At this meeting the Council reviewed a supplemental analysis from ADF&G of potential charter halibut management measures for implementation in Area 3A in 2020 and identified their recommended management measures for implementation in 2020.
In December 2019 the Charter Halibut Management Committee was not able to identify management measures for Area 3A that would meet the reference level of halibut removals specified at the IPHC interim meeting, but did identify management measures for Area 2C that the Council recommended for implementation. The committee held a teleconference on January 23 to evaluate additional measures for Area 3A that could achieve the reference TCEY. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) conducted a supplemental analysis to evaluate additional management measures requested by the committee. The Committee and Council’s recommended management measures include the status quo measures, unless otherwise specified: daily bag limit of 2 halibut, an annual limit of 4 halibut per charter angler, Wednesdays closed to halibut retention all year, 1 trip per halibut charter vessel per day, and 1 trip per charter halibut permit per day.
If the allocation is less than 2.014 million pounds, but greater than 1.95 million pounds: a daily bag limit of 2 halibut with one fish of any size and one fish less than or equal to 26 inches, close Tuesdays to halibut retention, according to Table 1 on p 15 of the Supplemental Analysis, such that the projected removals achieve the allocation. The specific Tuesdays closed to retention are specified on Table 22, p.38 of the December 3 analysis.
If the allocation is less than 1.695 million pounds, but greater than or equal to 1.588 million pounds: a daily bag limit of 2 halibut with one fish of any size and one fish less than or equal to 26 inches, all Tuesdays closed to halibut retention, close Thursdays to halibut retention to a maximum of four Thursday closures according to Table 5, p. 19 of the Supplemental Analysis and specified on Table 4, p. 18 of the Supplemental Analysis, such that projected removals achieve the allocation.
If the allocation is less than 1.588 million pounds: all Tuesdays closed to halibut retention, a daily bag limit of one halibut with a reverse (protected) slot limit with the upper limit fixed at 80 inches and the lower limit starting at 58 inches and adjusted according to Appendix Table A5-0, p. 75 of the Supplemental Analysis such that projected removals achieve the allocation.
The charter halibut management committee report contains statements from Area 2C and Area 3A representatives that the restrictions placed on the charter fleet in both areas is likely to result in a number of charter businesses and other support businesses closing in fishing communities around the State. Council members acknowledged the “very real and severe economic challenges” that the proposed regulations for 2020 will create, and also acknowledged that additional challenges are likely to occur in the near future.
The Council also reviewed and approved suggested language to clarify the Council’s intent in IPHC proposal IPHC-2020-AM096-PropB1 that described the Council’s proposed management measures for Area 2C charter halibut fishing in 2020.