Sportfishing and charter halibut representatives have acknowledged that implementation of the new halibut catch sharing plan would not necessarily mean guided anglers in Southcentral Alaska face a one-fish bag limit.
That’s good news for anglers — and a marked change from the guide industry’s comments earlier in the summer.
The guided halibut sector in Southcentral has widely and publicly described the new plan, or CSP, as an effort to reduce the bag limit out of Kodiak and Kenai Peninsula ports from two fish to one, and to reallocate those fish to the commercial sector.
On its website, the Alaska Charter Association, or ACA, has a graphic that reads “I fish ... You fish, We’ll all fish ... for ONE FISH? Save your ‘but. No CSP.”
After the comment period closed Aug. 26, some sportfishing representatives said that the one-fish bag limit is likely not on the horizon in Southcentral.
Kenai River Sportfishing Association Executive Director Ricky Gease said changes to the current management measures are something he’s expecting guides will face next summer. But a reduced bag limit is not the first choice in lowering the harvest.
“They’re going to try and keep the two fish bag limit,” Gease said.
The National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, received about 4,123 comments on the new halibut catch sharing plan, although not all necessarily made it in before the Aug. 26 deadline.