Monday, April 24, 2017

Public Meeting to Review Recreational Halibut Fishing Regulations: in Homer, Wednesday April 26th @6pm

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Sport Fish, Alaska State Troopers, and US Coast Guard will be hosting a public meeting for sport anglers and charter operators April 26, 2017 from 6 to 8pm at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer. The purpose of the meeting is to review sport fishing regulatory changes stemming from recent Board of Fisheries meetings, address questions regarding saltwater charter logbooks, and to review vessel and boating safety tips.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

U.S. Reps. Graves, Green, Webster, Wittman Champion Federal Saltwater Fisheries Reform


Washington, D.C. - April 6, 2017 - The recreational fishing and boating community praised the introduction of a bill that addresses critical challenges facing saltwater recreational fishing at the federal level. Led by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the "Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017" (Modern Fish Act) would improve public access to America's federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources and spur economic growth.

"On behalf of America's 11 million saltwater anglers, we thank Congressmen Graves, Green, Webster and Wittman for championing this legislation to modernize federal recreational fishing management," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. "For decades, the recreational fishing community has been subjected to antiquated federal policies not designed to manage recreational fishing. The time is now to update these policies so families can fully enjoy our nation's remarkable marine resources and continue a proud American tradition on the water."

The Modern Fish Act addresses many of the recreational fishing community's priorities including allowing alternative management for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fishery stocks, establishing exemptions where annual catch limits don't fit and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.
"We applaud the introduction of the Modern Fish Act in the House and the efforts of Rep. Graves and his colleagues to modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public's natural resources by boaters and anglers," said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich. "We appreciate the Congressmen's support for better management of our recreational fisheries that will bring federal management into the 21st century."

"Getting more Americans outdoors and enjoying our wonderful natural treasures, including in saltwater spaces, requires updating and modernizing federal management approaches," said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association. "The Modern Fish Act addresses the core issues within federal saltwater fisheries management that are limiting the public's ability to enjoy saltwater recreational fishing, and will help maximize the economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation."

"This legislation reflects the vision and commitment of the recreational angling community to work with Congress and NOAA to provide quality angling opportunities for all stakeholders," said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. "We commend Congressmen Graves, Green, Webster and Wittman for providing a pathway to better management of America's marine fisheries in the future."

"For decades in federal fisheries management, recreational fishing was always an afterthought," explained Jim Donofrio executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. "The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act introduced by Congressman Graves and his colleagues finally addresses the specific needs of the recreational fishing community; stands to bring parity to fisheries management and will get anglers back on the water."

The coalition of groups supporting the Modern Fish Act includes American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundationand Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Fishing-industry groups blast WA Gov. Inslee over his picks for North Council



"Gov. Jay Inslee’s handling of nominations for a federal fishery-council seat has come under attack from the leaders of major North Pacific fishing-industry groups, which have taken the unusual step of sending a complaint letter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Industry officials criticize Inslee for bucking the list of three nominees provided by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Instead, the governor made some of his own picks in what they say was a flawed process that denied most of the industry meaningful input. ... read more...


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

MRIP Releases Five-Year Strategic Plan; Seeks Public Comment

Today, MRIP released its draft five-year Strategic Plan and is requesting input on the Plan from our partners and stakeholders. Developed by a Working Group with broad federal and regional representation, the Plan lays out a clear, well-defined strategy for continuing to improve our survey methods while providing a sound basis for implementing new and expanded surveys through a system of regional partnerships.

The Plan emphasizes enhancing collaboration with partners, meeting customer needs, ensuring sound science and quality products, and improving communications with partners and stakeholders. It identifies specific strategies, tactics, outcomes, metrics, and timelines for achieving these goals. The document also articulates MRIP's mission, vision, and values, and provides a detailed history and major milestones of the Program.

We are seeking public feedback as part of MRIP's ongoing commitment to improving our surveys through collaboration among federal, regional, and state agencies, and the saltwater recreational fishing community. Incorporating comments from scientists, managers, fishermen, and others is a critical step in ensuring that the Strategic Plan guides MRIP in a direction that will ensure the sustainability of recreational fishing today, and for generations to come.

We welcome all input, and are particularly interested in whether the goals, strategies, and tactics we've outlined are likely to meet partner and stakeholder needs, as well as achieve the mission and vision stated in the Plan.

The document and details on providing feedback can be found on the homepage of the MRIP website, countmyfish.noaa.gov. Comments are due by June 30, 2017.


Ask MRIP

Do you have questions about MRIP or our surveys? Ask us and we'll answer your question in an upcoming newsletter. If you've got a question about MRIP that you'd like answered, please e-mail Dave Bard at david.bard@noaa.gov.

To learn more about improvements MRIP is making, visit our website at countmyfish.noaa.gov.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

AK Guided Halibut Regulations Approved for 2017:

NMFS Adopts New Charter Halibut Regulations for 2017

On March 3, the new 2017 regulations for the halibut fishery became effective. These regulations include a few changes from 2016 affecting the charter halibut sector.  

Unguided halibut sport fishers in Alaska will continue to observe a daily bag limit of 2 fish any size per person per day. 

A quick-reference summary of the regulations for charter halibut anglers is available on the NMFS website (link). Summaries are also being sent by U.S. mail to all charter halibut permit holders.

New regulations for 2017 are as follows: 

In Area 2C (Southeast Alaska):
Reverse slot limit: Retained halibut must be less than or equal to 44 inches or greater than or equal to 80 inches in length. This reverse slot limit allows anglers to keep halibut less than approximately 30 pounds and greater than 208 pounds, after the head and guts have been removed. The lower size limit of the reverse slot limit was increased by one inch from 2016 regulations.
In Area 3A (Southcentral Alaska):
Tuesday closure: Charter vessel anglers may not catch and retain halibut (except GAF) on three Tuesdays in 2017: July 18, July 25, and August 1. These Tuesday closures are new for 2017 and are in addition to the Wednesday closure for the entire season.

The complete International Pacific Halibut Commission Annual Management Measures as published in the Federal Register are also available on the NMFS website (link).
The sport fishing regulations for Alaska are in Sections 25 and 28.

For more information about sport halibut regulations, visit NOAA Fisheries' Alaska Regional Sportfishing website. 

Questions or comments? Contact Julie Scheurer, Regional Recreational Fisheries Coordinator, at 907-586-7111 or julie.scheurer@noaa.gov.