ATTENTION ALASKA SPORTS FISHERMEN, SPORTS FISHERMEN BOUND FOR ALASKA, AND ALASKA COMMERCIAL FISHING INTERESTS.AAB REPRINTS THIS NOTICE AS A PUBLIC SERVICE. WE DO NOT HAVE A POSITION ON THIS ISSUE. WE WOULD LIKE TO OFFER THE AFFECTED PUBLIC OUR PAGES FOR PUBLIC DISCUSSION OF THE ISSUE. USE THE COMMENT SECTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.
|NOAA PHOTO OF LANDED HALIBUTT|
Recreational Fishing Alliance
Contact: Jim Hutchinson, Jr. / 888-564-6732
For Immediate Release
July 22, 2013
RFA URGES ANGLERS TO OPPOSE 'CSP'A New Attack on The Last Frontier: Alaskan Halibut
July 22, 2013 - How would you like to pay a commercial fisherman for the "opportunity" to fill out your bag limit?
In yet another troubling precedent, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved regulations for pacific halibut that would 1) reduce the recreational allocation of "guided anglers" who fish on charter boats and transfer that quota to the commercial sector, and 2) offer those anglers the "opportunity" to rent those fish back from owners of commercial catch share quotas.
Here's how it would work: first, recreational anglers would be divided into two separate (and unequal) sectors: "guided" and "unguided" angler sectors.
Recreational fishermen who have their own boats would have their allocation taken "off the top" as has always been the case in Alaska. Trawl bycatch and subsistence fishing would also be taken off the top. Whatever is left over would be divided between the commercial longline sector and the new "guided angler" sector.
Charter fishing for halibut in Alaska is already limited to a Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) and a new limited entry program that caps the charter fleet's capacity. The new allocations, called the Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) would further reduce the percentage of halibut landed by guided anglers.
Under most circumstances, the new allocations under the CSP would result in a reduction of the traditional two-fish halibut bag limit by half, or one fish.
But wait! Should an angler on a charter vessel wish to keep a second fish (as allowed for unguided anglers) the charter captain could "rent" the fishing privilege from a commercial fishermen, who would receive a check for that fish at market rates.
In other words, you would have to pay for that fish before you even go fishing!
Take action now against this flagrant resource grab. It's fast and easy when you submit comments on this proposed federal rule online:
"Alaska's fabled reputation as 'the last frontier' takes on a new meaning when we consider the precedent set by the CSP's provisions for renting quota from the commercial sector. If allowed to stand, this assault on the public trust doctrine will spread to other states and anglers can expect many more 'opportunities' to rent fish from commercial fishermen who will receive a check while sipping their morning coffee," said RFA's West Coast Regional Director, Jim Martin.
"The RFA and the Alaska Charter Association have been working side by side for many years to stand against the imposition of catch share systems on the charter fishing industry, and we feel that the recreational fishery must stay united and resist all attempts at sector separation," Martin added.
In 2011, a broad-reaching education campaign conducted by the ACA resulted in over 4,000 public comments on a similar Catch Sharing Plan, a record number of comments in the state of Alaska's history.
"This plan will in effect put me out of business. It will hurt our industry to the point it is unlikely there will be boat launches in Ninilchik or Anchor Point. It will close down our local fish processors," wrote local charter captain Rod Van Saun. "The Catch Share Plan has nothing to do with conservation. It only has to do with allocation. The commercial industry wants to take your fish away and catch and sell them for a profit."
Charter fishing operators, lodges and related businesses are encouraged to join the Alaska Charter Association: membership forms can be found atwww.alaskacharter.org. Individual anglers can become associate members of the ACA at no cost. More information about this CSP issue can be found at the website as well as links to provide donations for this battle.
Visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2011-0180 and get your comments in before August 12th. Use the sample letter below if you'd like to help craft your own public comment. You can also find a PDF version of the letter which you can date, sign and fax to NOAA by clicking here - right clickto save document.
Mr. Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator
Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS
P.O. Box 21668
Juneau, AK 99802-1668
Attn: Ellen Sebastian
Dear Mr. Merrill:
I am writing because I am opposed to the Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP), as proposed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC).
The only sector that will benefit from this CSP is the commercial sector. Under this plan, the guided sport angler's allocation under the Guideline Harvest Level is given to the commercial sector. This means that in South Central Alaska, the daily bag limit for guided sport anglers will drop to one halibut a day. South East Alaska will suffer more even more restrictions.
Economically, it is not feasible to charter a fishing boat, plus pay for transportation, food, lodging, and entertainment, to try to catch one halibut or one small halibut. Passage of this plan will cause the local economies of towns in Alaska, which are supported by recreational fishing dollars, to suffer.
This plan proposes that a recreational angler, who needs to charter a boat, will be allowed to catch a second halibut by renting a fish from a commercial IFQ holder. This is wrong and will not work.
This CSP will be disastrous to sport anglers, small businesses, and town economies. It will not conserve one fish that is taken from the guided angler because the commercial sector will harvest it instead.
Higher bag limits for unguided anglers versus guided anglers, is a strong incentive to rent a boat without a guide. If the safety issue was of major concern for NOAA in establishing commercial IFQs, why isn't NOAA concerned over the safety of recreational anglers in Alaskan waters?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
About Recreational Fishing AllianceThe Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries. For more information, call 888-JOIN-RFA or visit www.joinrfa.org.
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