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Thread: Most recent chapter in the halibut drama

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default Most recent chapter in the halibut drama

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...-alaska-waters

    The most interesting drama from this story regards the lack of ownership of what I also viewed (correctly or incorrecty) as a "Council" document. Here's a direct link to the paper that Deckboss called a "debunker", it has the web address for the Council and does also say "prepared by NPFMC staff" at the top.
    http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfm...gpoints813.pdf

    Deckboss' brief story:
    http://deckboss.blogspot.com/2013/09...ring-plan.html


    But perhaps most of the apparent drama is because Medred carries forth a selective quote from Deckboss. He takes directly from Deckboss' last bullet in his article: "Assertions that the plan will mean a one-fish daily bag limit in 2014 for Southcentral Alaska charter anglers are unfounded". Why be selective here? I don't know..it's only a 2-page paper and the important qualifier is only a few short sentences away. Here's the full point:

    "Assertions that this management program establishes or will result in a one fish limit in southcentral
    Alaska in 2014 are unfounded. If the Catch Sharing Plan had been in place in 2013, the charter
    allocation would have been 18.3% of the combined catch limit in Area 2C (southeast), and would
    have resulted in continuation of a one
    fish bag limit in that area. In Area 3A (southcentral), the
    allocation would have been 17.5% of the combined catch limit for that area (slightly higher than the
    2012 harvest), and would have resulted in NO change to bag limits (i.e., the limit would have
    remained two fish of any size). Barring a significant reduction in halibut abundance in 2014, a twofish
    bag limit is expected to continue in Area 3A (southcentral)."


    I'm not sure what to make of this since I don't follow the issue closely on a day to day basis. I guess we'll have to see what kind of harvest levels we have going into the December Council meeting to know what we have to deal with. But the story shed light on a few options that might be getting kicked around if a cut in southcentral needs to be made. Personally, I feel that now the charter sector's potential for growth has been effectively limited via LLP, there's no need to cut their limit. If you're gonna feel the pain of the down, then it's only fair to share the gain of the upside and unless there's a mechanism to let them (charter anglers) have more than 2 fish a day when the biomass returns to the higher end of abundance ranges, then the commercial sector gets most (all?) the benefit of rebuilt halibut stocks.

    However, the article mentions that:
    The charters are floating other ideas for reducing the catch while maintaining a two-fish bag limit. Those could include:

    • Seasonal limits for anglers, similar to rules in effect for some king salmon fishermen;

    • One-day-per-week closures for charter operators;

    • One-trip-per day limits on charters;

    • Size restrictions on catch to allow charter anglers to continue to catch two fish per day. Size restrictions are already in place in Southeast Alaska.

    Now, before I leap to conclusions from Craig's article, I wonder if first bullet is intended to include all sport anglers (guided and unguided)? As I've mentioned before, if limits are going to come at the expense of unguided anglers, then the Council needs to broaden their audience. I said as much to the Council in public testimony more than a year ago, but they haven't made any additional effort at outreach beyond the charter sector folks they have been working with, so far. I apologize if I appear to be jumping to any conclusions here but does anyone know what the intent is here?
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

  2. #2

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    There is no plan to include recreational sport fishermen, last I heard. Which is unfortunate.


    Most of those "suggestions" are simply a band-aid to a much bigger problem. The issue is that breeders are disappearing at an alarming rate. Everything short of a slot limit for ALL anglers, would net zero results for actually fixing the problem. It does no good to put charters under a slot, only to have private sport boats catch those released fish a few days later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    There is no plan to include recreational sport fishermen, last I heard. Which is unfortunate.


    Most of those "suggestions" are simply a band-aid to a much bigger problem. The issue is that breeders are disappearing at an alarming rate. Everything short of a slot limit for ALL anglers, would net zero results for actually fixing the problem. It does no good to put charters under a slot, only to have private sport boats catch those released fish a few days later.
    good point, but then why have any angler toss it back to have a longliner catch it next.
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

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    Longliners are bound to a certain # of pounds they can catch. So, yes, they could catch that 120# halibut the charter just released. But, that deducts 120# from there IFQ. They are very limited and bound to that poundage. It's a very controlled fishery.

    To be honest with you, I'm not for cutting down AK families ability to catch 2 halibut a day, per person. I'd be for expanding the federal subsistence program, to include all AK residents, to some degree. It'd kind of be like the "personal use" limit for shellfish, and then the "sportfish" limit for shellfish.. I'm more concerned about non-residents, catching 2 a day, all summer long. And they do here in SE AK, and the numbers are just going to keep growing. The managers have zero idea how many are really being caught, and there is virtually no control over the #'s of them. Not to mention it's spawned a large amount of illegal charters here in SE AK. Non-residents need an annual limit on halibut, or they need the same limits as charters.

    Are we going to wait until it's a big problem?

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    270 I have seen you reference the folks catching 2 halibut per day all summer long. I guess I don't see this on my side so I have no way of knowing the issue you're trying to address. I obviously have a dog in the fight but I can assure you my self guided folks are NOT out there raping and pillaging the resource and crushing breeders. Do we get some lunkers each summer? Sure, but most are normal chicken butts.

    I think the way to address your issue is by an annual limit. I would be in favor of that for sure, lumping all other recreational anglers into the mix with charters isn't the right answer IMO.

    Who are these folks killing all these fish and where do they stay?
    Mike
    www.coffmancoveak.com
    Prince of Wales Island

  6. #6

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    Gooch. They have homes, stay in campgrounds, etc. I see them out there all the time. The amount of private boats is exploding out of my side of the island. Most of us are scratching our heads wondering where all these new boats are coming from.

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    Talked w/ a reliable source today who said that the annual limit concept being batted around (along w/other those other bullet list options from the article) was for guided anglers...and was just one of the options for charters to stay within GHL under the CSP, if needed.
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

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    We have some real issues to talk about yet no one does. 270 I am sure some guys catch a few halibut every day. Halibut are a Federal resource not state so they have every right to. I am NOT saying its good. If you are going to go to an annual limit it needs to be that way for everyone. Their catch makes up .002 percent of what is wasted via bycatch. What do you think needs to be addressed first?? Just curious what do you think the annual limit should be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    If you are going to go to an annual limit it needs to be that way for everyone.
    No it doesn't. Under federal subsistence regs, they can have different limits based on what community they are from.

    What's an reasonable annual limit for halibut? 4, 6, 8??


    Right now, the only "wide open", unregulated, unmonitored fishery is the private sport fleet. A private sportfisherman can LEGALLY catch and keep 131,600 lbs of halibut a year right now. (just an approximation, based on 329 days of fishing, 2 halibut a day, with a 200lb average) Sure it's hyperbole, but you get my point.

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    Got it 270, yea that makes sense would be pretty easy to kill a bunch. Luckily we don't have that issue here though the subsistence fishers are more of a problem than anything here. They need an annual limit IMO. What the hell would you do with that much halibut? THe boys in brown will be picking off a few more this winter is the word so that may help.

    Side note my lovely wife (13 years in Alaska) had never caught one over 40 pounds and was on a quest this September to get a big one. It took one trip of actually looking for big ones to get her a 70 incher, 175 or so. It wouldn't be too hard to crush them if you actually tried.

    Saw you had a great season over there, nice job on the fishes. When the kings roll in better over here I will give you a shout and we can go chase a few some day. Nothing better than a registration elk/king trip.
    Mike
    www.coffmancoveak.com
    Prince of Wales Island

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    Sorry I am at Council meetings and don't have much time....

    Annual Harvest Limits
    The Council considered enacting an annual harvest limit on anglers during its 2005 and 2007 deliberations. In 2005, the Council considered the effects of 6-fish and 5-fish annual limits in Area 2C only. The Council analysis estimated that these measures would reduce harvest by 7.0 to 8.3 percent and 12.2 to 13.7 percent, respectively. The Council did not consider the effects of an annual limit on anglers in Area 3A during 2005. In 2007, however, the Council considered the effect of an annual limit in both areas and added a 4-fish annual limit for consideration. In Area 2C, the effect of these estimates ranged from a 4.3 percent reduction for a 6-fish annual limit to a 16.4 percent reduction for a 4-fish annual limit. This estimated effect includes only the reduction associated with including client catch as the analytical status quo in Area 2C at the time included a ban on the skipper and crew harvest and there is a significant interaction between skipper and crew harvest and the effects of an annual limit. In Area 3A, the 2007 analysis estimated that the annual limits would reduce harvest between 10.7 percent and 15.3 percent. This estimate included the effect on client, skippers, and crew.
    Table 3
    Year
    2005 2007
    Estimated Maximum Effect of Annual Harvest Limits in Areas 2C and 3A
    Estimated Harvest Reduction (%)
    
    Area 2C
    
    6-Fish 5-Fish 4-Fish
    
    7.0-8.3 12.2-13.7 N/A 4.3 9.3 16.4
    
    Area 3A
    6-Fish 5-Fish 4-Fish
    N/A N/A N/A 10.7 12.9 15.3
    
    
    
    Source: (NPFMC, 2005a; Northern Economics, 2006; NPFMC, 2007a; NPFMC, 2007b)
    Note: Area 2C estimates for 2007 are “client only” estimates. The Area 3A estimates and the 2005 estimates for Area 2C include both clients and operators/crew.

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    On many Charters in 3a the Captain and crew keep their 2 fish each limit every day they fish all season long. A private guy with a 200k dollar boat paying large sums of money to maintain it while keeping 10- 12 limits a year must be stopped though? Since it's the feds controlling the Halibut I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down the entire fishery the way they are acting lately.

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    The rule will only apply to charter clients. Private boaters, as always will be free of regulation. Most charter captains in 3A do not catch their limit everyday. I don't know of any in Seward who would want to pay for that much fish or where they would store it. Most I know, and I know a lot.....Take what they can use. Some ship a box to their families and friends but the cost of doing that is prohibitive.
    I take a couple of fish for my family and thats about it.

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    In Homer Coal Pt, and Homer fish P due crew fish for free every day they pick up client fish. One boat had over 2000lbs of crew fish this year. The most I know of by one boat was over 3500lbs, but that was a few years back. 2nd day cuts on shipping cost and my families and friends paid for the shipping. It is time for no crew fish on any charter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    On many Charters in 3a the Captain and crew keep their 2 fish each limit every day they fish all season long. A private guy with a 200k dollar boat paying large sums of money to maintain it while keeping 10- 12 limits a year must be stopped though? Since it's the feds controlling the Halibut I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down the entire fishery the way they are acting lately.

    I agree 100% that it's ridiculous that captains and crew in 3a can keep fish every day. I remember a certain Capt on here bragging (and trying to drum up business) about giving his daily hali to his clients, because he "cared so much about them". We can't do it in SE, which is good, IMO. It'd be nice to keep about 5 a season tho for my freezer, but that's the way it goes.

    When we look at halibut, we need to be looking 5, 10, 20, and 30 years down the road, and be talking limits that will ensure a thriving fishery in the future. I know that I'll still be soaking a line in 20-30 years. I'd love to see halibut in my lifetime return to levels I hear about from the old timers, and not be stuck calling 12lb halibut "nice eaters", to keep people happy. If we returned halibut to a level where we could grab 30lb averages, closer to town, most charter operators would be booked solid all season long, and be making much more money as they wouldn't be taking really long runs. But, it's going to take some short term pain to make that happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gooch View Post
    Got it 270, yea that makes sense would be pretty easy to kill a bunch. Luckily we don't have that issue here though the subsistence fishers are more of a problem than anything here. They need an annual limit IMO. What the hell would you do with that much halibut? THe boys in brown will be picking off a few more this winter is the word so that may help.

    Side note my lovely wife (13 years in Alaska) had never caught one over 40 pounds and was on a quest this September to get a big one. It took one trip of actually looking for big ones to get her a 70 incher, 175 or so. It wouldn't be too hard to crush them if you actually tried.

    Saw you had a great season over there, nice job on the fishes. When the kings roll in better over here I will give you a shout and we can go chase a few some day. Nothing better than a registration elk/king trip.
    Word is that a bunch of heads will be rolling from the boys in brown and the feds this winter, down in my neck of the woods. Most being illegal charters.

    Nothing would make me happier than a king/elk trip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    On many Charters in 3a the Captain and crew keep their 2 fish each limit every day they fish all season long. A private guy with a 200k dollar boat paying large sums of money to maintain it while keeping 10- 12 limits a year must be stopped though? Since it's the feds controlling the Halibut I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down the entire fishery the way they are acting lately.
    Didn't say everything I wanted to when I first posted.

    Lets do the math on 10-12 limits of halibut, for 1 person. 12 limits*2 fish. 16lb average/2 for meat yield. That's a 192lbs of fillets for that 1 person. Not counting wife, kids, etc. Times that by a family of four and then you are getting a private boater making an impact. Sure their friends will love them, as they'll have more halibut than they can give away, but the stocks aren't in a place where that is a good idea, IMO.

    The issue we are facing is exactly the example you brought up. The private sportfishermen aren't fishing out of 18ft skiffs anymore, fishing within a mile or two of port. They are showing up with 200k boats and trawler grade electronics, and fishing right where the commercial/charter guys fish. Lots of private boaters now with better boats/electronics than most of the charter boats. And, every year we see an increase of these boats showing up. So the issue will become, are we doing ANY good by cutting back the charter/comm fleet (in the name of conservation), if private boaters will be coming in and catching what they can't keep? And it might not be a huge problem right now, but in 10 years it will be.

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    Maybe thats more common in Homer, in Seward the processor allows capt and crew 50 pound of fish processed for free, after that they pay for it.

    Nobody gets to do thousands of pounds in Seward. It is just not allowed and there is not freezer space. nobody gets deal on shipping either.

    I do remember Mutley saying that he gave his clients fish and was shamed on the other forum, by charter operators and private guys for doing that.

    The problem is we are a period of very low abundance and nothing is going to make 30 pounders be closer to home for many, many years....the charter fleet catches about 15% of the harvest, their clients harvest has dropped by nearly 40% without regulation changes. This is the same for the 3A private boat fleet which catches about 10% of the harvest. The average sized fish has declined in 3A from something like 24 pounds in 1996 to 12 pounds now. So in fact a 12 - 15 pound halibut is above average and in this world we live in..is in fact a nice eating fish.

    Captain and crew harvest is only about 10% of the 15% or roughly 210,000 pounds or less than 200 pounds spread out over each captain and crew member. Not neally every captain and crew limiting every day. That would be closer to 2100 per crew or ten times the reality.

    I don't think it is going to make a bit of difference in the quality of fishing if you eliminate capt and crew retention or if you eliminate charter fishing or sport fishing for halibut all together.

    But if it makes you feel better Captain and Crew harvest is automatically eliminated in the Catch Share Plan. After that Annual limits are likely on the table, followed by reduction of effort - either no half day trips or day of the week closures or shorted season.

    The solution is time. Every sector is making cuts in their harvest and the fish need time to recover. So get used to thinking a 12 pounder is a good eater because that is the world we are going to be living in for the next 5 years and really a couple of 15 pound halibut is a good day of fishing and provides a number of meals. Being someone who has invested their life and money into catch halibut both commercially and in the charter racket, I have to add, that even though we in a period of the lowest abundance of exploitable biomass of halibut since 1930....The fishing is pretty **** good and my clients have enjoyed a decent average and some really nice halibut mixed in. I would have thought at this level of abundance we wouldn't be able to catch two fish a day, but that is not the case and we don't generally kill any 12 pound halibut as part of our catch.

    Clem Tillion once said to me " The world is changing and nothing is ever going to be like it used to be"...... I think he was right.

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    The Homer chamber has made good progress, they got rid of the monthly big fish prizes that were killing multiple large fish a month and replaced them with more emphasis on tagged tish. Word is the catch and release raffle will be coming back also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    Didn't say everything I wanted to when I first posted.

    Lets do the math on 10-12 limits of halibut, for 1 person. 12 limits*2 fish. 16lb average/2 for meat yield. That's a 192lbs of fillets for that 1 person. Not counting wife, kids, etc. Times that by a family of four and then you are getting a private boater making an impact. Sure their friends will love them, as they'll have more halibut than they can give away, but the stocks aren't in a place where that is a good idea, IMO.

    The issue we are facing is exactly the example you brought up. The private sportfishermen aren't fishing out of 18ft skiffs anymore, fishing within a mile or two of port. They are showing up with 200k boats and trawler grade electronics, and fishing right where the commercial/charter guys fish. Lots of private boaters now with better boats/electronics than most of the charter boats. And, every year we see an increase of these boats showing up. So the issue will become, are we doing ANY good by cutting back the charter/comm fleet (in the name of conservation), if private boaters will be coming in and catching what they can't keep? And it might not be a huge problem right now, but in 10 years it will be.
    Well to explain a little further I took out family and friends during those trips and donated my catch to theirs in a lot of cases, sure it sounds like a lot for one angler but I am the captain and your looking at a high average. Those 10 or 12 trips were not just for me as the friends and family that joined me only come up for a week or so each year. If you average out to include the trips and combined Halibut per total anglers it would be less than 50lbs per angler.

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