okay so if you look at Alaska Dispatch or any references at the end of the Catch Sharing Plan thread in this forum, it is clear that the latest information we have indicates that the halibut stocks are in some trouble. Too many females being harvested commercially, fish are too small at age compared to historical records, localized depeletion. Suggestions by the foremost authority on halibut biology that the harvest in 3A needs to go from a high in 2004 of 21 million pounds to a level not seen since 1935 of 5 million pounds.... Clearly there is no simple answer why. The question I pose now is:
when is it appropriate to reduce the bag limit for all users for conservation purposes?
In my mind any fisheries management plan should include all directed fisheries, commercial, for hire, recreational , subsistance and certainly all fisheries that have by-catch as well.
It would seem logical to me that when fishermen choose to take charter have to reduce their harvest for LEGITMATE conservation reasons, then it would follow that the 33% of the sport harvest coming from private boats should mirror that reduction. Same goes for by-catch. If longliners, charters, subsistance and private boaters are all taking a 50% reduction then so too should the trawlers. I would think that there is a CEY number for each area where the halibut stock becomes "overfished" or a "species of concern" and at that point all sectors really have a moral imperitive to reduce their harvest until the stock becomes "rebuilt". I would like to hear rational arguments about this, as there is a Council meeting next week and again in Feburary and I suspect this discussion is going to need to be made at one of those meetings. Keep in mind that once a stock of fish is rebuilt, fishing should resume as it was before. That has been the case in other US fisheries like summer flounder, striped bass, Swordfish, etc.....