My turn: No shortage of halibut, only parity

Why is only 15 percent of halibut allocation is awarded to sport fishery?

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Both Alaska halibut and Alaska oil are public resources. Alaska halibut, like Alaska oil, is owned by the people of Alaska.

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When commercial oil companies sell Alaska oil resources for profit, they are required to pay a fair share into the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is then distributed to the people of Alaska as a dividend, as it should be.

Likewise - to be fair - when commercial fishermen sell Alaska halibut for profit, they should also be required to pay a fair share into the Alaska Permanent Fund to be distributed to the people of Alaska. The people of Alaska are being shortchanged by the commercial fishing interests. The keyword here is "commercial."

The state needs to hurry to complete the economic impact study on the effect that tourism has on the economy of Alaska before the one-halibut limit is imposed on charter and sport fishermen by the commercial fishing interests, in other words, the North Pacific Fisheries Council. That way, the devastating effect on the economy of Alaska can be easily measured before and after the limit is introduced. The commercial halibut fishing interests in Alaska have plans that will devastate Alaska tourism.

Why is it that only 15 percent of the Alaska halibut resource allocation is awarded to the sport fishery, and 85 percent is awarded to the commercial fishery? Is it because they awarded it to themselves? (Which they did.) Why is it not equally divided 50-50? The commercial fishery not only has the 85 percent lion's share, but now they also want to take away 50 percent of the small sport fishery share by reducing the sport fishing daily catch limit from two halibut to one so they can catch and sell that fish, too.

Something smells either a) fishy, b) to high heaven, c) rotten in Denmark, d) rotten in Alaska, e) greedy, or f) all of the above. Everywhere else in the United States, the fishery resource is divided equally between the sport fishery and commercial fishery, as it should be. The time has come for that to happen in Alaska, also.

Instead of the commercial fishing proposal to decrease by 50 percent, the daily catch limit of sport-caught halibut from two fish to one per day, the sport fishery should propose to increase the daily catch limit of sport-caught halibut from two fish to three per day. The sport fishery already gets the short end of the stick when it comes to Alaska halibut resource allocation. The commercial fishery now receives 85 percent of the total allocation. A three-halibut per-day sport-catch limit would be a step in the right direction toward achieving parity between the Alaska sport fishery and the commercial fishery. There is no shortage of halibut, only a shortage of parity.

The charter sport fishing interests in Alaska need to petition the court on three issues:

1. Petition the court to impose an injunction declaring a moratorium against any regulation of the halibut sport fishery by the North Pacific Fisheries Council until such time as a fair and equal split of the halibut resource allocation is awarded between the sport fishery and the commercial fishery. The North Pacific Fisheries Council is made up of mostly commercial fisherman.

2. Petition the court for a 50-50 split of the Alaska halibut resource allocation between the sport fishery and the commercial fishery. The commercial fishery now receives 85 percent of the halibut resources allocation.

3. Petition the court for a 50-50 representation of sport fishery members and commercial fishery members on the North Pacific Fisheries Council, which is now made up of mostly commercial fishermen.

The charter sport fishermen's new motto is "No regulation without equal representation."

• Bruce Warner is a resident of Homer.



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