A controversial halibut plan that could change current catch limits in southcentral Alaska has been put on hold…for now.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today reconsidered a catch-sharing plan that would crack down on harvests to protect the halibut population.
NOAA received more than 4,000 comments from both the commercial and sportfishing industry that wanted more studies to be done to figure out what the exact impact would be.
The plan would have cut the daily bag limit of sport charters in the southcentral area from two fish per day to one.
Commercial fishermen believe the limit is reasonable, given the decline of the local halibut population.
“You shouldn’t put it on one industry. The declining resource hurts both industries. To turn around and say it's okay to wipe out one industry and we'll protect this other one isn't fair either,” said Kathy Hansen, board member on the Halibut Coalition.
Owners of private fishing charters, including Winter King Charters in Homer, say they agree that oversight is necessary to help protect the decline of halibut, but they claim it's currently focused more on helping certain industries rather than conservation.
“The economic analysis of the consequences -of reallocating up to 30 percent of the allocation of the commercial sector- just hadn’t been analyzed at all,” said Rex Murphy, a charter captain for Winter King.
NOAA has asked members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to look at the proposed plan before it makes any decisions.