Halibut decision doesn't hold water

Posted: Monday, November 30, 2009

Halibut courts? U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia's recent ruling to reduce charter catches in half is out of line. Charter operations and resident sport fishing combined represent less than 10 percent of the yearly harvest of this publicly owned resource. Yet the dollar value of that catch is greatly enhanced by the spin-off to lodging, hotel, transportation, and food services of the clients. The most bang for our buck or our halibut comes through those revenues. The money spent there helps ofset the cost of these sevices to the general public, therefore benefiting all Alaskans.

Throwing into that mix the North Pacific Halibut Commisions by-catch for purse seiners, and cod long-liners creates a problem. Permitting several times the total sport catch to be thrown back and wasted is the problem. I don't care what kind of problem the processors have handling by-catch, it should never be thrown back and wasted. Take that by-catch and process it and sell the product. Reduce each IHQ (individual halibut quota) by that percentage and pay them the money so the quota owner won't be out any money. The real problem is the court has fined the smallest user who pays the most in spin-off to the community. The cost just shot up for all those charter clients that are Alaska residents. Just who is it going to cost the most, Mr. Big Fish Bucks in Seattle or our residential charter industry?

Dennis Barnard


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