Fisherman on charter boats will be allowed one halibut per day that is either less than 45 inches long (35-40 lbs) or over 68 inches long (160 lbs). This is definite improvement over last years under 37 inch ruling.
I have included the summary from the meeting as follows:
Homer, January 27, 2011
International Pacific Halibut Commission Recap
The eighty-eighth annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) concluded this morning with the Commissioners, three from the United States and three from Canada, announcing their decisions on commercial catch limits and proposed regulation changes. The commissioners, prior to making their decision, review recommendations from two stakeholder groups which met earlier this week. One called the Conference Board which is made up of commercial and sport fishing representatives and the other is called the Processor Advisory Group (PAG) which consists of commercial fish processors. There were fifty eight organizations present in the Conference Board with only nine from the recreational sport fishing sector, seven from the U.S. and two from Canada. From the U.S. were the Alaska Charter Association (Bryan Bondiolli), Southeast Alaska Guides Organization (Heath Hilyard), Sitka Charter Boat Owners Association (Tom Ohaus), Homer Charter Association (Gary Ault), Prince William Sound Charter Boat Owners Association (Ken Larson), Juneau Charter Boat Operators Association (Richard Yamada), and Deep Creek Charter Association (Aaron Mahoney).
Reverse Slot Limit
Of primary interest to Southeast Alaska operators was the reverse slot limit of Under 45 inches and Over 68 inches (South-central Alaska will remain under a two fish of any size, daily bag limit). ACA and other representatives of the charter sector put a lot of work into developing this regulation at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) in December. With a minority representation in the Conference Board, this regulation was voted down. The U.S. delegation submitted a minority report to the Commissioners giving our rationale as to why we felt this regulation best addressed the diverse business models that exist in Southeast Alaska and was very pre-cautionary to prevent exceeding our Guideline Harvest Level in 2012. We are pleased to report that the Commissioners voted in favor of the NPFMC recommendation and the reverse slot limit regulation will now go to the US Secretary of Commerce for signature and adoption into regulation for our 2012 season.
Each year the IPHC must approve Commercial Catch Limits for all the IPHC regulatory areas.
- Area 2A is California, Oregon, and Washington.
- Area 2B is British Columbia, Canada.
- Area 2C is Southeast Alaska.
- Area 3A is Southcentral Alaska.
- Area 3B is west of Kodiak along with Areas 4A,B,C,D,and E (Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea).
After deliberation, the Commissioners decided to give Canada a slight increase from 6.63M to 7.038M and adopted IPHC staff recommendations for all the other areas. Area's 2A and 2C were the only Area's that got an increase over their 2010 catch limits. All other Area's took reductions. The final 2012 catch limits can be found on the IPHC website.
Proposed Regulation Changes
ACA submitted two proposals for consideration by the IPHC. One submitted by Richard Yamada to remove the requirement to have to retain the skin and carcass of halibut when transporting halibut over water when there are no possession limits. There are no possession limits on a vessel that has no fishing gear aboard. It seemed like simple logic; no possession limit, no need to identify fish for possession, no need to retain skin and carcass. Evidently enforcement has a problem with this as they have seen a recent development of operations that use "chase" boats to transport fish back to dock. These boats do not have fishing gear aboard and transport fish for boats still out fishing on the water. Richard withdrew his proposal and law enforcement has offered to meet with him to develop a proposal for 2013 that will address his concerns.
The second proposal was submitted by Rex Murphy and had to do with the management of all halibut removals, more specifically removals of halibut under the legal commercial minimum size limit of 32 inches. All fish over 32 inches are currently accounted for and allocations to user groups made in a sustainable manner. The fish under 32 inches are not.
- The importance of this issue cannot be more clearly emphasized by a statement made by IPHC scientist, Dr. Steven Hare this week. One pound of halibut removal from the halibut population under 32 inches may equate to a future loss yield in the directed commercial halibut fisheries in the amount of 1.2 pounds and 2.2 pounds in the adult female spawning biomass.
- What about the trawl by catch? What about sustainable abundance based management of U32 fish? Why shouldn't trawl by catch be pegged to abundance and be decreased as abundance decreases? The commissioner's took no action on this proposal.
During the Conference Board session, Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association made a motion to reduce release mortality by having charter operators take classes on learning how to carefully release halibut. Bryan Bondiolli stood up and said, "I guess we will learn the proper use of crucifiers!" We along with the Canadians laughed. For those of you who don't know what a "crucifier" is, it's a hook release device that is used by commercial long line fishermen that rips the hook out of the jaws of halibut when they want to release an under sized halibut. Very few survive the trauma.