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Thread: At what point does conservation trump bag limits for private boaters?

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Default At what point does conservation trump bag limits for private boaters?

    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.....

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    Thanks AKCAPT.

    First lets make it clear that recent charters restrictions are not a result of stock decline, but rather charter allocation issues...exceeding GHL, taking allocation from other sectors, outgrowing the fishery, etc. The Federal Register explains that. Those restrictions have been coming down the pipe for decades, long before any stock decline - as evidenced by the Federal Register's warnings dating back to the early 1990's. So I think it is wrong to confuse and associate recent charter restrictions with stock decline.

    As for conservation measures due to stock decline....of course all sectors should share in the burden, asap. The issue then becomes one of "fair and equitable", not necessarily "even and equal". Alaska's social-economic characteristics are very unique, diverse, and complex. I don't believe "even and equal" would work. We need to look to the critera and principles already established in our fishery laws, perhaps applying them more area-specific.

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    AKCAPT.

    I think you and some others have it about right. Attach the GHL to the comm harvest average over the last 5 years and bycatch and yes sport anglers too. Then any cuts should be made at the same percentage or even a stepped percentage like a higher cut for user group taking the largest amount of fish to group taking the least amount. Like 50 40 30 20 percent. That might be a way to change the over allocation to the longliners at the start of the IFQ's

    Keep up the good work Andy!

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    That's like saying lets use the stock decline as a moniker to reallocated more halibut to charters, and then cut the sectors serving the majority of citizens more than the sectors serving the fewest citizens. Yeah, keep up the good work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampyfishes View Post
    That's like saying lets use the stock decline as a moniker to reallocated more halibut to charters, and then cut the sectors serving the majority of citizens more than the sectors serving the fewest citizens. Yeah, keep up the good work.
    I am not necessarily an advocate for one group over another, but I'm skeptical of the claim that the largely industrialized commercial fishery group truly serves "the majority of citizens", vs. smaller localized users.
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    I am not suggesting that any reallocation occurs as a result to reducing harvest in the name of conservation. the biggest problem with the charter allocation is that is has not been explained very well. We have to compare the total CEY to the fishery CEY and then convert what was once our allocation to what is now our allocation and frankly I am confused. What we can just say the charter industry has caught a specific number of pounds each year over the last 8 year and the average of those catches is xx,xxxx pounds. That is going to be the charter allocation, now linked to a declining abundance. When that number goes below another specific amount we go to a one fish limit until the CEY goes back up. Same for the sporties and same for the trawlers. Seems to make too much sense.
    As for the stock market analogy....it used to make sense when you simply invested in a company that you belived would do well and make a good profit. now with the shadow market of derivities, futures and all manner of speculating on someone else's speculations....It is as complicated as ...welll....allocating fish.....

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    I'am just saying that if you did 80 percent of the damage you should take a larger percentage cut. Grampyfishes with this big of a hit no one should get a free pass even private anglers like you and I. I would love to see a annual limit of 4 halibut for nonresidents and 10 for residents!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    I'am just saying that if you did 80 percent of the damage you should take a larger percentage cut. Grampyfishes with this big of a hit no one should get a free pass even private anglers like you and I. I would love to see a annual limit of 4 halibut for nonresidents and 10 for residents!

    Its a federal resource so they are owned by the people of the US so why should any one get more based on where they live?

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    kgpcr, why should a person on a charter boat only get one halibut under 37" and if you are on a private boat you get two fish of any size? We have diffrent limits for kings in southeast now for res and nonres, and the feds can let the state regulate sport harvest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    kgpcr, why should a person on a charter boat only get one halibut under 37" and if you are on a private boat you get two fish of any size? We have diffrent limits for kings in southeast now for res and nonres, and the feds can let the state regulate sport harvest.
    MGH55 the thing about the charter vs private is not a good point. in fact it bolsters my comment. If you are a resident on a charter you limit is the same as a NR. also if i am a NR on a private boat my limit is the same as yours.

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    So it's ok to be a pig on a private boat, but only with halibut but not kings? We have a salmon treaty with Canada that is just as strong as the IPHC agreement. I know apples and road apples

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    If staying within the law and taking two halibut makes me a pig then i am a swine. I have never fished the SE so for me its a moot point. Also i choose not to fish kings in the salt or the rivers as the runs are not where they need to be. I do care about the resource very much. I just would not feel right taking a king out of the salt knowing we need then on the gravel. Thats my choice and i dont fault anyone for taking kings out of the salt.

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    Everybody is going to have to take huge cuts for 3a to make 5 million pounds. It's not going to be pretty. I suspect charters will be at limits that the SE fleet is at. Privates will need to be cut way back too until things improve.

    The slogan of the Halibut Coalition is: Commercial fisherman and processors: Feeding the world sustainably! Good for them. Big sacrifices will have to be made to make that industry sustainable.

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    270ti, If I may read between the lines, are you saying that this could be ploy? No could it be because the CSP was sent back? when the charter halibut permits drop to $10,000 I might buy two.

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    Personally I don't think we are are going to see a FCEY of 5 million or even 8 million. I think Dr. Hare is embarassed that his prior assumptions were not right and that he is now protecting himself as much as the halibut. I would bet that after this years reduction, there will be signs of improvment and maybe one more cut to 10 million and it will turn around. The 5 million was the "doomsday" scenerio and we are not there yet. Shoot halibut fishing is still super productive and there are plenty of nice ones if you know how and where to catch them. Heading up the Council meeting today.......................

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    It'll be interesting. My understanding is that Hare is a quantitative scientist. He comes up with the models/formulas based on the info given to him from the biologists out pounding the water. His models are only as good as the numbers he can plug into them.

    I really like the stuff he was doing on the effects of effects of the trawl fleet killing the juveniles that have a SE migration down into SE AK. I think once they really get a handle on that, they'll see the true effects of bycatch.

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    Default ...then let's truly tie it to abundance.

    Since AKCAPT posted the question as the hypothetical, “at what point…”, here’s my hypothetical answer.

    I’ll say unguided harvest should not be reduced unless it interferes with the amount needed for subsistence.

    IF the other sectors are now aiming to take from the private, unguided angler (or, ahem, “share in the burden” so their allocations will be reduced less), then let’s go ahead and truly tie unguided bag limits to abundance. Along with that comes increased bag limits at higher levels of stock abundance (3 or more fish/day) and not simply a return to 2 fish.

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    I'm with MrFish on this. The private angler takes the least amount of the resource so should it be needed, to be cut back, they should be cut back the least. Then in times of abundance, the sports fish share should rise proportionally.
    Now you all know I'm a strong proponent of dipnetting but if I could, I would rather eat Halibut 3 times a week. Looks like both the Commercial and Charters will drag the private sports angler into this mess when we are the smallest user group. I can only afford two trips a year for butts so that doesn't leave me much in the freezer come winter. I sometimes beg friends for a nice package of that white gold. I'm not too proud to beg when it concerns Halibut!!!!
    I don't see many people reacting to this unless of course you are down at the meeting already. Sure hope someone speaks up for the little guy!!!
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    I'm with MrFish on this. The private angler takes the least amount of the resource so should it be needed, to be cut back, they should be cut back the least. Then in times of abundance, the sports fish share should rise proportionally.
    Now you all know I'm a strong proponent of dipnetting but if I could, I would rather eat Halibut 3 times a week. Looks like both the Commercial and Charters will drag the private sports angler into this mess when we are the smallest user group. I can only afford two trips a year for butts so that doesn't leave me much in the freezer come winter. I sometimes beg friends for a nice package of that white gold. I'm not too proud to beg when it concerns Halibut!!!!
    I don't see many people reacting to this unless of course you are down at the meeting already. Sure hope someone speaks up for the little guy!!!
    Post some numbers, like exactly how many pounds of halibut are being taken by private anglers in 3a. How many pounds do you consider to be biologically insignificant?

    The little guy has gotten a free pass so far. 2 a day limit, no size limit, long seasons, no annual limit, no reporting obligations, no GHL, etc. Now you want a free pass on conservation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRFISH View Post
    Since AKCAPT posted the question as the hypothetical, “at what point…”, here’s my hypothetical answer.

    I’ll say unguided harvest should not be reduced unless it interferes with the amount needed for subsistence.

    IF the other sectors are now aiming to take from the private, unguided angler (or, ahem, “share in the burden” so their allocations will be reduced less), then let’s go ahead and truly tie unguided bag limits to abundance. Along with that comes increased bag limits at higher levels of stock abundance (3 or more fish/day) and not simply a return to 2 fish.
    I don't agree with that. You need to understand exactly what Dr Hare is talking about. Right now they don't know what is happening to the breeders. They are disappearing at an alarming rate from 3a. This isn't an allocation war. Nobody is going to be protected except fed subsistence. This is a conservation issue. The breeders must be protected at all costs. The breeders include all halibut over 30lbs.

    If I were king for a day, I'd implement these measures, until the halibut stocks returned to a safe level:

    1. Make a reverse slot limit for private boaters in 3a. You can keep halibut under 30lbs, and over 200lbs. Let the 30-200lb breeders live. Encourage the taking of smaller halibut, which will be both males/females.
    2. Establish a GHL to private sport anglers, tied to historical harvest, and then adjust to match the current abundance.
    3. Have every sport boat have it's own log book, with weekly reporting obligations, including halibut measurements.
    4. If the private sport fleet reaches it's GHL, close the season. Done.
    5. Have the sport halibut fishery closed 1 or 2 days a week during the week, to prevent those without jobs (retired) or plenty of vacation time from eating up the ghl before the weekend fishermen have a shot at the resource.

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