The charter halibut bag limit controversy in Southeast Alaska sure is stirring the pot for charter boat owners and recreational fishermen. They all seem quite horrified by cuts to the charter boat angler’s daily allotment from two fish to one, and claim they simply won’t be able to survive if the ruling stands.
Welcome to our nation’s fisheries management process.
How many times have commercial fishermen pled loss of business in the face of dwindling allocations, had the ruling stand anyway, and then gone out of business?
The standard retort is, “That’s what you get for overfishing.” Well, I could go on a long tangent about water quality, runoff, overdevelopment, cheap foreign imports and other factors of some species and market decline.
But what I will say instead is that a charter fleet is just as capable of overfishing their quota as a commercial fleet is. In some cases, they are more risky because their numbers are not always reported.
Maybe the charter guys should band together to establish charter IFQs. That way, the guys who go out of business can get bought out by the guys who have enough business history to stay in it.
I don’t want to sound cold or eager to toss legitimate tourist business aside (I live in Vacationland, so I get it, believe me). What I would like to see is commercial guys taking advantage of recreational publicity to shed light on their own industry struggles.
What I would love to see is the recreational guys joining with commercial interests to keep everyone in business.