After reviewing ADF&G’s analysis of potential charter management measures and the recommendations of the Charter Halibut Management Committee, the Council established preliminary recommendations for 2020 charter measures in Areas 2C and 3A.
For Area 2C, the Council recommends a progression of catch restrictions that would be applied in an additive measure to status quo measures until the area’s charter allocation – as set by the IPHC in February 2020 – will be achieved. The baseline measure is a U40/O80 reverse slot limit. If that measure is not sufficient to limit anticipated catch to the allocation, fishing will be closed on Wednesdays in addition to the reverse slot. Wednesday closures would begin on September 9, 2020 and additional Wednesday closures would be applied in sequence moving toward the beginning of the calendar year. If that combination of measures will not reach the allocation, a four-fish annual angler limit would also be applied. If further reduction to projected catch is required, the annual limit would be reduced to three fish. Any further reduction required beyond what is achieved with the reverse slot, Wednesday closures throughout the year, and a three-fish annual limit would be achieved by reducing the maximum size limit on the low end of the slot from 40” to a smaller fish (e.g., 39”). Finally, if an annual limit is adopted in Area 2C, charter anglers would be required to record the date and location (IPHC area) on their harvest record upon retaining a halibut – as is currently required in Area 3A.
For Area 3A, none of the management measure options analyzed by ADF&G for this meeting were projected to achieve a harvest level in line with the goal of 1.24 million pounds identified at the IPHC’s interim meeting in November 2019. Due to this unprecedented situation, the Council identified a preliminary recommendation that would achieve harvest at the status quo 3A charter allocation. The Council also instructed the Charter Halibut Management Committee’s 3A representatives to convene a public teleconference meeting prior to the Jan/Feb 2020 Council meeting and the IPHC’s February 2020 Annual Meeting at which they will make recommendations on management measures that could achieve a 1.24 million pound harvest. The timing of that meeting and instructions for public accessibility will be noticed in the Federal Register and publicized on the NPFMC website in the coming weeks. The Council’s preliminary recommendation for Area 3A is to maintain the status quo management measures with the additional measures of closing all Tuesdays (in addition to all Wednesdays) and reducing the maximum size of the second fish in the existing two-fish bag limit from 28” to 26” or less.
Staff contacts are Sam Cunningham and Steve MacLean.