Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Has Unanimous Support From Federal Council

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is unanimous in its continued support of a halibut catch sharing plan to resolve long standing allocation and management issues between the commercial and charter halibut sectors. The council also recognized during its December meeting in Anchorage that there are deficiencies in the current analysis that it needs to address before implementation can take place.

During the December meeting the council provided clarifications to six main issues raised in public comment to the proposed rule. The council asked for additional analysis and revisions to the halibut catch sharing plan that more specifically address public comments outlined in the National Marine Fishery Service report on the catch-sharing plan.

The council intends to review the supplemental analysis during its April meeting, to determine what, if any, additional changes are needed in order for the catch sharing plan to meet council objectives. The council also has asked NMFS for a report by the April meeting as to whether the additions and revisions to the catch sharing plan will require a new proposed rule, so that the council can establish a timeline for implementing the catch sharing plan.

The council also asked staff for a discussion paper analyzing several items for potential use in future halibut management, including the use of Alaska Department of Fish and Game log books for official harvest reporting, and the use of a common pool purchase of quota shares by the charter sector.