Thursday, May 22, 2008

NOAA Reduces Halibut Catch for Southeast

NOAA Reduces Halibut Catch for Southeast Alaska Charter Anglers to Protect Stock NOAA’s Fisheries Service issued a new rule today that states starting June 1, charter vessel anglers in southeast Alaska will be allowed to keep one instead of two halibut per day. In addition, the number of lines used to fish for halibut must not exceed the number of anglers onboard the charter vessel, to a maximum of six lines. Also, guides and crew are not allowed to catch and retain halibut while clients are onboard.“These new regulations are needed because charter fishing has grown in southeast Alaska while the abundance of halibut has decreased,” said Doug Mecum, NOAA’s Fisheries Service Alaska region acting administrator. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA’s Fisheries Service approved the new regulations to reduce the harvest of halibut to the new target level of 931,000 pounds in 2008 in the waters of southeast Alaska, which is International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 2C. The new regulations will remain in effect until further notice.While the target harvest for southeast Alaska in 2007 was 1.4 million pounds, the actual amount of halibut harvested by charter anglers was estimated at more than 1.7 million pounds.Sport anglers who are not aboard guided charter vessels may continue to keep two halibut of any size daily. Guided charter vessel anglers outside of Southeast Alaska may also continue to keep two halibut of any size per day.A regulation implemented earlier this year to assist enforcement officers to count the number of fish each angler possesses, says anglers can cut their halibut on board into not more than two ventral and two dorsal pieces and two cheeks, all with the skin on.NOAA’s Fisheries Service received many comments on the proposed regulations for the charter vessel fishery. A summary of those comments and the agency’s responses will be published with the final regulations, which will be at

Secretary of Commerce to Rule on Charter Halibut Limits

Secretary of Commerce to Rule on Charter Halibut Limits
Washington, D.C. – May 21, 2008 – U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez is expected to decide any day on limits for sport-caught halibut off the coast of Alaska fishermen and the outcome could mean significant economic harm on the economy of Southeast Alaska coastal communities.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has asked the Secretary to approve a 1-halibut daily limit for Southeast Alaska only, while other areas of Alaska and Canada still have 2-halibut daily limits. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimates a 1-fish daily limit could result in up to a 30% reduction in angler demand in Area 2C—that’s 27,000 fewer people flying into Southeast Alaska coastal communities that rely heavily on sportfishing tourism. Even a 10 percent reduction could put a significant number of charter operators out of business.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Homer Charter Association Meeting 5/14/08

Subject: Questions and suggestions from Homer Charter Assn. meeting last night
Here are some answers to the questions posed at last night's meeting. I hope this helps.

1. Why do we collect information on clients that don't fish? This was a good question; best as anyone could recall, this was due to an interest in capturing economic information about the charter fleet. I'm still looking into this, and will let you know if I come up with a better answer.
2. Can we make the "Angler Name" box bigger next year?
Likely - this suggestion was recorded for future reference when designing next year's logbook. Without an annual limit in Area 2C next year, we can eliminate the "YTD Kept in 2C" column, and maybe condense the trip information on the left side.

3. Why the limits on the leasing provisions in the catch sharing plan?
The NPFMC analysis staff requested an explanation of this at the April meeting. here's an excerpt of the explanation was provided in the version of the state's motion that was distributed at the meeting. I'm guessing these are Jane DiCosimo's notes:
The commercial fleet supports tight leasing constraints in order to minimize disruption to their sector and not open up a leasing loophole. They are concerned about the 1500 pound level allowing for perpetual leasing instead of active participation in the IFQ fishery. The 10% leasing of individual quota holding limitation doesn't make sense from a business perspective. The average quota share holding in 3A is about 8,000 pounds; in SE it's between 3,500-5,000 pounds. the 1500 pounds was an attempt to balance out how many different people a charter operator would have to go to in order to secure a couple thousand pounds to augment their charter harvest. 10% was also used because of the IFQ 10% annual rollover provision.
There are a number of charter operators that also hold IFQ, usually less than 1,500 pounds. This language was crafted in order to attempt to provide equity between charter operators that already hold QS and those that don't. Commercial fishermen believe charter operators holding QS should be allowed to lease/use all their QS as GAF if they choose because they believe this will make approximately 200,000 pounds of IFQ available to convert to GAF. Community interests also got involved in the discussion. In 2C, so much of the QS is in such small blocks that a strict 10% limitation would be extremely cumbersome.
I also have a summary from the "Halibut Negotiating Group," (whatever that was), with "Points of Consensus not Discussed in the AP Motion" from 4/4/08. That summary contains the following bullet with regard to the leasing provision:
The GAF-leasing limits proposed for Area 3A are constraining; the Council may wish to expand the range of options to provide equivalent preservation of historic fishing opportunities as is provided for 2C.

4. Question about GAF fish being issued in pounds versus fish.
See Elements 5C and 5E of the state's motion, as well as discussion on pages 85-86 of the March 14 initial review draft of the catch sharing plan EA/RIR/IRFA. These clearly point out that leased IFQ is converted to numbers of fish for use as GAF, and converted back to pounds when unused GAF are returned to the IFQ holder.
The state's motion with regard to the catch sharing plan can be downloaded from the NPFMC web site: