JUNEAU - NOAA Fisheries would like to remind sport charter fishing operators in Southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska that the April 5 deadline to apply for a permit to operate in 2011 is approaching.
"If you don't apply before April 5 this year, you won't get a permit, even if you qualify otherwise," Jim Balsiger, administrator of NOAA Fisheries' Alaska Region, said.
Staff with the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries have sent application packets with blank forms to all operators they believe to be eligible, and that they have current addresses for.
NOAA Fisheries' Alaska Region estimates that 527 businesses will apply for a total of 920 permits under the new limited license program. As of March 15, NOAA Fisheries had received applications from over 400 businesses.
The new limited access program will limit the number of operators in the sport charter halibut fisheries in International Pacific Halibut Commission regulatory areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska).
Permits will be issued to qualifying individuals or businesses that documented fishing trips - in state log books - during a qualifying year (2004 or 2005) and in the recent participation year, 2008.
Charter halibut operators will be required to carry their new permits on board starting February 1, 2011.
Details are available at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gove/sustainablefisheries/halibut/sport.htm.