proposals for a permanent solution are also being considered


mark said...

Great work, so far! I'm behind this. Get this in with a tide of backers (everybody, now, COME ON!) and we can pick nits later (I'll grit my teeth about Montgomery coming out smelling like a rose).However, the tag idea means turning the spit into an even more fetid atmosphere than it is. If a boat hits the dock with a different number of fish than are logged, keel haul the captain but please keep the tag idea from their heads. Also, as much as I hate to see my daughter's fish count against me, I think it is imperative to prevent the "friend factor", wherein everybody's boats seem to be full but they are reported as only half so. I overheard an orientation one time; "At least ONE of you has to buy a derby ticket." (I'm not going to say his name but, Bob, he's the one we talk about all of the time...)If a slime-ball will cheat in the derby, he'll cheat when it comes to this. Every fish on board has to count. Maybe I missed it - is this addressed?

CaptBob said...

If every fish being offloaded has to have a tag either around its tail wrist or through its gills then we can see real easy if all fish are tagged and accounted for. All members of the public will be looking at the tags and asking "what is it?" Keeps everyone more honest. The tags could be printed at the beginning of the season, issued to each GAF holder, and then if I need six and you want to lease them to me, just hand me the tags, next year you would still get them again, I can only use them this year. Color changes each year, maybe each holders GAF number would be printed on them so if you get robbed, someone may see them and save you. Simple and very evident to all.

mark said...

There ARE some positive aspects, to be sure - I just don't like the idea of bringing every last carcass home. Most are not going to make a run outside the harbor every night to pitch 'em, so unless we do like some now do, dump the disgusting things the following morning, the harbor is going to get ripe!

mark said...

What do Sean, Gary, Dave and others on bigger boats think of this? Am I the odd man out? Many six-pacs bring their fish home anyway, I think. What happens when my deckhand lets a carcass fly out of habit and I have fillets but no carcass? IFF we do go to tags, they had better be lightweight plastic or paper so that they don't become projectiles - I used to book Jack Durham on the Born Free before Tim bought it and he tryed laundry pins like we used on salmon in Westport and I guess it got pretty bad with chipped gelcoat, teeth, etc..

CaptBob said...

Probably beginning next season we will all have to either bring in the fish whole or bring in the fillets and the carcass they came from to PROVE we have 1 fish under the 32 inch requirement. This is what is happening in SE this year, no way around it, due to the GHL being exceeded and the GHL catch reduction measures we must face in absence of another plan. The GAF will only require the same proof that we will have to meet anyway under the GHL. The City wants your money, for carcass grinding too!!! At least they were looking ahead when they built the grinder.

David said...

Mark I wrote the NMFS protesting changes in area 2C among them being bringing carcass back in the harbor only to have to burn more fossil fuel to take them back out and dump them. Identification of 32 fish or 128 filets poses enought problems without compounding it with 32 carcasses which have to match with the filets. We use color zip ties at about $.07 each for positive customer/fish ID but no you are not the odd man out. I give the city plenty of money and I for one won't be paying for the grinder but will burn fuel to dump mine outside the harbor until that gets to be a 3 mile limit or worse...

mark said...

If we have a size limit, why not a minimum size to get rid of the half days?I hope to never give the city a dime for grinding fish. Maximum size fish, fish in the round - It's as if, specifically, I will be the target. I would rather see a sixty day season ala Sutter than a maximum size. If you ever need help on the biology of why Murphy-sizing is folly let me know - I'd like to have your support on this. Also,I´m not in business to support Buttwhackers learning how to fillet nor donating to the city and tho my way of life is eroding, I'm not going to just sit back and let others mold it into their personal ideal - I did that once before. If any care to hear my opinion BEFORE I go off, try

mark said...
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mark said...

The silence is resonating. Sean, how do you feel about bringing home proof? Gary, how do you feel about throwing back nice fish and sorting for small ones? Dave, I know you don't want to deal with totes of chickens until ten at night! Where's Tim on this? You gonna dump a couple of hundred fish a day on Garth and walk away? Many of you are so abashed at making waves that the dead air stinks almost as much as the funky fish flybait that's going to bury the spit if you don't voice an opinion. Many six-packs already bring their fish back and don't care where the gutpile ends up so its up to inspected boats to apply the compelling influence. When the time comes, please don't glaze over this issue, Bob, it's important to me and, I'm sure, many others.

CaptBob said...

No Glazing over anything, we got screwed in 2005 by the council and now we have to play this as it comes to us until something else is approved by the council. The GHL has been exceeded, we knew it would be in 1997 when they approved it and we offered a way out of this. We didn't get it signed and now we are back at the GHL and we are being regulated as "one size fits all" and we will soon be regulated into being a common charter equation for all. Marketing wil be gone, it will be a "if you have room run 'em through" type business. I feel the Derby has to go because we are fishing ourselves out of fish by bringing in bigger fish (it raises the average size) and puts us into less marketable products (1 anysize and 1 chicken) or a shorter season. Life on earth and sometimes it isn't fair. No way around it. I don't see more fish falling from heaven and I don't see any of us quitting because of this. We are rats on the same ship, and it is sinking. Has anyone ever offered releif to the shrimp trawlers or dungy crabbers when they went out? Down we go.

mark said...
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mark said...

Sometimes you get almost as pessimistic as me, Bob!
I feel the derby has to go, too but for a different reason - I want to replace it with our own, as we should have from the beginning.
Sean is probably the only other that remembers that the derby was started by the Homer Charter Association (a little Al Gore-esque here but I was intrumental in starting the derby with Dan Gorham because Rescue Twenty-One wasn't doing a good job with theirs and we talked Jane into running with it (Geri, Ken, and Donna, I think, worked on it, too, but I didn't DO anything other than Kibbitz) everyone was dissapointed when we ceded the derby to the Chamber because Jane said we couldn't legally do it) and the Chamber was only brought in for its non-profit status.
Since, because of natural attrition of Chamber employees, they are always new compared to us and will always cater to new charters buying them lattes and donating buttloads of time. They proved how much we mean by screwing us on the IFQ issue for no other reason than to show solidarity with new businesses. I am a member when feeling altruistic, but besides for the winter derby, I have not gotten a client from there since my first wife donated time there eighteen years ago. I've been on commitees. I've been a cheerleader for the derby. I've shoveled snow from the derby booth. But the Ultimate, The Sea Flight, the Ashtikan, and the Winter King have profited. WTF.
We've disagreed on many things before, Bob, but I don't believe us taking big fish hurts the fishery at all. In fact, without the mystique of huge halibut, they are nothing but a flat cod and we would have no fishery. Homer was not built on shorebird festivals or mediocre food and "art" and the year we downplay big fish is the year we all better look for a new line of work.
Look at SAC (Sportfishing Association of California) and how they are organized enough to own fuel docks and bait concessions with fewer members than we have potential for here. Do you think they pay their Chambers to stab them in the back? No, my guess is that they OWN them!
As soon as the Chamber downplays big fish with a "target weight" halibut instead of jackpot for biggest, I suggest that the void will allow us to slide right in and make the money we should have been from the beginning. If we had done this before, and spoke with one powerful voice, we would probably have IFQ now.

mark said...

Hate to bury this gem here but I still can't make original posts. I was blessed with a new son, Mateo (Mathew), on Monday. I took him over to Puerto Vallarta on Wednessday and tho it took a little work, I'm confident he can already outfish Murphy! In short order, he'll have more experience, too...
See you guys in a couple of days!