I just finished reading the latest banter back and forth about commercial versus charter industry.
Here is what we know...or we think we know:
Cutting the limit down to 1 fish
A. Fewer people will pay $225-$300/trip for a chartered trip, resulting in charter businesses going out of business.
B. Businesses that support the charter industry will go out of business
C. Will yield a lower harvest for the charter industry
D. Make the lawyers rich because of the never ending lawsuits.
Creating a Quota for the Charter Industry
A. Those who have fished will retain, those who want to get in won't be able to unless they have a lot of money to purchase the Quotas from existing Charter operators
B. Will cap the amount of fish that can be caught for both commercial and charter industries.
C. Create a monopoly in the charter industry that doesn't exist now. (or does it?)
D. Again make the lawyers rich because of the never ending lawsuits.
What are your proposals that help conserve the resource and allow it to replenish itself with out cutting the limit for chartered sportfish anglers or creating a quota system for the charter industry?
I like the idea of what the Kenai River Sport fishing Assoc. is/was doing... giving the angler who catches a King larger than 50" up to $800.00 for a mount if they let the big fish go. They can still catch a smaller king for meat if they like, but let the big one go.
Can the halibut charter industry do something similar?
Here is my proposal.
When a sportfish angler on a charter boat catches a halibut equal to or larger than 60"/100lbs the fish is to be released.
The charter boat industry and the commercial industry will be asked to pay a small fee or tax if you like to provide funds to purchase commercially caught halibut, which will be purchased at 70% of the going rate the commercial fleet gets when they sell it on the docks. (We all know those fees will be passed on to the customers/consumers anyway)
The angler is to be rewarded by receiving 50lbs (50% of whole weight of a 100lb fish) of fresh/processed halibut meat. If the photo opportunity is an issue, then advise the anglers on the dock to take pictures of the fish in the water as it won't come out if it is over 60" The angler will go home with meat and the breading stock stays in the water. The angler will be responsible for the processing fees associated with packaging etc. as if they killed their 60"+ fish and took it back to the dock.
Their limit will be reduced by only the one fish, and they will be allowed to catch their second fish if they haven't already.
If the fish caught/released was over 72" or 200lbs the angler would receive free packaging
This idea does the following things:
Allows the sportfish anglers to go after two halibut as they do now thus giving them the feeling they aren't blowing $200-$300 on one fish
Allows the charter industry to self regulate as the market/economy dictates.
Reduces the pressure from Charted/sportfishing on the breading stock of the halibut.
Allows both sides (commercial/charter) to contribute to the solution by either providing the meat at a reduced cost or paying a small tax to pay for the meat.
Allows the supporting business to chip in (processing/freezing) to keep their businesses open.
We all know that halibut over 100lbs have grainy meat (this isn't an absolute statement, but a general rule of thumb), so why not let them go and allow them to work on replenishing the stock.
Also, before you shoot bullet holes into this idea, please think of some way of making it better, or instead of opening fire on it, just let it be and add one of your own.
Bickering back and forth between commercial/charter industries is getting us no where. And in the end, it is pitting us against each other. Most of us here love to fish, some do it for sport, some do it for a living...but if we don't cut the BS and come up with a solution that works for all, then we are going to piss it away like the Washington and Oregon fisheries have.
Future generations depend on us figuring this out.
And for the record, my second year (2006) of halibut fishing I did catch a 238lb halibut. Yes I kept it, not realizing the issue we have at hand. Yes it will be my last fish kept over 100lbs.