By Ryan McRobert
February 03, 2011
Charter Halibut Permits... Not just for charter operators. No matter who you side with, charter or commercial, or you simply like to get out and fish with friends, the new laws will affect you. As of Feb. 1, 2011 charter operators must have onboard a CHP (charter halibut permit) now required by NOAA. With much controversy about the permits being forced on the fleet, few saw what the wording would lead to.
From the FAQ section of the NOAA website:
7. I am a licensed guide; do I need a CHP onboard to take friends, family, or neighbors fishing even if they are not paying me?
Yes. As a licensed guide you would need a CHP if you are onboard the vessel with anglers onboard catching and retaining halibut. In this program, all anglers that use the services of a charter vessel guide, whether they are paying or non-paying, are considered charter vessel anglers. Each angler does not have to individually compensate the person providing sport fishing assistance for this definition to be applicable. Compensation is also not strictly limited to a monetary exchange and can include a trade of goods or services in exchange for taking someone fishing. In addition, any person receiving compensation (whether or not they hold an annual sport guide license issued by ADF&G), would be considered a charter vessel guide and need a CHP for assisting a person who is catching and retaining halibut in Area 2C or 3A. In this case, the person sport fishing would be considered a charter vessel angler, and the trip would be considered a charter vessel fishing trip. (See Glossary for definitions)
The only exception is for holders of Subsistence Halibut Regulation Certificates (SHARC). The owner of a vessel that is registered with the State of Alaska as a charter vessel may use that vessel to harvest subsistence halibut provided the owner has a valid SHARC. Only the vessel owner and members of the vessel owner’s immediate family may be onboard the vessel while subsistence halibut fishing. Only the vessel owner and members of the vessel owner’s immediate family who hold a valid SHARC may fish for subsistence halibut from the charter vessel. (50 CFR 300.66(i))
Not only is a guide always considered a guide, if you share the costs of a fishing trip with someone who is not a licensed guide, you are considered to be on a guided trip. This presents many problems. First, the expense held over one person for a fishing trip. If you fall under this rule fishing with friends, neighbors, or family, and split the cost of a trip, 1) you could be held responsible for guiding without a license, 2) over-limits of a federal fish, 3) failure to complete a saltwater logbook entry, 4) retaining halibut on a charter trip without a CHP. It could go even further with safety equipment violations, lack of appropriate insurance, etc. All just to go fishing with family or friends.
In the wording of the new rules, a licensed guide is always a guide, and a licensed charter vessel is always a charter vessel. No matter what boat the guide is on, he/she is a charter operator, and that vessel must have a CHP, and logbook on board. Even if the boat is not a charter vessel. On the charter vessel, even with no paying clients, any trip is considered a charter trip and all passengers are considered charter anglers. This means that a charter logbook trip sheet must be filled out, and a CHP must be on board to retain halibut.
Another problem for residents and "unguided anglers" is that falling into any of these situations makes them "charter anglers" and they must abide by the rules and limits set for charter anglers.
In 2C (southeast) that drops the daily bag limit from 2 fish any size to 1 fish and pending approval, that 1 fish may be no greater than 37". The new wording will have many law-abiding citizens feeling like they are walking on eggshells just to enjoy the sport of halibut fishing.
Capt. Ryan McRobert
Received February 03, 2011 - Published February 03, 2011
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