Possible Fish Regulation Changes
Annual meeting for Pacific Halibut Commission underway
The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is holding its annual meeting in Anchorage this week to decide on quotas and regulatory changes, as well as the dates for the upcoming season.
People involved in the halibut fishing industry – from charter boat owners, to big commercial operators were at the meeting Tuesday to find out how their business will be affected.
KTVA CBS 11 was able to get some idea of the changes being presented, as well as some of the concern throughout the industry about the decline of halibut numbers and size.
The number one concern for fisherman at the IPHC meeting, Tuesday, is the health and future of the stock.
“At the ground level we know something is wrong,” said Roland Maw of the Cook Inlet Drift Association.
“They're seeing lots of little fish that aren't big enough for harvest and that's a real cause for concern, for people,” said Director Of Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, Julianne Curry.
Later this week the commission will decide on whether to relax regulations for guided sports fishing in Southeast Alaska.
According to Charter Operators, stricter limits have been hurting business.
“So the biggest halibut on a guided trip last year [you] could keep in Southeast Alaska was 37 inches long, and they were allowed one per day,” said Tom Ohaus. “That's a 22 pound, 23 pound halibut and that was pretty damaging to our industry.”
Fisherman in Southeast, are hoping the commission will make a decision to increase the amount they can catch.
“They are pretty happy that area 2C is showing signs of stability – we’ve seen a 76 percent reduction in quota since about 2006 and that's been pretty devastating to peoples business,” said Curry.
” We aren't seeing a rebound in either the size of the fish or the number of fish that the models are predicting," said Maw.
Arguments continue between the different groups involved in halibut fishing – as to whether everyone is taking their fair share of cutback pain.
"The commercial charter sector has been very resistant and very politically active to say that some how they should be immune to some of these restrictions,” said Maw.
The Charter industry has a different view.
“I think people can argue about what our quota should be, but right now our quota is clearly established and nobody is saying give us a regulation to exceed that quota,” said Ohaus.
Some in the charter business say regulation’s is where the problems lies.
The IPHAC meeting will continue until Friday.
One of the other changes on the table is the overall catch limit for the Cook Inlet area. Staff, are recommending the catch limit for 2012 be reduced from around 14.4 million pounds to 11.9 million pounds. This is expected to have an impact on commercial fisherman, but not so much for the charter industry.