Comment period opens on halibut charter proposal

Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ANCHORAGE - People wanting to weigh in on a proposal to limit the growing halibut charter boat business in southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska now have an opportunity.

A comment period on the program proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in effect until June 5.

Under the program, permits would be limited to individuals and businesses that could prove they had participated in the fishery in recent years. Newcomers would be able to enter the charter halibut fishery only if they could purchase an existing permit.

"The guided sport charter halibut sector has been growing steadily in recent years," Doug Mecum, NOAA's acting regional administrator, said in a statement. "The proposed limited access program is intended to stabilize the guided charter sector while maintaining access to the halibut charter fishery for small rural coastal areas."

Charter halibut permit holders also would be limited on the number of permits they could hold, as well as the number of anglers who could catch and keep halibut on their boats.

Under the program, permits could be issued to community quota groups representing specific rural communities.

Independent sport fishermen and subsistence fishermen are not included under the proposed restrictions.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to develop the proposed limited access program in March 2007.



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