Charter groups urge Parnell to address halibut limits

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Southeast Alaska Guides Organization (SEAGO) and Alaska Charter Association (ACA) are pleading for the state to get more involved with the new 37-inch halibut limit for Southeast Alaska set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

The groups are concerned the limit will result in charter fleets not meeting their target harvests.

The organizations have issued a press release imploring Gov. Sean Parnell to weigh in on the restriction. While the release acknowledges the governor does not have the authority to change the size limit, they believe the governor has a duty to address it. SEAGO Interim Executive Director Forrest Braden said state representatives have been reluctant in getting involved with IPHC in the past.

"We're not telling him what stance to take, just to be aware of what's happening," said Braden. He said even without direct legislative authority, Parnell's decisions on the issue can go a long way in influencing IPHC in fishing decisions.

Parnell's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said the governor's office has received the release but has yet to review it.

In the release, SEAGO President Tom Ohaus states the limits will result in cuts "above and beyond what are necessary to hold the fleet to the target." Braden compared the limit to be the equivalent of issuing a commercial catch limit then restricting fleets to harvesting 80 percent of that limit.

SEAGO and ACA state IPHC did not incorporate harvest reductions or negative marketing when modeling the 37-inch limit. They state analyses by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game propose a 45-inch maximum size, and are asking the governor to look into such.

In the release, ACA President Greg Sutter says, "The IPHC's analysis figures that every fish harvested by an angler fishing from a charter boat will be the maximum 37". Not 35", not 33", not 28" but always 37. The Fish & Game's analysis looked at the number of fish harvested under 37" when there was no size restriction, and assumed the same number of fish under 37" would be harvested with the new maximum size restriction."

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