As the comment period for a proposal to change the way halibut is divvied up between charter operators and commercial fishermen nears to an end, a teleconference workshop with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries aimed at explaining the proposed halibut Catch Sharing Plan drew a dozen or so residents last week from the Homer area.
The teleconference, hosted at the Homer Chamber of Commerce, was a far cry from the last time NOAA officials came to town in 2011, when more than 100 frustrated halibut charter fishermen and commercial operators debated previously proposed plans. More than 4,000 public comments were received during that round of debate.
Glenn Merrill, National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Region assistant administrator noted that the earlier meeting in Homer was "fairly contentious."
While the teleconference meeting may have been calmer, the debate is no less heated, as commercial fishermen and charter operators argue over management choices with the declining stock of halibut. Commercial fishermen are allocated a certain amount of fish based on abundance, a number that has been dramatically declining in recent years, while the halibut charter fleet is allocated about 20 percent of the abundance. So far, the Southcentral Alaska halibut charter fleet has not exceeded its allocated amount of fish, unlike Southeast Alaska, where the charter fleet's catch went over the limit significantly, causing the number and size of fish anglers could keep to be restricted. Meanwhile, fishermen on private boats are still allowed to keep two fish a day, an equation that may lead to an expansion in boat rentals, which charter operators say is not only dangerous to their business, but also to the public at large as inexperienced boaters take to Alaska's unpredictable waters.
Read the full story at the Homer Tribune>>
National Fisherman Live: 1/13/15
In this episode:
Council hosts public hearing on Cashes Ledge
Report assesses Chesapeake water, fisheries
Warmer waters shake up Jersey fishing
North Pacific observer program altered for 2015
Woman aims to crowdsource lobstering career
National Fisherman Live: 12/30/14
In this episode, Michael Crowley, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear editor, interviews Chelsea Woodward, an engineer working with the NIOSH Alaska Pacific Office to design static guards for main drum winches used in the side trawl fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is still seeking public review and comment on the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Conformance Criteria (Version 1.2, September 2011). The public review and comment period, which opened on Dec. 3, 2014, runs through Monday, Feb. 3.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.