Halibut bag limit reductions?



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  • Halibut bag limit reductions?

    Time to start writing letters opposing a bag limit reduction to one fish.
    You have until Thanksgiving to let your voice be heard. This is a serous threat to your access to halibut!! Look below for the address!! A short paragraph demanding sportfishing access to this public resource will make a big difference.

    All charters must write a letter also or we will be running rockfish charters lke they do in Westport.

    The Following will be included in an upcoming newsletter being published by the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association.

    Commercial fishermen need to arrive in force at the December Council meeting in Anchorage, demanding that the Council:

    1. Take control of the fishery by implementing a one fish bag limit for charter clients;

    2. Establish separate accountability, ending the untenable taxing of the longline industry to pay for charter overages;

    3. Recognize that the charter moratorium will not address the on-going reallocation and that IFQs remain the best long-term solution.

    The Council has not yet published an agenda for the December meeting, but the meeting will be held at the Anchorage Hilton during the first full week of December. If you can not make the meeting (and you should try hard to be there) please send a letter to the Council demanding that the Council fulfill its commitment to manage the charter industry to the GHL until a long-term management strategy is implemented. Emphasize the three points above and include any personal statements about the impact of the charter overages on your business.

    Address your letter to Chair Stephanie Madsen, NPFMC 605 West 4th Street Anchorage AK 99501. Please write your letter soon; if your letter is received before Novermber 25th it will be distributed in advance of the meeting to all Council members.

    The Halibut Coalition, which ALFA chairs, has submitted a proposal to the IPHC calling for the one fish bag limit on charter vessels for the entire season in 2C and for the month of August in 3A. Data from previous Council analysis indicates this limit will reduce the 2C harvest by 40% and the 3A harvest by 7-10%. The proposal will be considered by the IPHC conference board at their December meeting. The jurisdictional issues become difficult to tease apart, but by making the request of both governing bodies all bases are covered.

    The Halibut Coalition also recently contracted with the McDowell group to compile a report on the economic impact of the commercial halibut industry in 2C and 3A. The report will be essential in the allocation battles ahead, and in educating various Chambers of Commerce on the economic importance of the longline industry. The report is expensive; please consider making an extra contribution to either ALFA or the Halibut Coalition (PO Box 22073 Juneau AK 99802 ) earmarked for the study. The investment is well worth it!

  • #2
    Background please

    Could you give a bit more background on this please? I believe I understand it but would like a little more info concerning the areas versus issues.


    • #3

      Area 2C is South East Alaska - Roughly from Ketchikan to Juneau to Yakutat

      Area 3A is from Kayak Island/Prince William Sound to Kodiak

      1 fish bag limit means that you will only be able to keep one halibut every 24 hours....


      • #4
        More questions. . .

        1) I take it then that Cook Inlet/Katchemak Bay are not included in this action?

        2) Also, how many charters in the affected areas are running late night trips so that clients can take two limits of halibut, one before and one after midnight?


        • #5
          Not many, I only know of a few out of Homer and haven't heard of any out of Seward although I would think there are some.


          • #6
            More questions. . .

            Thanks, yukon. . . I'd also like to hear back from AKCAPT on this. It may well be only a few charters running two-limit trips, but it only takes a few bad apples to spoil a barrel.

            Also, I can see two results of a one-fish limit: 1) Faster in-and-out for those charters specializing in quick turnarounds, and 2) more upgrading in search of one decent fish.

            Finally, we need to keep in mind that every fish taken from commercial long-liners and given to commercial charters is one less fish available to the public at large.

            Any thoughts, anyone?


            • #7
              discussion points

              The halibut fishery is under federal control and for commercial fisherman there is a system called IFQ (Individual fishing quotas). The fishery as I understand it is managed based on the allowable harvest. That harvest can and does change from year to year. There are three major fisheries involved - subsistence/tribal fisheries, sport fishery, and the commercial fishery. The harvest for each group is figured out prior to the season based on science and then allocated to the groups. An example of my understanding of how it is done follows.

              Lets say 10000 pounds of halibut can be taken in an area. The federal regulators first subtract the projected subsistence harvest (this is made up for this example -1000 pounds) which leaves 9000. They then substract the projected sport harvest (2000) which leaves 7000 pounds. Those 7000 pounds are then allocated to each individual fisherman based on the units of IFQ's they own. So if I own 10% of the total units my allocation would be 700 pounds.

              The issue in the fishery is that the charter sport fishery is growing at a fast rate and they are exceeding their allocation - in some cases by a high percentage - greater than 50% in some years. In this case the commercial and sport fisheries are adjusted the following year in determining the total allowable catch.

              So as the charter fishery grows unregulated the commercial fishery loses allocation and individual fisherman in the commercial fishery are losing money on their investment. The commercial industry has asked that the growth be limited and the harvest given to the sport fishery be maintained unless the regulatory body reallocates fish in a public process. This has resulted in all types of proposals - including an IFQ system for charter boat operators.

              So at this point the 1 fish bag limit for southeast that is being proposed is one way to keep the charter fleet in a more stable position relative to its allocated harvest and therefore slow the growth while the regulatory body figures out what to do.

              I am not taking sides on this as it is complex and involves all types of issues - both social and biological. However, it is not a simple write a letter opposing this or supporting that - it takes some research to understand the tradeoffs and what is best for the individual areas and industries.


              • #8
                And yet more. . .

                Nerka, your post raises questions in my mind. . . help me out. Especially where halibut are concerned, I have problems with the "sport/commercial" diffentiation.

                First, what is "sporting" about catching a halibut? It's rather like reeling in a sheet of plywood. It's a meat fishery, plain and simple.

                Second, why are long-liners called "commercial" and commercial charters not?

                In the end it seems to me to be a contest between:
                1) who gets to make money making a public resource available to consumers—charter boat operators or long-liners, and
                2) who gets to eat halibut—those with enough money to rent a charter (or locals with their own boats) or the general public, which must purchase their halibut in the grocery store.

                Where have I heard this tune before? Nor am I taking sides either. . . just trying to figure out what's going on. . .


                • #9
                  Here is my opinion on this issue. There was no issue until the commercial fleet went to IFQ's. Now they are fishing closer to shore and fishing the same spots that guided anglers as well as non-guided anglers fish. The commercial boats will come in and wipe out a charter boats spot in one set. In the old days the commercial fleet would go out farther in seach of the big catch and weren't fishing the average Joe's spots, not anymore.
                  So now they want to reduce the charter's take, I don't have the numbers in front of me but the commercial catch poundage verses the charter catch poundage is not even compareable. I am sure someone on the board has the numbers.
                  Also, if I remember correctly the sport and guided sport catch were about the same.
                  I know local opinion seems to count a lot on this board, lets see a poll on how many people favor going to 1 halibut.

                  If the limit goes to one halibut there will be a lot more catch and release and searching for big fish, who is going to spend $200+ to catch a 20lb halibut. I won't even take out my personal boat for one fish, $50 for a launch, plus gas and bait. A one fish limit would basically kill the sportfishing of Halibut IMO.
                  One bigger fish as in 40+ pounds is also a female fish. The biogical effects could be big.

                  Commercial fisherman fishing halibut closer to shore, does anyone who has been here longer than I remember when there were crab in Kachemak Bay? What happen to those?


                  • #10
                    Longer rides for fish....

                    I haven't seen any of the studies, however, over the last 50 years the boat ride to get over halibut has gotten longer and longer, so perhaps there is a viable reason for limiting the catch. When I was a boy we fished off the old Valdez dock for them, or, on or near the beach on the spit at Homer. Last year I ran an average of 30 miles one way out of Homer.

                    Question: Are they also reducing the Non Charter Commercial Fleet limit?


                    • #11
                      One fish blues...

                      "Give me only one flat fish, and I won't give you any of my business."

                      Some tourist is bound to say that to someone officious in government industry or in the tourism industry. Since those two areas lead Alaska in commerce (fishing is third), I doubt this is going to happen.

                      If it does happen, and data confirms a decline in tourism of any significant amount, it will undoubtedly be recinded...

                      "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


                      • #12
                        Does anyone have the Commercial catch verses the Sportfish catch poundage in the areas discussed?


                        • #13
                          I dunno about that. . .

                          yukon, got to confess I don't fish for halibut either, but my brother-in-law does and many friends do. The way I hear it, it's the commercial charter boats who are decimating the in-shore halibut fishery, not the long-liners. The few times I've been out over the past 15 years, don't ever recall seeing a long-liner, but I sure saw lots and lots and lots of commercial charters.

                          And as far as disparity of numbers between the allotments of long-liners and charter boats, don't forget the long-liners are supplying halibut to a whole lot more people than are charters. Think about those poor folks down in Texas or Kentucky that would like to eat halibut too. And, no, as I'm reading this, the long-liners don't want to reduce the charter boat catch, they want to keep it within alloted limits so that the unrestricted growth of the commercial charter industry doesn't end up depriving other consumers.

                          GEC1000: What is the Non Charter Commercial Fleet—the long-liners? If so, see Nerka's post above about how the amount of catch is determined and how it is then apportioned. According to Nerka's post, it is the commercial charters who are quite regularly exceeding their allotments.

                          AKAuthor: If it really were about "sport," one halibut would be enough. Hey, that's the way it is for kings, isn't it? But it ain't about sport, it's about meat.

                          Here we go again. . . it boils down to who gets the money. . .


                          • #14
                            Brainstorm. . .

                            Back again. . here's an idea that solves the problem in one fell swoop — catch-and-release!

                            Since the commercial charter boats are a "sport" fishery, just make it catch-and-release like the upper Kenai for rainbow, like what was wanted to be done to the first run of Kenai kings, and like what's being done on the Kenai and Kasilof and countless other Alaska rivers now. It's sport fishing, right?

                            Resident Alaskans could be given a Personal Use allotment per family. After that's filled, it's c&r too.

                            There are some details to be worked out, but there it is—a sporting solution for a sport fishery.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by yukon View Post
                              Now they are fishing closer to shore and fishing the same spots that guided anglers as well as non-guided anglers fish. The commercial boats will come in and wipe out a charter boats spot in one set.
                              Yukon - What do you base this statement on? I am a commercial longliner (and a sport fisherman) and in my experience and observations, commercial boats are going farther out now than we used to. Two sets of observations:

                              1 - My family has longlined for halibut out of Whittier since before I existed, in the early 1970s. Before IFQs there were LOTS of boats out there during the commercial openings. I remember the last few years of the derby-style seasons that we had a very difficult time finding a place to fish. 8-10 boats would cram into an area no more than a few miles wide. With this kind of pressure in every nook and cranny of the Sound (right next to shore, I might add), I guarantee that a huge percentage of the fish were wiped out in one fell swoop. Since the initiation of the IFQ system, however, there are far fewer boats participating in the fishery. In addition, the fishing pressure is more spread out in time and space, thus ensuring that large proportions of the population won't be taken at once. Also, the boats that still fish the area now fish farther off shore in areas that are more productive due to less competition and better weather. During the old early-May, late-September seasons the weather was often terrible, thus pushing all of the boats close to shore in waters more favored by the sport fishery.

                              2 - As far as Homer is concerned, there is no commercial fishing allowed anywhere near Kachemak Bay where the charter fleet concentrates. This past summer my father's boat was out of commission, so he hired a boat based in Homer to take him out to catch his quota. Although they could fish somewhat near shore and close to Homer, they ended up fishing just north of Afognak Island, where they were joined by a couple of other boats. I talked to a number of people about this, and this is the regular practice of the commercial fleet out of Homer (and Seward as well). The idea that they fish close to shore doesn't jive with my experiences and those of the people I've talked to. They have moved much further off shore since IFQs started, as the off-shore Gulf is more productive and they have the luxury of choosing good weather windows under the current system.

                              Incidentally, the above isn't to support either side of the argument. Just wanted to share my observations on the near-shore effect (or lack thereof) of longlining.



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