I would like to respond to Rick Bierman's recent letter, though I really wish I didn't have to.
I'm exhausted with all the bickering about allocation between the commercial and charter halibut fleets. Bierman refers to his clients as the public (though they represent a very small percentage of the public - those financially able to purchase a few hours or days aboard a charter boat.)
Bierman claims his clients would be buying back what they have historically caught if they were leasing. I only wish that were true. The fact is, if the amount of halibut caught by the charter fleet was similar to the amount caught when Individual Fishing Quotas were implemented for the commercial fleet, we wouldn't be facing these problems now. Someone dropped the ball in management and now there is hell to pay.
You can't keep adding boats and clients and more lodges and expect to be able to keep the status quo as far as the number of fish available to catch. When people enter the commercial charter business or build a new lodge, they do so with the knowledge that some risk is involved; yet it appears that they want a guarantee of success.
Somehow, these issues need to be resolved. Either through a limit to the number of charter boats or the number of fish caught or leasing quota from the commercial fleet. No one wants to give up anything, but in order for everyone to survive, sacrifices will have to be made.
The commercial longline fleet in area 2A has sacrificed 47 percent of its quota in the last two years alone. It's time for the commercial charter fleet to step up to the plate and come up with a workable plan for the sake of the fishery, or we'll all be on the beach.
Commercial fisherman with small IFQ
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