Urgent – Charter Operator Input Needed

Dear Readers,

As you know, the NPFMC’s Charter Halibut Management Implementation Committee has been tasked with coming up with measures to keep the Area 2C and 3A charter catches in line with sector allocations. Andy Mezirow of Seward is on the committee and is seeking charter operator input to make sure measures recommended to the Council provide maximum charter opportunity and impose minimum harm. He has listed 14 potential measures, and had highlighted in bold five that are likely to get the most review and support. He is asking Area 3A captains to email him with comments either for or against the options listed. He has written a letter, copied in its entirety below, which makes that request.

At the same time, Heath Hilyard, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Guides Organization, is seeking comments on proposals specific to Southeast Alaska from Area 2C captains. See his letter below immediately following Andy’s letter.

Note: to be considered Andy and Heath need to hear from you before Oct. 15.

Andy Mezirow:

I am expecting the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to appoint two more members to the Charter Halibut Management Implementation Committee. In the interim, I would like to solicit comments from 3A charter operators as to which management measures  we should send back for analysis as options to reduce our harvest in 2014, if necessary.

I need all comments to be brief, and on topic and in my email by October 15th, so I can look them over and provide input to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Advisory Panel and on to the Council. Some will have detailed questions about each option. I cannot answer these questions. They will be considered in the analysis and that will be available prior to the December 9th meeting, when we will take action if necessary.

We will not know how large or if any reductions will be necessary but it will be very helpful to hear from industry as to where they stand on these options.

Please consider each option but keep in mind, so far it looks like the bold options below have received the most positive comments so far.

Clearly preserving the two fish bag limit is of the highest priority in 3A for obvious reasons and please weigh each option as tools to keep two fish as our bag limit

With that said, I am open to look at whatever industry wants, this is not only my decision. Here are the potential management measures that have been looked or could be analyzed for 3A:

1.  2-fish bag limit, no size limit

2.  Annual limit

3.  Prohibit skipper/crew harvest (default under CSP)

4.  2-fish bag limit, maximum size limit on second fish

5.  2-fish bag limit, maximum size limit on both fish

6.  2-fish bag limit, reverse slot limit on second fish (also called protected slot)

7.  2-fish bag limit, reverse slot limit on both fish.

8.  Annual limit combined with maximum size limit

9.  Annual limit combined with reverse slot limit

10.  Closure of certain days of the week

11.  Shortened season

12.  Limit to one trip per day

13.  1-fish bag limit, no size limit

14.  1-fish bag limit with maximum size limit

You can get an idea of the relative effect of various measures by looking at these documents:

1.   Review of charter halibut management measures, J. King
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/halibut/CharterMeasuresREV_1011.pdf

2.   Analysis of maximum size limit, reverse slot limit, and closure of days of the week for 2C for 2012:
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/halibut/2012MgmtMeasures2C.pdf

3.   Discussion paper looking at additional management measures under the CSP (esp. pages 21-48):
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/halibut/CSPDiscussionPaper312.pdf

4.   Analysis of management alternatives for 2C and 3A for 2013:
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/halibut/2013charterAnalysis_1212.pdf

For some of the measures in the list above, the results of the analysis are very uncertain.  For example, you probably recall that we couldn’t be certain about the effects of closing selected days of the week or shortening the season because many anglers could simply rebook to available dates. We were not able to quantify how much of that effort would simply shift to the open season or days.

2C charter operators should follow these suggestions and send email to Heath Hilyard (see below).

Thanks

Andy Mezirow, crackerjack@gci.net
Charter Representative, North Pacific Management Council, Advisory Panel

Heath Hilyard:

Per our conversation, here are what I see as reasonable scenarios and options for Area 2C in 2014.

STATUS QUO ALLOCATION

If 2C remains under the Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) OR if IPHC abundance estimates suggest that there will likely be an allocation of 650,000+ lbs under the Catch Sharing Plan (CSP), the existing reverse slot-limit (U45/O68) appears to be the most likely option for 2014.

REDUCED ALLOCATION

In the event that abundance estimates indicate a need for reduction, then Area 2C operators could consider one, or a possible combination, of the following options:

  • A more conservative reverse slot-limit (ex. U42/O70)
  • A maximum size limit as large as possible to remain under the allocation (options for analysis will likely be 40″, 45″ and 50″)
  • Differential size limits throughout the season (ex. 42″ maximum size limit May to June 15, U/45/O68 reverse slot-limit June 16 to August 15, 42″ maximum size limit August 16 to October 1).
  • Day(s) of the week closure
  • Annual limits, no less than 3 annually (standalone or in combination with a slot limit, reverse slot-limit or maximum size limit)
  • Elimination of multiple daily trips (one trip per day for Halibut)

This is not an exhaustive list and the examples provided  are in the absence of either 2013 harvest estimates or 2014 abundance projections by the IPHC.  The desire is to have 2C operators provide their recommendations and suggestions for members of the Charter Halibut Implementation Committee prior to their October 25th meeting.

Operators can forward their questions and comments to Heath Hilyard at 907.244.4909 or Heath@seagoalaska.org.

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