Current weather

  • Clear sky
  • 21°
    Clear sky
  • Comment

Halibut war

Posted: August 26, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: August 26, 2011 - 10:25am

Homer and Seward received notice earlier this year that they were in the top 10 of 300 towns nominated for “Ultimate Fishing Town USA” by the World Fishing Network (WFN). Nowhere in the announcement did it mention the war being fought over halibut, the fish that made Homer the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” Nowhere did it mention that a possibility exists that the present two-fish-per-day limit for halibut might soon be cut in half, or that the maximum size might be limited to 37 inches, or less.

If you’ve been at all interested in fishing for halibut — as opposed to buying them from a store — you know that charter-boat owners have been fighting for their livelihoods in recent years. The hubbub was instigated by commercial long-line fishermen, who dominate the entire regulation-making process. The federal government now has set guideline harvest limits for charter boats fishing for halibut in Alaskan waters and has reduced the number of charter boats by about 30 percent. And that’s just for openers.

In Southeast Alaska, charter-boat anglers have been limited to harvesting one halibut per day for the past three seasons. This year, their one per day was further restricted by a regulation that says it can be no longer than 37-inches. Most recently, the feds are proposing a “catch-sharing” plan that would further establish the present commercial stranglehold on this publicly owned resource.

The business of taking people fishing for halibut has become questionable, indeed. With the world economy on the skids, people aren’t spending much “discretionary” income on fishing trips. To make matters worse, the feds are now threatening to limit charter-boat anglers in Southcentral Alaska waters to one halibut per day, possibly with a maximum size restriction of 37 inches.

In Homer, the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” owners of lodges, charter-boats and B & Bs face almost certain disaster if the feds implement a one-fish halibut limit, especially if that fish can’t exceed 37 inches in length. The Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby would be just a memory. Not many people will pay the going rate for a full-day halibut trip — $250, plus tips, taxes, travel and meal expenses — for one halibut, let alone a fish that can’t be longer than 37 inches. A 37-inch-long halibut weighs about 22 pounds, and its fillets would weigh about 12 pounds. That’s pretty expensive fish.

From my viewpoint, the future for halibut charter-boat fishing looks bleak. With charter-boats limited to something on the order of 15 percent of the total harvest and commercial fishermen getting the rest, something has to give. I’m thinking that anglers should’ve fought for 50 percent of the harvest.

If you’re thinking you’ll avoid all this and simply buy your own boat, think again. Anglers fishing from privately owned boats will be next to be blessed with what commercial interests like to refer to as “conservation measures.”

Many years ago, Americans demanded laws that made commercial game hunting illegal. Why do we continue to allow commercial fishermen to not only “hunt” the ocean, but to also dominate the rule-making authority?

I once thought that charter-boat fishing could be key to diversifying and strengthening the economy of small towns along coastal Alaska. Now I’m wondering.

To learn more, visit the Alaska Charter Association website (www.alaskacharter.org). The comment period for the catch-sharing plan ends Sept. 6.

Reach Les Palmer at lpalmer@alaska.net.

  • Comment

Comments (21) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/26/11 - 09:29 am
0
0
The "Final Solution" to commercial fishing?

". . years ago, Americans demanded laws that made commercial game hunting illegal. Why do we continue to allow commercial fishermen to . . “hunt” the ocean, . ."
*****************

Why? Well, for a couple reasons: First, there's a lot more wild fish than there is wild game. After all, what is it, two-thirds of the earth is covered by water?

Second, "commercial" game hunting still exists. Ask a guide, ask a commercial game rancher in Texas, ask a safari outfitter.

The resource itself belongs equally to all Americans. Private anglers use their own boats to harvest their halibut; charter anglers hire a boat in hopes of harvesting their own halibut; non-anglers buy their halibut from markets and restaurants. The commercial fishery thus exists to supply the non-angling public with an opportunity to share the resource.

To my mind, the harvest potential should be apportioned as the market has historically and demographically defined the demand—some percentage to the angling public, private and charter, and some percentage to the non-angling public. Quotas illustrate that the harvestable biomass is finite. Just because one user group—charters at present—sense economic opportunity at the expense of an already fully-apportioned, fully-allocated resource, grants them no warrant to increase their share of the resource at the expense of other user groups—the non-angling public in this case.

And should, some day in the future, private angler pressure increase to the point where it exceeds its historical percentage of the harvestable resource, then it too would need to become limited

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/26/11 - 02:48 pm
0
0
Same number of Fish - decreased biomass

NOAA states that when implementing catch share plans, there will be winners and losers. The one sided nature of the winners and losers in this situation should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the game of heads I win, tails you lose.

With more than 80% of the overall harvest, commercial fishing does not seem to have enough to satisfy itself. With less than 20% of the overall harvest, charter and private anglers are obviously greedy and have too much of this resource, and must be reined in. Otherwise, the industry that was given at no cost (subsidized) all its initial IFQ's and given at no cost (subsidized) all its bycatch in other commercial fisheries most likely will face bankruptcy - because charter operators and anglers harvest less than 20% of the overall resource.

By the way, the economic values of the charter operators and private anglers, with less than 20% of the halibut resource, generates about the same values as the halibut sold in the commercial fishery, which consumes more than 80% of the resource.

The environmental wake-up call is that there are the same number of halibut in the ocean - they are just growing a lot slower these days. NOAA has no clue as to why that is, but they also have no clue as to the economic impact to coastal communities on reducing the daily bag limit for charter anglers, and next private anglers.

Nationwide - commercial fishing generates about $20 billion to the US economy, while recreational fishing generates more than $100 billion. Of course NOAA does not deem it necessary to understand the dynamics of recreational fishing, stating that it would be too expensive to do the necessary economic analysis or collect economic data from anglers.

The Once Halibut Capital of The World - I am sure that will be a winning slogan for Homer and Seward, and all the other coastal communities in Alaska that draw charter and private anglers each summer.

Maybe it will be time to raise the raw fish tax on commercial fishermen from 2% to 10% to replace all the lost sale tax revenues to these coastal communities.

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/26/11 - 11:05 am
0
0
With mroe than 80% of the

With mroe than 80% of the overall harvest, commercial fishing does not seem to have enough to satisfy itself. . .

By the way, the economic values of the charter operators and private anglers, with less than 20% of the halibut resource, generates about the same values as the halibut sold in the commercial fishery, which consumes more than 80% of the resource.

The environmental wake-up call is that there are the same number of halibut in the ocean - they are just growing a lot slower these days. NOAA has no clue as to why that is, but they also have no clue as to the economic impact to coastal communities on reducing the daily bag limit for charter anglers, and next private anglers.

Nationwide - commercial fishing generates about $20 billion to the US economy, while recreational fishing generates more than $100 billion. . .
****************

I think what everyone's missing in this debate is that the so-called "commercial" fishery is not the end-consumer of the resource. The commercial fishery exists to serve the non-angling public, which is the end-consumer of the product.

Second, to claim that private and charter anglers, with their 20 percent of the harvestable biomass, produce as much economic impact as does the commercial harvest is, I'm afraid, just plain silly. To compare the economics of sport and charter fishing to the economics of commercially-caught halibut delivered to the processor totally ignores all the economic impact of commercially-caught halibut from the processor until it reaches the end-consumer in restaurants and markets across America.

But economics aren't the bottom line in this debate, even though the economics are vastly on the side of commercial fisheries. The bottom line here is fairness and equal access to the resource by all Americans whether they get their halibut fishing for them or from a store or restaurant. The family in Kansas has every bit as much right to enjoy a halibut dinner as does an Alaskan.

"An Outdoor View's" suggestion that commercial fishing be outlawed is, well, demented, outlandish, and beyond credibility. The column surely cannot mean all commercial fishing, can it? Or only the commercial fishing that threatens the author's self-interest?

It is diatribes like "An Outdoor View" that is turning this discussion into a "war" when it should be no such thing. The debate over how to allocate halibut harvest is not about greedy self-interests and it's not about economics. The discussion should be centered on equitable access to the resource by all Americans.

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/26/11 - 12:59 pm
0
0
Economic data does include processor values

The Marine Conservation Alliance, an industry trade association funded in part by the Pacific Seafood Processors Association and the At-Sea Processors Association, contracted with Northern Economics to report on the economic values of the Seafood Industry in Alaska in 2008, with a recent update for 2010.

The economic values reported in MCA report do contain the values from the commercial harvest of seafood (ex-vessel values) and the commercial processing of seafood (processors through the first wholesale).

For the Alaskan economy, the economic impacts and contributions from sportfishing and commercial fishing (from ex-vessel through the first wholesale) are comparable when examining allocations of fishery resources and the values generated through each industry.

The 20% of halibut utilized in the sport fishing industry generates similar economic impacts and contributions as does the 80% of halibut utilized for sale in the commercial fishing industry. It may not seem like common sense to Carver, or the commercial fishing members on the Council who voted in this Catch Share Plan and who have a direct financial interest through their own personal IFQs shares (and no conflict of interest in the matter, just financial).

But then again that is why economic studies are done and why decisions should take such information into account in more than just a token measure.

Such economic data is supposed to be a primary consideration of how fishery management regulators, such as the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, make allocations between various fisheries under their jurisdiction - by law.

The Council and NOAA officials state that the Catch Share Plan is based on very limited or no economic data and have no clue as to the impact of the proposed draconian Catch Share plan on coastal communities in Alaska.

However, it doesn't take a pinhead to realize that dramatic impacts will be felt in coastal communities, such as Homer and Seward. These communities collect sales taxes as a primary method of paying for local government services such as schools, police and fire departments. The most recent angler surveys indicate that the vast majority of charter and private anglers will not go fishing for halibut under the one fish per day bag limit.

When the decrease in sales tax revenues hits coastal communities in Alaska, will the commercial fishing industry step up and ask the Legislature that the raw fish tax needs to be raised from its meager 2% to higher rate, such as 5% or 10%? So that vaunted commercial fish tax that goes back to coastal communities actually covers the lost sales tax revenues?

Logically, why shouldn't that be the case if we are going to elevate Joe in Kansas City above Alaska's residents who appreciate fishing for halibut as a charter or private angler.

Nice to know Carver wants to guarantee Joe from KC will be eating halibut in addition to ribs when singing the Kansas City Blues, and couldn't care less about any blues singing in Alaska.

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/26/11 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Equal privilege . . .

The economic values reported in MCA report do contain the values from the commercial harvest of seafood (ex-vessel values) and the commercial processing of seafood (processors through the first wholesale).

For the Alaskan economy, the economic impacts and contributions from sportfishing and commercial fishing (from ex-vessel through the first wholesale) are comparable when examining allocations of fishery resources and the values generated through each industry.
***************

Thanks for the clarification. As you note above, the economic comparisons between sport and commercial fishing stop, for the commercial catch, at the first wholesale and thus ignore all the downstream economics from thence to the end user. Transportation, distribution, marketing, packaging, refrigeration, restaurants, supermarkets, and much more continue contributing to the overall economy of the entire country.

But to repeat, this isn't or shouldn't be about economics though economics can't be ignored. This debate—and it is disreputable to call it a "war"—is about equal privilege to enjoy a publicly-owned resource.

Finally, it is not true that I want "to guarantee Joe from KC will be eating halibut in addition to ribs when singing the Kansas City Blues, and couldn't care less about any blues singing in Alaska." I'd simply like to see all Americans enjoying equal access to America's resources.

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/26/11 - 02:07 pm
0
0
Same numbers of fish - dramatically less biomass

On the blog, Alaska Cafe, by John Enge - a life member of the commercial fishing industry, talks about the great Gulf of Alaska marine fisheries going the way of the once great New England / Atlantic marine fisheries and the buffalo.

Of course no one wants to listen to such commentaries from those marginalized (aka "the Losers") by the implementation of catch share plans in most commercial fisheries under the jurisdiction of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The Council holds up the method of Catch Shares as the best type of fisheries management in the world - and Alaska's fisheries are the best managed anywhere in world...No other commercial fishery in the world gets as many pats on the back as do the Alaskan commercial fisheries do for their "sustainability".

Yet, there are nagging reports from insiders within the commercial fishing community who claim that the great fisheries in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska are being "hunted" to death, and what we are seeing is the slow spiral of descent.

Of course, such statements are true non-sense and fear-mongering say the advocates of catch shares and the "sustainability" its use has brought to Alaskan fisheries.

Then again, NOAA states up front that the number of halibut in the Gulf of Alaska are at similar levels as past years, but its just that the available "biomass" is not as robust as prior years. For some unknown, mysterious reason, halibut just aren't growing as fast as they use to.

By up to half the rate.

If you ask NOAA officials to explain the dramatic decrease of available biomass of halibut, blank stares and utters of "Gee, we don't know, we never really have thought to ask that question or study it in detail..."

Why did the once great fisheries in the Atlantic coast disappear? Why did the once great herds of buffalo on the Great Plains disappear?

With two thirds of the Earth being covered in water, how do we really know that stealthy alien space ships are not hovering over the Gulf of Alaska and sucking up the 50% lost biomass that once made halibut levels "robust"?

Given the lack of scientific understanding, theft from alien space ships might just be an acceptable alternative hypothesis, because NOAA officials just don't have a clue.

Gee, where did up to half of the available biomass for halibut go?

What we do know, the Council and NOAA are all for putting the squeeze on charter and private anglers, because now that the available biomass continues to plunge, a two fish bag limit is stated to threaten the financial viability of the commercial fishing industry.

And of course the first course of action under the banner of "conservation" and "sustainability" is to remove the "public" from the "public resource" equation.

We will sacrifice and trash the recreational fishery, but as long as the commercial fishing interests are protected, everything is hunky dory. Dont' look, keep moving, no problems, no death spiral here.

If growth rates and available biomass of "wild" halibut continue to lag, can "farmed" halibut be that far off over the horizon???

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/26/11 - 02:47 pm
0
0
Impacts and Contributions to the Alaskan economy

It is true that the economic impacts and contributions outside of Alaska are not calculated - but that works both for the commercial fishing industry as well as the recreational sport fishing industry, where transportation costs to and from Alaska are not calculated.

Both studies compare the economic impacts and contributions to the state of Alaska.

If you want to be concerned about national impacts and contributions, the seafood industry is about $20 billion and recreational sport fishing is about $100 billion. Back track from there if you want to talk about the national economics.

And by the way, much of the seafood harvested in Alaska is exported overseas at the first wholesale sector, so there isn't as big of impact on the national economy as you might think - it is the reason why Japan is Alaska's largest trade partner - much of it at the first wholesale level of financial transaction.

Again, as an Alaskan resident, I prioritize what happens in Alaska economy over what happens in the Kansas City economy.

And speaking of equal access, it is ironic that you claim simply to be only interested in seeing all Americans enjoying equal access to America's resources.

In your view, as long as Joe from KC remains in Kansas City, his right to "equal access" is ensured - but that right to enjoy equal access to an American resource ends the moment Joe in KC decides to come to Alaska to personally harvest that American resource by himself with a rod and reel. Then he becomes a menace in your eyes and those of NOAA and the Council.

And God forbid he would need the use of an electronic reel to aid in that fishing quest. Nevermind that he may use a handicap parking space back in KC when going to the grocery store to buy some halibut. Myopic irony is sometimes known as moronic thinking. But that, of course, is open for debate.

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/26/11 - 02:47 pm
0
0
Good stuff . . .

. . the Council and NOAA are all for putting the squeeze on charter and private anglers, . .

. . the first course of action under the banner of "conservation" and "sustainability" is to remove the "public" from the "public resource" equation.
*****************

Thanks again for those perspectives. Although the depletion of the world's fisheries are of valid concern, I don't think the same can be said for your conclusions drawn from such. Are you too then advocating shutting down commercial fisheries?

First of all, no one is "squeezing" private anglers. True, efforts are being made to confine the charter industry within its harvest guidelines, but that's all, nothing more.

Nor is anyone trying to remove the "public" from the public resource equation. Quite to the contrary. All that's being implemented is an effort to assure the public retains the privilege of sharing a publicly-owned resource rather than seeing that privilege diminished simply to accommodate one, small, regional user group with the means to indulge hired access to the resource.

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/26/11 - 03:00 pm
0
0
Shutting down the commercial fisheries

Hey, I am not advocating shutting down commercial fisheries in Alaska.

That will come soon enough through the advocacy efforts of "Marine Spatial Planning".

But don't worry, a reduction of up to 50% of the available biomass for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska will not give such advocates any ammunition for their cause.

Check out the onward march of MSP along the West Coast - California has implemented such planning on a statewide basis along the California coastline. Large areas that once supported both commercial and sport fishing in California are now closed to all types of fishing - such is the nature of the new conservation preserves.

With the head shot on the halibut issue to the salt water recreational fisheries in Alaska, best of luck to marshalling the necessary resources within the commercial fishing community to prevent its spread to both the state and federal waters of Alaska.

The environmental fight over ANWR will be morphing into an environmental fight for "ocean preserves" in the oncoming decades. With the recreational anglers push to the side lines in the salt water fisheries, hope the commercial fishing interests have more pull in Alaska than did their counterparts along the West Coast.

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/26/11 - 03:11 pm
0
0
???

Gotta admit you totally lost me there.

My initial complaint here was about the Clarion column above: its divisive labeling of what should be rational, neighborly discussion as "war," thus pitting neighbor against neighbor, its, to my mind, misrepresentation of the nature of the case, and its incredibly foolish advocacy of shutting down commercial fisheries.

That's all.

JOAT
490
Points
JOAT 08/27/11 - 07:49 am
0
0
Biology lesson needed

While I feel the commercial hunting stab by the author is totally ridiculous, let me correct that analogy for the readers...

What do you think would happen if we took a huge section of accessible wilderness and didn't allow the taking of bull moose, but instead allowed paid guides to take multiple paying clients out several times per day during a season that is 11 months long and each person gets to kill 2 cow moose per day?

After a few years, there would be no moose left as they would have killed off all the breeding stock of the population.

That's exactly what Charters do to the halibut fishery. They are getting paid to take their clients out in large groups where they specifically target breeding females (all halibut over 50 pounds or 47 inches are female) two at a time. They've been doing this nearly all year long for the last couple decades. Gee, I wonder why the halibut population is disappearing?

Commercial long-liners actually catch predominantly smaller males and they are not getting paid even a fraction of what those Charter operators are. The commercial fishermen are feeding the nation while the Charters are feeding just their pocketbooks. In the middle, all of us regular sport fishermen are getting the shaft. Charters are of little intrinsic value to society. Time they go out and get real jobs.

If I were King, the Charters would be a limited entry commercial permit with a reduced season length and one-fish-per-day limit. Sport fishers would remain at two-fish-per-day for the entire season, but both groups would be limited to fish under 48 inches in length to eliminate the targeting of the big breeder females. We are in the eleventh hour and any measures less than this will destroy the last of this once great fishery.

No, I'm not King, but I'll be glad to accept donations to my PAC. ;-)

KenaiKardinal88
474
Points
KenaiKardinal88 08/27/11 - 10:37 am
0
0
Greed and Bullying By Commercial Fisherman - What's New?

Homer is an anti-development enclave in Alaska. They have been nasty-near to ever jobs issue in modern history.

Shut down their hydrocarbon spewing halibut fleet - you bet! Same with the long-longers.

Only resident Alaskans (private not commercial) deserve unfetted access to this resource.

akmscott
131
Points
akmscott 08/28/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
My question is-why is it now

My question is-why is it now almost impossible to find restuarant that offer halibut or even cod down in the lower 48?Where are all these fish being sold?Another thing,charters bring in much more money to the local economies hands down!

cheapersmokes
1028
Points
cheapersmokes 08/28/11 - 09:11 am
0
0
Fish in restaurants!

I am from Minnesota and almost every smaller town has at least one or even two fish fries to benefit a local organization. On the menu is always Alaskan cod. My local home town has an annual baseball association fry and they serve over 2,500 pounds in 5 hours and the Legion Club also has one to benefit their baseball program and serve over 2,000 pounds. You cannot purchase Halibut anywhere in the whole county either.

They both buy the fish through the local grocer and get it shipped in 55 gallon barrels and also pay for the 25 gallons of water left in the barrel when the fish fillets are removed.

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/28/11 - 10:39 am
0
0
"charters bring in much more

"charters bring in much more money to the local economies hands down!"
******************

However true that might be, there's much more to the American economy than purely local considerations. When the downstream economics of commercially-caught halibut are considered—refrigeration, trucking, packaging, marketing, restaurants, supermarkets, and more—the economic benefit of the commercially-caught product totally dwarfs the local.
***************]**
******************

"You cannot purchase Halibut anywhere in the whole county either."
**************

Google "halibut for sale," and you can buy all the halibut you wish.

akmscott
131
Points
akmscott 08/28/11 - 07:34 pm
0
0
Restaurants are not offering

Restaurants are not offering it on their menus.And the usual faie for these local fish fries is smelt!

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/29/11 - 11:26 am
0
0
Smelt!

Oh, man, what I wouldn't give for a mess of smelt!

We used to dip smelt, years ago, in Michigan's upper peninsula, and why anyone would prefer halibut, dry and tasteless as it is, over smelt is utterly beyond me.

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/29/11 - 01:18 pm
0
0
JOAT - biology lesson - what?

Joat -

The commercial fishing industry harvests more than 80% of the all the halibut utilized by humans in the Gulf of Alaska - and you are seriously pointing to the recreational sport fishing sector at less than 20% of the overall harvest as a "culprit" in this equation?

According to you, the hooks in the longlines are mystically set to harvest only smaller males - what a wonderful biological insight - I never knew a piece of curved metal could be so discriminatory.

The amount of available biomass is decreasing - not the number of recruitments - that means the problem is not with the number of reproducing females but that there is less food in the Gulf of Alaska that is available for use by halibut - hence less growth rates - less overall biomass with the same number of fish.

Same numbers of fish, growing slower. That means at the same age class, those fish as an aggregate have less biomass available for commercial seafood purposes. Same number of fish at age x, only smaller.

The quickest solution to increase the available biomass would have been set an age class limit instead of a length limit - allow commercial harvests of fish 31 inches and longer instead of the current 32 inches and longer (similar age class) would have gone a long way to managing the "biomass" equation.

Allowing the commercial harvest of halibut minimum length at 31" was not considered, however, so the only other option is to divide and conquer the recreational halibut fishery - first in Southeast, the in Southcentral, first with guided anglers, next with non-guided anglers.

What is going to be your biology lesson for non-guided anglers when it comes to a one fish bag limit for halibut - which is just around the corner?

Carver
1133
Points
Carver 08/29/11 - 02:08 pm
0
0
". . The quickest solution to

". . The quickest solution to increase the available biomass would have been . .

Allowing the commercial harvest of halibut minimum length at 31" was not considered, . .

What is going to be your biology lesson for non-guided anglers when it comes to a one fish bag limit for halibut - which is just around the corner?"
***********

spybot:

All that is fine in its proper place, but all that is immaterial to the case before us, which is the over-harvest by commercial charters of their pre-established guidelines.

Moreover, why would anyone, given circumstances, consider any limits—sport, charter, or commercial—off limits and sacred? Times change . . depends.

spybot
98
Points
spybot 08/31/11 - 11:11 am
0
0
Over harvest to pre-existing limits - not in Southcentral

The Southcentral charter fleet has been operating under the Council approved GHL since the early 2000's, and has been mostly within the GHL - sometimes a bit below, sometimes a bit above so that on average charter harvests have been within the soft caps of the guideline harvest level.

Carver states that the charter operators should have been fishing within the limits of the GHL - they have been in Southcentral.

Now the Council, through hardcaps in the proposed Catch Share Plan, seeks to redefine the GHL with 30% less fish for charter operators at current abundance levels, even though the SC charter harvests have remained within the established boundaries of the current GHL.

Through the proposed Catch Share plan, the 30% less fish will be reallocated to commercial longliners with halibut IFQ in Southcentral. Voting members of the Council own IFQ's for halibut. Voting members of the Council benefit financially from the reallocation of halibut from the charter sector to the commercial IFQ holders.

The one fish bag limit on halibut for anglers who choose to fish on a charter will make the trip unaffordable for those seeking to put fish in the freezer. Angler surveys indicate that up to 95% of people will not fish for halibut using a charter boat with a one fish bag limit for halibut.

The majority of charter operators on the Kenai Peninsula (Seward, Homer, Deep Creek) offer halibut fishing as the primary fish on their trips. With the implementation of the one fish bag limit for halibut in Southeast, there has been a sizeable number of charter operators who have gone out of business. That same impact will be felt in Southcentral - primarily on the Kenai Peninsula - if the proposed Catch Share plan is enacted as planned starting in 2012.

The biomass of halibut available for harvest is said to be cyclical. There has been a historical angler bag limit of two fish for halibut throughout these cycles of high and low abundance. The Council wants to redefine the historical bag limit from two fish to one fish for anglers who choose to fish on a charter throughout a large range of potential levels of available biomass for halibut.

This action will directly benefit IFQ holders of halibut in the commercial fishing industry. Voting members of the Council who own IFQ for halibut benefit from this action, while members of the public who choose to fish for halibut on a charter boat do not.

Interestingly, many commercial fishing advocates agree with view that the lone public seat on the Council's 11 seats is one voice too many, claiming that the sport fish interests of the general public already have TOO much say in the Council process.

The economic impacts of the proposed rule change has not been studied - only vague, unsubstantiated assertions that the overall health of the American economy will benefit by an action that guts an important component of the Kenai Peninsula economy.

Carver - it is nice to see you are concerned for the greater good of the American economy, even if it comes through the self-dealing interests of Council members entrusted to optimize yields of our public, national fishery resources.

Accordingly, the Fish Lords on high have spoken - and we must listen without dissent - because their decisions are based on the common good, not their own common interest.

The common interests of the common man are protected by the common interests of the commoners on the Council.

George Orwell would be proud.

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 09/01/11 - 09:27 am
0
0
What about Mushy Halibut Syndrome

With all the facts being bounced around by all these very concerned and credible sources, one thing has not been mentioned. That one thing I feel most affects the health of OUR halibut fishery in the Cook Inlet has gone unmentioned. Mushy Halibut Syndrome (MHS) appears to effect such a significant percentage of my personal catch that I wonder if anyone else has noticed! This unknown disease or ailment has gone unmentioned far to long. In this past season as many as 1/3 to 1/2 of my personal catch was MHS fish. Once you take a boat load of them home you'll learn to watch for what halibut charter boats operators are calling "Skinny Halibut". Healthy halibut have a weight lifter look about them. Bulging muscles, deep distinct cut lines, and vigorous fighting from bite to the surface. If the fish seems to easily tire and not resist or turn lifeless at surface be suspect. If when placed on the deck they don't flop intensely, further checking is needed to avoid taking a MHS fish home! MHS fish seem to be skinny and elongated between the tail and the body. The meat has a white appearance much like already cooked halibut when filleted. It isn't that clear pinkish firm meat of a healthy fish. So most charters release that fish. Will that fish ever recover is my first question. Should we release this fish to compete with healthy fish for food, will it pass this syndrome to other fish? Is the unknown factor of MHS significant enough to cause much more concern than just who catches that fish? Could we be looking at the cause of our fisheries demise, while bickering about catch shares? Why has there been very little mention of MHS outside the small State of Alaska Dept F&G's web site for disease halibut mushy. Will it cause the price of halibut to FALL or increase, or should we call a moratorium on halibut harvest until we find out what the heck is happening to OUR halibut fishery. These are just a few of the thoughts local fishermen have shared with me. Is there anyone out there that has information about MHS you could share with the rest of us. If so please help get this information published as I truly fear for our fishery.

Back to Top

Spotted

Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321268/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321253/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321248/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321243/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321208/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/320593/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321173/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321163/
My Gallery

CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS