Wednesday, March 28, 2018

USA Today: Go fish: Under President Trump, changing political tide opens water for anglers

WASHINGTON – President Trump is known for hitting the golf course, but his administration is now putting the power of the presidency behind another favorite American pastime: fishing.

During his little more than a year in office, the president has promoted the iconic, multibillion-dollar recreational fishing industry that felt marginalized under the previous administration. Barack Obama routinely sided with environmental advocates concerned about long-term damage from overfishing, but Trump, the father of two avid anglers, has tacked in a new direction.

Go fish: Under President Trump, changing political tide opens water for anglers

Federal Register: Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Open for Public Comment (due April 19)

The International Pacific Halibut Commission met for a week in January but the Canadian and American sides could not agree on catch limits. It's a confusing legal territory and we have to feel sorry for the staff that is forced to crank out this regulatory sausage. From the summary of the Federal Rule, followed by a link to the full document:

"NMFS is implementing this interim final rule to establish regulations for 2018 Pacific halibut catch limits in the following International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) Regulatory Areas: Area 2C (Southeast Alaska), Area 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska), Area 3B (Western Gulf of Alaska), and Area 4 (subdivided into five areas, 4A through 4E, in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of Western Alaska).

"This interim final rule revises a catch sharing plan (CSP) for guided sport (charter) and commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, revises regulations applicable to the charter halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, and revises a CSP for the commercial IFQ and Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) halibut fisheries in Areas 4C, 4D, and 4E. 

"This action is necessary because the IPHC, at its annual meeting, did not recommend new catch limits or specific CSP allocations and charter management measures for Areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, and 4E for 2018, and the 2017 IPHC regulations are in effect until superseded. This interim final rule is necessary because immediate action is needed to ensure that halibut catch limits, charter halibut fishery management measures, and CSP allocations are in place at the start of the commercial IFQ and CDQ halibut fishery on March 24, 2018, that better protect the declining Pacific halibut resource. 

"This action is intended to enhance the conservation of Pacific halibut and is within the authority of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to establish additional regulations governing the taking of halibut which are more restrictive than those adopted by the IPHC.

Effective March 19, 2018, through December 31, 2018. Comments must be received by April 19, 2018.

Open Comments on the Federal Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (Due April 19)

Click Here for the Final Rule.

Enviros Alarmed: "The Rise of the Recreational Fishing Lobby"

"In 1976, when Congress first passed comprehensive legislation to begin managing the nation’s fisheries, its primary goal was to push foreign factory fishing fleets further from U.S. shores.1 At the time—however absurd it seems now—there was no legal mechanism in place to prevent other countries’ vessels from vacuuming out waters as close as 12 nautical miles from shore. On fair days, Russian trawlers could be seen from the beaches of Massachusetts and the rocky coasts of Alaska.

Recreational fishing was an afterthought for federal regulators. The concept of overfishing—defined as taking more fish out of the ocean in a year than the remaining population can replace—was still new, so policymakers did not consider that anglers with rods and reels, primarily casting from the beach or small pleasure boats near shore, could cause ecological damage. In addition, the vast majority of recreational fishing was carried out in state waters, which, in most states, extend to just three nautical miles from shore."

NOAA walks back talk of renegotiating halibut treaty

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration removed a reference to renegotiating the “Halibut Treaty” between the U.S. and Canada from a press release Wednesday. NOAA issued the release Monday to announce the final regulatory rule for the 2018 halibut season, but later removed the reference."

Click here to read the full story from KBBI Radio in Homer, AK.