I read the article "Halibut plan splits group" on Nov. 2 in the Anchorage Daily News and would like to share some additional perspectives. Ms. Bondioli states that the charter fisherman would need to purchase 24,000 pounds to service clients and that there are 1,000 charter boat operators. 24,000 pounds times 1,000 charter boats would equate to a charter harvest of 24 million pounds, but in the figures just recently released for 2004 by Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the statewide charter industry harvested just under 5.5 million pounds total. This exceeded the guideline harvest level (GHL) put in place for the charter industry.
In the initial issuance of charter halibut IFQ shares statewide 5.08 million pounds would be issued, which is close to the amount caught in 2004. This math leads me to the conclusion that only 420,000 pounds total (or 420 pounds per charter boat) would need to be purchased to maintain the current catch levels that exceeded the GHL and would not cost the charter industry as much as they claim. If the charter industry does not support and allow the implementation of the halibut charter IFQ program they will be capped at the GHL and the fishery limited by annual regulatory actions or closed in season to prevent the over-harvest of the halibut resource.
But, if the charter IFQ program was to be enacted it would benefit the charter industry by allowing for future growth in the charter industry without harming the resource. It allows them to purchase additional IFQ from the commercial sector. In the plan recommended by the council, quota shares could be purchased from the commercial sector by the charter industry but the original issuance of charter quota would not be transferable to the commercial sector, always guaranteeing a core amount of charter IFQ shares.
The combined halibut IFQ program for commercial and charter fishermen will protect the resource for future generations from being overfished and eliminate the cost to federal taxpayers and industry of annual allocation battles. This market-based solution serves the public well and provides stability to both the small businesses that comprise the charter and commercial sectors.