Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Charter Operators of Alaska May Seek Injunction on Halibut Permits
Some small business sports fishermen say the new regulations are destroying their business.
The group Charter Operators of Alaska is speaking out against new regulations that went into effect on Feb. 1 which requires charter boats to have a halibut permit.
Even though they haven't actually filed anything yet, Charter Operator officials say they are just days away from asking for an injunction to either amend or overturn how charter halibut permits are handled.
"We are a $1.4 billion industry a year, cut us by 40 percent what does that do to the state," said Jack Roskind, president of the Charter Operators of Alaska.
Some small business sports fishermen say it's destroying their business.
Charter halibut permitting falls under the Charter Halibut Limited Access Program that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it put in place for two reasons:
"One is the conservation management of the halibut resource. Also the main purpose was to provide stability in the fishery by limiting the number of charter vessels that may participate in areas 2c and 3a," said Julie Speegle, public affairs officer of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska region.
The regions in question encompass both southeast and central gulf Alaska.
Because of the new regulations, every boat with charter anglers on board in these areas fishing for halibut must now carry a CHP.
"We set the bar very reasonably. If a charter operator had operated during 2004 or 2005 and did only five trips, either one of those years, then again in 2008, they would qualify for a charter halibut permit," said Speegle.
However charter operators say back then, there was no way of knowing how many fish were caught.
"In 2004 and 2005 charter operators were not required to log how many halibut were caught," said Roskind.
Those who didn't qualify to receive a CHP need to purchase one, some cost around $100,000.
But officials say the halibut regulations are something for which people have asked.
"In fact in the course of the public meeting and from public letter and testimony that were received by the council, a large segment of the charter fleet owners and commercial system actually support some form of limited access program, " Speegle said. "This is a program, for the most part, charter vessel operators wanted and it was developed with their input. Now there is a small group that did not meet the criteria apparently for an application."
"There are possibly 385 more of us that we are aware of that are not receiving permits. This has been in the works for quite sometime and no one ever knew when it was going to be implemented, no federal agency has ever said until Jan. 5 of 2010," said Roskind.
"I stand to lose my investment of almost a quarter-million dollars. There are lodge owners who have millions of dollars invested that stand to lose their business."