National Fisherman

FAIRBANKS — A proposed plan to allocate halibut catch shares between charter and commercial boats will not necessarily lead to a one-fish per day limit for charter boat customers in waters off Southcentral Alaska, according to a summary released by North Pacific Fishery Management Council staff.

The plan would replace the current “guideline harvest level” system with a system that allocates a percentage of the total allowable halibut catch between the commercial and charter sectors. The council staff, employees of the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the plan was developed, in part, to allow the allocation between commercial and charter sectors to fluctuate, “with relatively higher allocations to the charter sector in years of lower abundance, when that sector would be most affected.”

However, some charter boat operators have criticized the latest so called “catch-sharing plan,” saying it could lead to a one-fish per trip limit in Southcentral Alaska waters, similar to the rule applied in Southeast Alaska during the past three years.

The staff summary said that criticism is “unfounded.”

The summary was placed on items for the council to consider in advance of its Sept. 30-Oct.8 meeting in Anchorage. The plan is not on the council’s meeting agenda.

If the plan would have been in effect this year, the staff summary said, “in Area 3A (southcentral), the (charter) allocation would have been 17.5 percent of the combined catch limit for that area (slightly higher than the 2012 harvest), and would have resulted in no change to bag limits (i.e., the limit would have remained two fish of any size).”

Read the full story at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner>>

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Inside the Industry

NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.

First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.

Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.

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Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.

Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.

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