Sunday, May 17, 2020

N.Council Emergency Decision on Relaxed Charter Halibut Regulations

The North Council (NPFMC) held an Emergency Meeting today to address critical issues resulting from the pandemic.

The Council voted to approve a request from the charter industry to change 2020 halibut regulations for guided anglers and allow:

In 2C:
  • One fish daily bag limit, slot limit: U45 O80

In 3A:
  • Charter fishing 7 days a week
  • 2 fish daily bag limit, 1 fish any size, 2nd fish 32"or less
  • No annual limit, one charter trip per day

In both areas, the regulations would remain in place through the rest of the season.

It is unclear from the discussion how long the official regulatory processes will take. It involves the state, the feds and the international Halibut Commission. The NMFS representative reported that it might take 5 weeks to enact the change. The Council asked all agencies to act quickly.

The Council considered an option to end the relaxed regs when the travel restrictions were lifted, but rejected that to extend the rules through the rest of the season.

The Council expressed caution about going over the catch limits for 2020, but found little evidence that would happen this season given the extreme circumstances.

Council member Capt. Andy Mezirow made the motion and spoke to the unprecedented nature of the measure and to the extent of the economic distress not only in the charter industry but also the entire Alaskan tourism industry and local communities. The second fish limit of 32" was proposed because of the Council's concern about exceeding the original allocation.

The IPHC has to approve the measures, and it could act fairly quickly. Federal rules take longer, and we will find out more soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment