Charter Harvest is – At Last – Within its Limit
November 07, 2011
In a letter to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, ADF&G reported a preliminary estimate for the 2011 charter catch in Southeast Alaska of 390,000 pounds or about half of the 790,000 pound allocation. The cumulative overage for the charter fleet in that area is 3.4 million pounds since 2004.
This year, the IPHC set a 37-inch maximum size rule for charter-caught halibut in Southeast Alaska, in a decisive move to control the chronic over harvest from that sector. Despite the fewer pounds, the number of fish caught in the charter sector in 2011 was 1% higher than the number caught in 2010, according to ADF&G’s preliminary estimates. Angler interest in the Southeast sportfish experience has remained steady despite the changes in management measures and the overall economy.
The biomass of halibut in the Southeast area has dropped in half over the past six years. To conserve stocks, the commercial catch limit has been reduced 76% and the commercial sector has never exceeded its allocation. Controlling charter harvest to levels commensurate with current abundance is critical to rebuilding the Southeast halibut resource.
The Alaska commercial fishery sector provides more jobs and generates more economic activity than the recreational sector. The total sport fish industry economic output in Alaska in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, was $1.6 billion. The comparable number for the commercial fishing sector was $5.8 billion. The tourism related jobs in Alaska from all tourist industries total 36,200. The comparable number for commercial fishing alone is 80,800. With respect to halibut specifically, under the most optimistic scenario, only $200 million of the total $1.6 billion of alleged sport fish economic output can be attributed to halibut in Areas 2C and 3A. For the commercial fishery, the comparable number for Areas 2C and 3A is $478 million.
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