It seems as if the halibut charter boat fleet could solve virtually all their allocation problems by adopting the simple concept of catch and release fishing. I think they have deluded themselves, their clients, and the public to believe that they canít run a fishing business without killing millions of pounds of fish. I don't believe that.
There are thriving sport fisheries all over the world that function under catch and release fishing. It doesnít matter if itís by business practice or by law, but the angling public easily embraces the concept. Go chase sailfish in Costa Rica, marlin in Mexico, salmon in Russia, bonefish in the Bahamas, or trout in Bristol Bay , and youíll see the effects of catch and release fishing at work: the lodges are full, the guides work every day of the season, and the support service businesses thrive. These fisheries are only a handful of examples Ė there are many more.
So why donít Alaska charter boat operators get with the program? Why canít they see that they can have their cake and eat it too? Yes, there very likely will be a couple of transition years where client-anglers have to become re-educated that they arenít going to go home with hundreds of pounds of packaged fish product at the end of their trip, but predicting doom for the industry if charter boat anglers can't take their x million pounds of fish each year doesnít hold up in light of all the other sport fisheries that stand in stark contrast.