ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A federal fisheries panel is set to decide this week whether to approve an individual fishing quota program for halibut charter boat operators, giving them a specified share of the overall catch.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will devote about four days of its six-day April meeting, beginning Wednesday, to IFQ options for the growing charter industry.
The proposal is the culmination of eight years of deliberations. It faces strong opposition from the Alaska Board of Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and four powerful state legislators.
The state board sees ''no compelling need to give a public resource to a private group of individuals at this time,'' said Dan Coffey, chairman of the state board.
Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak; Sen. Dave Donley, R-Anchorage, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; House Speaker Brian Porter, R-Anchorage; and Rep. Eldon Mulder, R-Anchorage, co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, also oppose halibut IFQs, on grounds they could lead to higher rates for charter clients and less access to ''common property'' halibut.
The council must also make final recommendations for fishery regulations for the second half of 2001 to protect Steller sea lions. The regulations replace emergency rules that expire at mid-year.
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