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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

If you coming to Alaska this summer, and have booked a halibut charter. They have made even harder for charter operators to survive.
Here is what I found.

ANCHORAGE -- Under newly released federal regulations, effective June 1, 2008 the daily bag limit for anglers fishing from a sport fishing charter vessel in IPHC Area 2C (all marine waters of southeast Alaska except Yakutat) is one (1) halibut of any size per day with a possession limit of two (2) halibut of any size. A charter vessel is a vessel registered by the State of Alaska and operated by a State of Alaska licensed sport fishing guide. They are easily identified by a green and gold decal attached to each side of the vessel. Anglers fishing from vessels other than registered charter vessels in Southeast can harvest two (2) halibut of any size per day with a possession limit of four (4) halibut of any size.
A charter vessel angler fishing in IPHC Area 2C waters may use only one fishing line; no more than six lines are allowed on a charter vessel fishing for halibut. Charter operators, guides and crew may not catch and retain halibut during a charter fishing trip. Newly released federal rules also require guides to record anglersÕ names and fishing license numbers in the charter vesselsÕ trip log book and for anglers retaining halibut to sign the log at the end of the charter vessel fishing trip.

All recording requirements for halibut annual limits in the 2008 Salt Water Logbook are no longer required. Charter operators do not need to record any information regarding annual limits for halibut.

These rules only apply to chartered anglers fishing in IPHC Area 2C. Anglers fishing from a sport fishing charter vessel in other areas of the state may continue to keep two halibut of any size per day. Sport anglers fishing from non-chartered vessels statewide may also continue to keep two halibut of any size daily.

Refer to the following NOAA web site for the News Release:

Questions regarding these new rules should be directed to the NMFS at 907-586-7228

These new regulations will remain in effect until further notice.


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33 Posts
It's the same story as usual - commercial take is raping the bottom and the sport angler is the one that pays the price.
The cost of fishing Alaska is not worth catching one or two fish.
There is only so much I will pay for mostly eco tourism trips.
I will have to start heading South to Central America.

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61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It was only a matter of time.:tu: Here is the latest update.

Southeastern charters successfully block 1-fish rule
SOUTHEAST HALIBUT: Restraining order keeps allocation debate alive.

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Published: June 11th, 2008 12:30 AM
Last Modified: June 11th, 2008 03:26 AM

The 15-year effort to divide Alaska's halibut catch hit another obstacle Tuesday as a federal judge blocked a new rule imposing a one-fish limit on Southeast Alaska charter boat anglers.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C., issued a temporary restraining order in a case brought by Southeast charter captains, who complained that the cut from two fish to one was driving away summer customers.

A court hearing on whether to extend the order has been scheduled for June 20.

The one-fish rule for the tourist-oriented Southeast fishery was the latest effort to curb the catch by the charter fleet, which has been exceeding a harvest limit set by the federal North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Commercial fishermen, who buy and sell quota shares for the bulk of the halibut catch, complain that unlimited growth of the charter industry has been eating into the value of their shares. The one-fish rule was imposed only in Southeast Alaska, where a decline in halibut has meant a 43 percent cut in the commercial harvest over the past two years.

The North Pacific council plans to resume work on a long-range plan for allocating halibut between the charter and commercial fishing industries in October.

Tuesday's ruling was based on a procedural question regarding the steps necessary before such a limit can be imposed on charter boats, said Earl Comstock, a lawyer representing the Charter Halibut Task Force, the group that brought the lawsuit.

Commercial longline fishermen contend the charter fleet should share in the conservation cutbacks required by federal fishery managers.

"The biggest disappointment is that they're using technicalities to contest something decided through a very lengthy and analytical public process," said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association in Sitka.

"The council has bent over backward to accommodate their request to have pre-season announced regulations," she said. "If this is an indication of how they're going to respond, regulators may decide they have to work under a hard allocation that closes them down in-season like everyone else."

But the charter boat challengers say a two-fish daily limit is the essential bottom line for a healthy charter industry, and the North Pacific council, dominated by commercial interests, has refused to look at it that way.

"This is not about conservation at all. This is all about allocation," said Comstock.

The rule raised concerns in Southcentral Alaska, where Homer and Deep Creek charter boats worried they might face a similar restriction someday.

"Commercial fishermen want the precedent that these guys can live with one fish," said Comstock. "If they can do it in Southeast, next it will be (Southcentral). Then why not all recreational fishermen?"

Federal lawyers argued in court that they had followed a long public process and met all the legal requirements to set the one-fish rule. Halibut are managed under the federal system rather than by the state. Under federal rules, which require environmental assessments and public review drafts, adoption of new regulations can stretch out for years.

There is even an international layer, with the International Pacific Halibut Commission in charge of conservation.

Charter boat harvest limits were set in 1998 and 2000 by the North Pacific council, based on historical pounds caught, with room for further growth. That "guideline harvest level" has been exceeded by the charter boats every year since 2004.

The charter industry itself has been divided over its growing catch. Some captains are concerned about unlimited growth and competition for a limited number of clients -- and a limited number of halibut within range of a day-charter. An effort to impose a quota share system on the guided fleet was nearly approved in 2005 but foundered in the face of objections, including those from newer charter captains.

The council is now weighing a moratorium on new charters, with 2005 being the cutoff date for entry into the fishery. It is also considering a plan where commercial fishermen could lease quota shares to charter boats.

Meanwhile the two sides continue a debate of numbers.

Charters argue they caught only 6.2 percent of the halibut caught off Alaska in the last 10 years and about 13 percent in Southeast. That compares with 75.8 percent taken statewide by the commercial fleet. Guides submitted affidavits in Tuesday's case claiming 11 plaintiffs had already lost about $500,000 in bookings because of the one-fish rule.

Commercial boats note that they've taken major cutbacks in catches over the past two years in Southeast, where 81 percent of the quota shares are owned by Alaska residents. They point to studies showing that 97 percent of the charter customers in the region were from out of state.

Comstock said the court ruling means that Southeast charter clients go back to the previous rule, which allows two fish per day as long as the second halibut is less than 32 inches long.

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