In response to Mike Saunders' lament ("Halibut conservation should be spread across the range" on Dec. 20) over the loss of 20 percent of his allowable catch last year and another 27 percent reduction this year: I feel your pain, as does every sport-fisherperson who hires a charter boat to transport him or her to the fishing grounds.
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Last year, guided sport fishermen were allowed to take two fish, but one was required to be under 32 inches. For most, this was perceived as half of a fish, or a 25 percent reduction in what was allowable to take.
With the implementation of the coast-wide assessment model, the allowable catch has decreased again this year. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council has already announced that when the step-down is triggered, they will limit guided anglers to one fish per day, no more than three fish per year and possibly put an under-32-inch size limit on it as well.
If we consider under-32-inch fish to be half of the fish I used to catch, that's a 75 percent reduction in my allowable catch. Never mind the canceled bookings because, as one of my long- time clients said, "It's just not worth the trek to Alaska for one halibut."
Commercial or Charter, fishermen are really all in the same boat. I'll happily buy the first round the next time Mike and his buddies are in Juneau. I empathize with you, really. (Maybe you could put in a good word for charter operators at the next ALFA meeting so they'll quit booing me out of Petersburg?)
Case E. Harris
Captain, Alaskan MarineAdventures LLC
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