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May 01, 2009

NOAA opens comments on proposal limiting AK charter halibut boats

Comments must be received by June 5, 2009.
By Noaa

NOAA Fisheries has opened comment on a proposed program designed to limit the number of charter boats in the guided sport halibut fishery in Southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska.

"The guided sport charter halibut sector has been growing steadily in recent years," said Acting Regional Administrator Doug Mecum. "The proposed limited access program is intended to stabilize the guided charter sector while maintaining access to the halibut charter fishery for small rural coastal communities."

Under the proposed program,

    * permits would be issued to qualifying individuals or businesses that documented fishing trips during a qualifying year (2004 or 2005) and a recent participation year (probably 2007 or 2008) in their logbooks;
    * halibut guide business operators would be required to hold a permit for each boat they use to provide their charter clients with halibut fishing trips;
    * charter halibut permit holders would be subject to limits on the number of permits they could hold and on the number of charter boat anglers who could catch and retain halibut on their charter boats;
    * newcomers could enter the charter halibut fishery only if they were able to purchase an existing permit;
    * permits could be issued to community quota groups representing specific rural communities;
    * permits would be endorsed for fishing only in a specific International Pacific Halibut Commission management area;
    * permits would be endorsed for the maximum number of clients on the boat

Unguided or independent sport fishermen and subsistence fishermen would not be included under the proposed charter halibut limited access program.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to develop the proposed limited access program for the sport charter halibut fishery in March, 2007.

The proposed program would apply only in International Pacific Halibut Commission regulatory areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska).

Comments must be received by June 5, 2009.

Comment may be sent to:
Sue Salveson, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments identified by 0648-AW92 by any one of the following methods:

    * Electronic submissions: Submit all electronic public comments, identified by 0648-AW92 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at http://www.regulations.gov
    * Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668
    * Fax: 907-586-7557
    * Hand delivery: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK

All comments received are part of the public record and will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (such as name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

The proposed new management system is described in detail in the proposed rule at /files/pdf/201105/74fr18178.pdf