• Meeting tonight at Land’s End, 7 p.m., to begin local education, planning efforts
A new plan to change halibut allocations for Homer-area charter boat customers is up for public comment. A special meeting planned for 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, at the Land’s End Resort is to discuss the proposal and draft a plan for action to educate the public about what the new structure would mean.
A 45-day comment period ends on Sept. 6. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s draft rule for a Catch Sharing Plan has been reviewed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. It recommended changes to establish a clear allocation between the commercial and charter sectors that fish in southeast and central Alaska.
Currently, the commercial and charter halibut fisheries are managed under different programs. The commercial halibut fishery has been managed under a catch limit program since 1995. The charter halibut sector has been managed under a different harvest guideline since 2003, which gives charter fishermen a number of fish they can catch per guided angler per day, but does not ensure the overall catch stays within a definitive catch limit.
The proposed catch sharing plan, which is scheduled to be in place by 2012, is designed to prevent over-harvesting of halibut and would introduce provisions that provide flexibility for charter and commercial fishermen, NPFMC said in a release.
Charter harvest limits would be determined before the beginning of the charter fishing season, which generally runs from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, to enable charter business operators and anglers to plan for the upcoming season.
The catch sharing plan also would authorize transfers of commercial halibut individual fishing quota to charter halibut permit holders for harvest by anglers in the charter halibut fishery.
Those transfers would offer charter vessel anglers in southeastern Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska an opportunity to catch additional halibut, up to specified limits.
To help work on a local plan for action and education, call Chris Donich at 235-3848.
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