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Southeast Seiners cull permit holders

Self-imposed reduction shrinks permit holders to 315

Posted: March 12, 2012 - 12:00am

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association National Marine Fisheries Service held a series of public informational meetings in Seattle and Southeast Alaska to discuss capacity reduction of the Southeast Alaska purse seine salmon fishery.

A capacity reduction plan has been approved to determine the industry’s willingness to repay a fishing capacity reduction loan to purchase the permits identified in the reduction plan.

Marine Fisheries held meetings in Seattle, Petersburg, Ketchikan and Sitka to discuss reduction with purse seiners from March 5 to 7.

Marine Fisheries originally recommended 271 permits for Southeast purse seiners, fisherman Robert Thorstenson said. The number was set at 419 in 1974.

Thorstenson said he believes the number should be closer to the recommended 271.

It should be called “re-limited entry,” Thorstenson. “We really should have gotten the numbers out of there,” Thorstenson said.

A pilot buy-back program purchased 35 permits $2.88 million in 2008, Thorstenson said. The current round of cuts would reduce the total further to 315 permits.

Fishermen are paying for this round.

“This part is our own money,” Thorstenson said.

Approximately 200 permits are currently being fished, according to Department of Commerce regulations.

The fishing capacity reduction program was put in place to “prevent or end overfishing, rebuild stocks of fish, or achieve measurable or significant improvements in the conservation and management of the fishery,” according to the NMFS website.  The program buys vessels and permits to meet its goal of maximum sustained reduction in fishing capacity.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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