Comment Period Extended for Halibut Catch Sharing Plan

fisheries officials have extended the public comment period for the proposed
halibut catch sharing plan by 14 days, after receiving a number of requests for
additional time for public input.

Fisheries said today that with the 14-day extension, comments are now due Aug.
26. The proposed rule to implement a halibut catch sharing plan for guided
sport and commercial fisheries in Alaska published in the Federal Register on June
28 otherwise would have closed on Aug. 12.

Most requests
submitted to NOAA sought a comment period extension of 45 days, noting that the
comment period falls at the height of fishing season in Alaska, and fishermen
who might want to comment are out on the water and may be unable to submit
comments by the deadline.

This allows
for a comment period of two months. An extension longer than this would jeopardize
implementation of the catch sharing plan for the 2014 fishing season should
NOAA proceed with a final rule after considering public comment.

Jim Balsiger,
the Alaska regional administrator for NOAA, said the agency is strongly
encouraging people to take the time to sit down and read the actual text of the
plan so they have the facts before commenting. 
Thousands of comments anticipated on the proposed rule must be analyzed
and responded to if a final rule is to be published in late 2013 to allow for
implementation for the 2014 charter halibut fishery.

The North
Pacific Fishery management Council recommended the catch sharing plan to
establish a clear allocation between the commercial and charter sectors in
southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska, to provide stability for
affected halibut fishery participants and to provide halibut fishery managers
with greater precision in setting halibut catch limits and management measures
that are responsive to annual changes in halibut exploitable biomass and
fishing effort.

comments to Glenn Merrill, assistant regional administrator, Sustainable Fisheries
Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, and identified by FDMS
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2011-0180. Comments may be submitted by any of the
following methods:

submission: via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at

Mail to P.O.
Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668


The proposed
plan is online at