While fishing Cook Inlet with a guide, whether going for feeder kings or dragging the bottom for halibut, it's not uncommon for a guide to drop an extra line in the water. This practices comes to an end this fishing season.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced last week that saltwater sport fishing charter guides, as well as their crew, are prohibited from retaining any fish species while paying clients are on board the vessel.
In addition, the maximum number of lines that may be fished from a vessel engaged in guided sport fishing in salt waters may not exceed the number of paying clients on board the vessel.
These restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 24 and apply to the salt waters of Southcentral Alaska, including Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and northern waters of waters of the Kodiak Island area.
The specific prohibition further states that a fish, when landed and killed, becomes a part of the bag limit of the person originally hooking it.
As to the reason for this prohibition, it is the result too many halibut being harvested several years in a row. According to a Fish and Game press release, "The Pacific halibut Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) for charter boat anglers within Southcentral Alaska was exceeded in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The 2007 guide harvest was projected to be less than the GHL, due in part to a Department (Emergency Order) issued in 2007 prohibiting retention of halibut and other fish by guides and crew members."
This prohibition is expected to be a short-term fix to a problem, but it was recognized that federal action would not come soon enough to assure charter halibut harvests would remain at or below the GHL during 2008.
"Discussions are continuing between stakeholders, the Department (of Fish and Game), and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to seek a long-term solution," the press released stated.
These restrictions are effective May 24 through Sept. 1 under the authority granted to the Department by the Board of Fisheries to regulate harvests within established allocation guidelines (5 AAC 75.003(4)).
For additional information about these restrictions, or to obtain a detailed description of the salt waters effected, contact Matt G. Miller or Tom Vania, regional management coordinators with Fish and Game in Anchorage, at 907-267-2415 or 907-267-2131.
For more general information about the sport fisheries in Southcentral Alaska, contact the Soldotna office of Fish and Game or visit: http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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