The Council recommended the following management measures for charter halibut fisheries in Areas 2C and 3A for application in 2019, in order to achieve the charter halibut allocation under the Council’s Halibut Catch Sharing Plan:
- If the allocation is 0.81 million pounds: one fish per day with a reverse slot limit that allows retention of halibut less than or equal to 38 inches, or greater than or equal to 80 inches (U38:O80). No annual limit.
- If the allocation is above or below 081 million pounds, adjust the lower limit of the reverse slot limit up or down to keep the projected harvest within the allocation.
- Two fish daily bag limit.
- Retention of one fish of any size and a maximum size limit of 28 inches on the second fish
- One charter vessel fishing trip for CHP per day (use of each charter halibut permit is limited to one charter halibut fishing trip per boat in one calendar day)
- 4-fish annual limit, requirement to record retained halibut on the ADF&G fishing license or harvest record card.
- Prohibition on the retention of halibut on Wednesdays, all year.
- Adjust Tuesday retention closure according to Table 15 in the ADF&G analysis of proposed harvest regulations for 2019 to bring the projected harvest within the Area 3A allocation.
- If the allocation is above 2.023 million pounds, adjust the size of the second fish, up to a maximum of 30 inches, to keep the harvest within their allocation.
The Council selected these management measures following review of the ADF&G analysis of proposed management measures for 2019, and after receiving input from the Charter Halibut Management Committee which includes stakeholder representatives from both Areas 2C and 3A. Area 2C representatives noted that the Status Quo regulations project a harvest that is above their projected allocation, but feel that the projected overage is due to an optimistic estimate of angler effort. Area 2C representatives feel that the smaller lower limit of the reverse slot imposed in 2018 will result in lower bookings for 2019, and report that bookings to date for 2019 are below bookings for 2018 at the same point last year. Area 2C representatives feel that Status Quo measures will keep the area 2C charter sector within 0.81 million pounds.
Area 3A representatives feel that a 28% increase in area 3A distributed mortality may not be a realistic outcome of the January IPHC meeting. Continued large fluctuations in distributed mortality and management measures that attempt to address these fluctuations, either up or down, are not good for business planning. Area 3A representatives feel that although restricting the upper limit of the maximum size of the second fish may result in some halibut “left in the water”, management measures requested for analysis did not include a second fish larger than 30 inches and recognize that the charter halibut fishery in area 3A has been over their allocation in recent years. Therefore, representatives felt that it is reasonable to limit the area 3A charter catch to 2.088 million pounds, the maximum projected catch with no closed Tuesdays and a 30-inch limit on the second fish.
The Council noted the recommendation from the Charter Halibut Management Committee to reduce halibut harvest limits for unguided anglers in times of low halibut abundance, but did not take action at this time. This would require an amendment to the Council’s Halibut Catch Sharing Plan. The Council may consider revisiting the issue if the new State of Alaska administration determines interest in pursuing this option.
Staff contact is Steve MacLean