The untold dirty secret

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 19, 2007

How many people out there have overheard someone saying that they were going to pay for their trip to Alaska by selling some of the halibut they caught charter fishing?

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Since as early as 1992, I have watched individuals at Alaska airports fly out with several wet lock boxes marked halibut. Each of these boxes weigh up to 50 pounds. When I saw an individual with two boxes, I would say that person likes halibut. But when I saw three or more boxes marked halibut, that just didn't add up. The sport catch is for personal use. One would have to throw many dinner parties to use so much fish before it were to go bad.

Even back as far as 1992, there was a limit on individual daily catch, but the commercial charter fishery was, as I understand, just on a voluntary reporting status. And the guideline harvest limit just never seemed to be exceeded.

In about 2000, the commercial charter industry was asked to be a bit more firm with its catch reporting numbers. All of a sudden, when individual fishing quotas were mentioned for the commercial charter industry, the harvest limit was being exceeded.

Maybe the charter industry has been exceeding the harvest limit for quite some time and just hasn't been too concerned with accurate reporting. But now that it has become an allocation issue, there is a lot of back peddling and stalling so that some poundage history might be recorded.

Maybe the airline industry in Alaska should be surveyed back to 1992 to see how many wet lock boxes left Alaska as baggage, then multiply that number by 50. We might be surprised at how long the harvest limit has been exceeded.

All commercial user groups need to be held accountable for their allocation. It's time to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Bill Connor


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