Thursday, December 26, 2019

Halibut charter operators brace for more cuts in 2020

Elizabeth Earl
For the Journal
Post date:
Wed, 12/18/2019 - 10:25am

"The continued decline of Pacific halibut stocks in Alaska’s waters is putting increasing pressure on the charter fleets in Southcentral and Southeast as they try to attract clients.

Though the International Pacific Halibut Commission has yet to formally decide on catch limits for the various sectors, survey data discussed at the commission’s interim meeting in November indicates that catch limits are likely to go down to keep the stock within acceptable limits in the future. The Gulf of Alaska is down in particular, with fishermen there facing more restrictions in the future to maintain a healthy stock.

"Because the council won’t know what the sector allocations are until the first week of February, when the IPHC will meet in Anchorage, the council recommended a progressive set of recommendations for the charter fleet that become more restrictive as the catch limit goes down.

"In Area 2C, which covers Southeast Alaska, the measures begin with instituting a reverse slot limit with an upper limit fixed at longer than 80 inches and a lower limit increasing until the allocation is reached, and progress to closing some Wednesdays and decreasing the lower size limit until the allocation is reached.

"In Area 3A, which covers the central Gulf of Alaska, the situation is different because there isn’t as much information available to analyze what could be done to decrease the charter fleet harvest. Until more information is available, the council recommended maintaining status quo management measures with the addition of closed Tuesdays throughout the year and reducing the size of the second allowed fish on charter boards from 28 inches to 26 inches or less."

Read More at the Alaska Journal of Commerce

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Alaska Charter Association Membership

The Alaska Charter Association recognizes those businesses that have contributed their valuable support to the effort for the 2020 season.

If you do not see your business on this list, please let us know and we will sign you up:

Every holiday season we renew our memberships and it can sometimes slip your mind when it's time to pitch in and pay your annual dues. 

The dues are used to keep track of ongoing regulations, threats to our fisheries, and it helps defray the expense of traveling to the public meetings when you can't make it. Do yourself a favor and be a part of this.

Many lodges also enroll their hired guides and skippers in an Associate membership. It's a great way to keep staff informed of the management issues and add to your contribution to the ACA.

Make sure they're on the ACA mailing list and they will receive every monthly newsletter. It's their fishery too! Many young guides have no idea how Alaska's fisheries are managed and how they can play a role in improving our success. Get 'em started early.

Captain Jimmy Akana

Lost in Alaska Adventures LLC

Anglers Lodge AK

Captain Greg's Charters

Saltwater Safari Company

D & G Charters

Kodiak Adventures Lodge

Waterfall Resort

Daniel's Personalized Guide Service

Sportsman's Cove Lodge

Kodiak Island Charters

Bottom Line Charters

Alaska's Boardwalk Lodge

Maverick Charters

Ninilchik Charters

Dakota Ocean Charters LLC


Miller's Landing Inc.

Moore Charters LLC

Hill Norvell Ak Fishing

Doc Warner's Alaska Fishing

Chinook Shores, Inc

Alaska Premier Charters

Shelter Lodge

Monday, December 9, 2019

North Council Decisions for 2020 Halibut Regulations

North Council Decisions for 2020 Halibut Regulations
More Analysis Needed for Unprecedented Cuts to Charter Halibut Regulations
As we reported in the last issue of the Alaska Charter News, the new stock assessment for Pacific Halibut from the International Pacific Halibut Commission reflected a steep decline in the resource available to directed fisheries, especially in Area 3A.

New research produced a startling fact about the commercial longliner catch: 90% of the landings are females.

This did not come as a surprise as processors pay a premium for larger halibut, which tend to be female.

As a result of feeding this "new" info into the stock assessment, 3A suffered a recalculation of past fishing intensity and the need to scale back fishing intensity to fit the new modeling of the stock.

While a 46% Spawning Recruitment Ratio (SPR46, or the old "Blue Line") was a historic reference point we tried to maintain, we were actually fishing at closer to an SPR40 (higher intensity).

Adjusting for this new reference point shifted the coastwide target removals from historically being around 40 Mlbs. to now being 31.9 Mlbs. at SPR46. So the halibut stock size is relatively stable, but the reference points that guide our harvest decisions has shifted.

As a result, Area 2C and 3A sport harvest allocations are facing drastic reductions for 2020, as much as 25% in Area 3A and 21% for Area 2C.

The Charter Halibut Committee struggled with arriving at recommendations for meeting the new reference point of 1.2 million pounds in 3A. While the recommendations for 2C were adopted by the Committee, they requested more analysis on additional measures and more time to consider them.

Here is the Charter Halibut Committee Report. It reflects the discussion by the Committee on both 2020 Halibut Options and the Unguided Rental Boat agenda item.

The Council heard an impressive amount of quality public testimony from the charter industry, and decided to delay a final decision until the February meeting. There will be additional analysis by staff and more time for our industry to make a final choice.

Several Council members praised the testimony of the stakeholders in the charter industry who showed up and testified in person. Following the twists and turns of the Council process can be frustrating hard work, but charter captains, lodge owners and members of the fishing public all gave powerful testimony.
Council Adopts Options for 2C:
"In Area 2C – A progression of management measures in the following order:

  1. A reverse slot with an upper limit fixed at O80, and a lower limit raised until the
  2. allocation is reached, but no lower than U40; Yield 0.772 million pounds.
  3. If the allocation is insufficient to maintain at least a U40 on the lower limit, add Wednesday closures beginning on September 9th and work consecutively toward the beginning of the season until a lower limit of U40 is reached; Yield 0.658 million pounds.
  4. If a lower limit of U40 can’t be reached after closing all Wednesdays, add a 4-fish annual limit in addition to closing all Wednesdays, and use any unused allocation to increase the lower limit above U40 until the allocation is reached; Yield 0.646 million pounds.
  5. If a lower limit of U40 can’t be reached by closing all Wednesdays and adding a 4-fish annual limit, reduce the annual limit to 3 fish in addition to closing all Wednesdays, and use any unused allocation to increase the lower limit above U40 until the allocation is reached; Yield 0.615 million pounds.

If the allocation is not reached, decrease the lower limit below U40 until the allocation is reached; Yield 0.599 million pounds at U39.
If an annual limit is adopted in Area 2C, implement a requirement for charter anglers to record, immediately upon retaining a halibut, the date, location (IPHC area), and species (halibut) on their harvest record, consistent with the current reporting requirement in Area 3A."
Council Decisions on 3A:

"In Area 3A the preliminary recommendation is:

Status quo TCEY. Maintain status quo management measures, except:
  1. Closure of Tuesdays throughout the year; and
  2. Reduce size of a second fish from 28” to 26” or less;

Yield 1.696 million pounds.

For Reference TCEY, additional information needs to be provided to propose management measures to meet the harvest goal of 1.24 million pounds.

The Council requests that ADF&G staff analyze a wider range of management measure options to include combining day of the week closures and reverse slot limits to achieve harvest goals specified by the IPHC. The committee will be allowed to make a recommendation, based on that analysis, in the form of a publicly noticed teleconference taking place prior to the Council’s February 2020 meeting and the IPHC’s 2020 Annual Meeting. The Council intends to review and adopt the Committee’s recommended management measures at the February 2020 meeting."
Council Votes Against Unguided Rental Boat Registration
Responding to public testimony from the charter industry, the Council did not adopt any of the rental boat registration alternatives which included aligning the bag limits with those of guided anglers.

Staff pointed out many difficulties with collecting useful data with any boat registration alone. There was support from the public - even from lodges in 2C that rent boats to clients - for some kind of annual registration to collect more information about this "sector" because it's hard to oppose more data and information.

Yet the staff pointed out that a lot of work needed to be done if useful catch data would be collected, and two of Alaska's largest charter boat trade associations, ACA and SEAGO, questioned the cost-benefit ratio of the proposal.

The ACA board of directors had a full discussion of this proposal. Board members represent businesses that rent boats and charter fish too. ACA members include businesses that rent boats at their lodge, members who have a single charter boat, some rent and charter both.

After listening to the staff analysis of the proposal, not many Council members were enthusiastic about it.

Here is the motion, passed unanimously -

"The Council takes no further action at this time. The Council requests that staff coordinate with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Region, and recreational stakeholders to explore alternative non-regulatory methods to quantify the number and geographic scope of non-guided rental boat activities in recreational halibut fisheries off Alaska."