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Alaska Charter Association "Halibut"

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by smiley, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. Dear Angler,

    We urge your support to prevent the implementation of the proposed Charter Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) which will affect the Alaskan halibut charter fleet and set a bad precedent for the entire United States. Sports fishermen's rights are being eroded for the sole purpose of enhancing the commercial halibut fleet's catch. We also request your help in revising the existing and controversial Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) which places an unnecessary cap on the Alaskan halibut charter fleet and will be automatically enacted if the Charter IFQ program is defeated. It is the commercial sector's back-up plan if the IFQ fails. As written, the GHL cap can only go down, never up, even if the resource's biomass doubles. Your access to this resource will be severely restricted by either of these measures. Even though the sport's take is less than 10% of the total catch, the Federal Government wants to give more halibut to the commercial sector and restrict and reduce your access. It is unprecedented in our Nation's history that a recreational fishery be privatized by an IFQ program. If this program passes, Alaska will be the model for the rest of the Nation. Your support is urgently needed as we near the public comment period for this proposed regulation.
    All this started when the Alaskan halibut longliners recognized the economic value in the ownership of the resource and complained about the charter fleet's catch. They were highly influential. They were heard by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) a division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which falls under NOAA and answers to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NPFMC is overwhelmingly dominated by commercial fishing interests and sided with the longliners. When they enacted the GHL and proposed the Charter IFQ program, the NPFMC was blatantly misusing it’s power. Their official reason, published in NMFS documents is that, "the rapidly growing" charter fleet's "expanding sport fishery harvests effectively reduce the percentage of halibut resource available to the commercial sector." Including their bycatch, the total commercial take was 90% of the halibut caught in Alaskan waters, according to the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council for 2003.
    Since 1995, the sports' harvest in Alaska went to a high of 7.78 million lbs., then declined 9% to 7.09 million lbs. in 2003. During the same period, the commercial harvest of halibut went from 33.96 to 60.53 million llbs. (a 78% increase) with an additional 13.05 million lbs. of wasted halibut bycatch. The commercial fleet's bycatch mortality for other finfish species was over 320 million pounds in 2003, representing 7.1% of their total catch in Alaskan waters. Yet, sports fishermen are being restricted on charter boats because we are "rapidly growing?" The true threat to the halibut resource lies within the commercial fishing industry and their wasteful fishing techniques.
    The commercial halibut IFQ system began in 1995 to address the concerns of a "derby style" fishery, where safety was a major concern and bycatch mortality was exceedingly high. It also reduced their fleet size by 50%. The reasons for implementing commercial IFQs do not apply to the charter fishing fleet. The charter fleet has a safety record that far surpasses recreational boaters and commercial fishermen, and bycatch mortality is almost nonexistent.
    Also, contained in the Charter IFQ program are outrageous provisions that allow charter operators to lease up to 10% of their quotas to the commercial sector. After the program has been in place for 3 years, NMFS may approve up to 25% of the charter quota (traditionally sport caught fish) to be sold outright to the commercial sector. Commercial IFQs currently trade as high as $23 a pound. Interestingly, there are charter captains who endorse the IFQ proposal because they expect a huge financial windfall when they sell out their shares of your fish.
    Final approval of the proposed IFQ program lies with the Secretary of Commerce. If he approves it:
    1) Many Jobs will be lost. Conservatively, at least 30% (some estimates exceed 50%) of the current Alaskan halibut charter fleet will be out of business.
    The many non-qualifying halibut operators would be forced to buy
    IFQ shares at a projected cost of $200,000 to $400,000 just to stay in business.
    2) All tourist-related industries such as lodging, food services and transportation in Alaska will suffer
    severe economic impact, especially in the coastal communities. Again, many jobs will be lost.
    3) It will create an artificial barrier to competition and free enterprise. .
    4) The enforcement and management of the program promises to be costly and difficult, increasing
    the size and cost of the bureaucracy. NMFS replaces the longstanding, simple bag limit of
    2 halibut per person per day with a document, nearly 100 pages long.
    5) It will limit or eliminate your access to the resource. The price of an Alaskan halibut charter will become exceedingly high, especially for future generations of anglers.

    In short, the commercial interests in power want you to stay home and buy your halibut at the store. They are restricting your freedom to go and enjoy the thrill of the catch. We need your support to demonstrate national level opposition to this form of federal government restrictions.
    We need your support. Please write, call and email the following people today to express your opinion opposing the proposed Charter IFQ program and help revise the GHL. After the final draft of the proposed Charter IFQ program is placed on the Secretary of Commerce's desk, a 30 day public comment period will follow so make to second copy of your letter to be sent again. It is imperative that your letter is received by him during the 30 day period; otherwise, it will not count on the federal registry.
    All out of Alaska supporter also need to contact their congressional representatives and senators –
    The halibut fishery is controlled by the Federal Government, not the state of Alaska.

    Send comments to:

    Carlos Gutierrez, US Secretary of Commerce Senator Ted Stevens

    14th & Constitution NW, Room 5516 522 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

    Washington, DC 20230 Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3004, fax: (202) 224-2354

    Dr. William Hogarth, Director Senator Lisa Murkowski

    National Marine Fisheries Service 709 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

    1315 East-West Highway Washington, DC 20510

    Silver Springs, MD. 20910 (202) 224-6665, fax: (202) 224-5301

    fax: (202) 456-2061

    Congressman Don Young

    2111 Rayburn HOB

    Washington, DC 20515

    (202) 225-5765; fax: (202) 224-5301

    Your state senators and representatives
    Put in your zipcode THANKS Smiley :D