At this meeting, the Council considered an Initial Review Analysis of options to establish a fee collection program for charter vessel operators to fund the Recreational Quota Entity (RQE), and released it for final action. The analysis evaluates NMFS as the primary fee collection agency under different options. Two mechanisms are considered: 1) a charter halibut stamp mechanism and 2) an annual operator fee mechanism. A charter halibut stamp would require charter operators to purchase a halibut stamp for each guided angler, for each day that the charter angler is on a charter vessel that intends to harvest halibut operating in IPHC regulatory areas 2C and 3A. An annual operator fee mechanism would be an administrative action tied to the renewal of a Charter Halibut Permit (CHP) and scaled to the angler effort associated with that CHP. The analysis highlights the benefits and challenges of each option, as well as aspects that require further consideration.
All options that propose a fee be collected by NMFS from charter operators require U.S. Congressional action, to provide the fee collection authority as well as to allow for the appropriation of collected funds back to the RQE. This action is currently being considered in Congress under Senate Bill S.273. The bill passed in the Senate on September 14, 2021 and will next be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Council recommended releasing the analysis for final action and identified the charter halibut stamp concept as the preliminary preferred alternative. The Council also recommends that the Charter Halibut Management Committee review the current analysis prior to their October meeting and provide their recommendations to the Council prior to Final Action.
The Charter Halibut Management Committee intends to meet virtually on October 26 and 27, 2021 to discuss management measures for 2022 as well as RQE funding recommendations. The meeting links, agenda, and meeting documents will be posted to the Committee’s electronic agenda.
Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.