Fisheries service defends catch sharing plan

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).”

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