AK House Maj. Caucus Press Release: Proposed Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Hits Snags
Issues Highlighted After Public Comment Period Warrant More Study, Says NOAA in Letter to North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Thursday, September 29, 2011, Fairbanks, Alaska – Alaska House Special Committee on Fisheries Chair Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, and Vice-Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, released the following statements today after receiving an announcement from NOAA Fisheries regarding the disputed proposed Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) for Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.
“It is clear to me that Alaskans are worried about federal overreach when it comes to our resources. Through this process we have made those concerns known, and raised several technical, but equally important, issues over this controversial plan. My greatest concern is that the proposal, in its present form, will cause significant social and economic harm to the charter fishing sector and small towns and villages in Alaska that have a large stake in the industry. We’re not just talking captains and guides; we’re talking about mechanics and boatwrights and fuel companies and processors and hoteliers and on and on.”
“I am extremely pleased with NOAA’s decision. The plan as proposed was not supported by any economic analysis whatsoever. That’s unacceptable. The plan could have had a disastrous economic impact on Alaska. The ripple effect would have impacted not just the charter halibut businesses here in Southcentral, but tourism spending statewide – and thus all of the Alaskan businesses, jobs and coastal communities that depend on it.”
NOAA Fisheries held a public comment process in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska on the proposed halibut CSP which would limit the number of halibut a sport fisher on a charter could keep from two fish to one, with a size restriction of 37 inches. The House Special Committee on Fisheries supplemented the process by holding a public hearing where industry groups, state agencies and federal representatives testified about the potential impacts of the plan as well. The thousands of public comments brought to light a number of issues including management, technical and economic impacts to our state. In a statement from NOAA they mention that additional input is required and will be sending the plan back to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for review.