Alaska Charter Association

To Protect the Rights and Conserve the Resources of Alaska's Sport Fishery
Alaska Charter News June 2017
Chris Oliver Appointed NOAA Assistant Administrator

For the first time in nearly a decade, the NOAA Fisheries division will be lead by an experienced fishery manager. 

"I understand how important stakeholder involvement, transparency, and best available science are to making the right policy decisions and I plan to ensure those tenets of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are applied across the board while I am leading the agency," he said in a statement issued by NOAA. "I intend to rely heavily upon the regional expertise of the eight fishery management Councils and the associated NOAA Fisheries Regions and Science Centers, and to ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively tackle region-specific issues."

The Alaska Charter Association has worked with Chris Oliver for almost two decades at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and look forward to working with him now in his new, important position. There were many excellent names being floated around for the top fisheries post in the federal government, but for the Alaska charter industry, this is good news. Our association supported Chris' nomination in a letter to the new administration, and we're glad we won't have to educate a new Assistant Administrator about Alaska issues - we can hit the ground running.

Meet the Board of Directors for the Alaska Charter Association

The Alaska Charter Association benefits from a solid board of directors, who over the years have volunteered countless hours to ensure the future of our fisheries and the health of the charter industry.  

Representing ports across Alaska and a wide array of business models - including six-pack charters to full-service lodges -  each our volunteers bring a unique perspective to the board of directors. We introduce you to the current board in recognition of their service because you may want to thank them for their work by becoming a member of the Alaska Charter Association yourself. 

A lot of us gripe about the rules and regulations but we know the only way to improve things is to get involved. Not everyone can commit the time necessary to attend the regulatory meetings, but everyone can tip the scales and improve our odds by supporting the people who do act on our behalf and step into the regulatory Coliseum

J oining the Alaska Charter Association is the first step because if you read this far you have an interest in the outcome, just like the owners of hundreds of Alaskan charter vessels and thousands of recreational anglers who support them. Click here to find out why the Board of Directors volunteer to make things better and after that you click here to find out how you can help

North Council Sets Allocation Policy

The North Pacific Management Council conducted an Allocation Policy Discussion that followed a new national policy for slicing the pie in our fisheries. 

NMFS agreed with recreational fishermen at a national sportfishing policy summit that many allocations have been unchanged since the 1970s, and they may no longer fill the national standards laid out in the Magnuson Stevens Act. NOAA developed a new policy on how Regional Fishery Management Councils will review allocations in the future on a regular timeline.

NMFS recommended that Alaska's Halibut Catch Sharing Plan undergo an allocation review. This relatively recent allocation plan splits commercial longline quotas with the guided anglers who access the fishery through the recreational charter fishing industry.

The North Council has three years to complete a policy for what elements would trigger a review of allocations in specific fisheries. The purpose of these mandated reviews is to ensure that allocations meet the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, with the goal of Optimal Yield for the highest benefit to the Nation.

Council members, including Seward charter captain Andy Mezirow, expressed concern about the timing of allocation reviews if they all come up at the same time. 

In its decision at their June meeting in Juneau, Council identified a policy for an allocation review within a maximum 10-year time frame, following the staff recommendation. All LAPPS are subject to review. Halibut Catch Sharing Plan, GOA and BSAI Cod fisheries are also subject to this process. Public Interest will trigger other reviews as a secondary avenue to allocation review.

While setting a minimum time frame of a decade between allocation reviews offers guided recreational fisherman and charter operators no silver bullet for a long-contested re-allocation of Pacific Halibut, at least there is some movement to review them, and there is a secondary avenue for adjustments through the public process within a shorter time frame. When we pursue the Recreational Quota Entity for relief through compensated reallocation, and if we hit a logjam of opposition to that process we will have a strong argument to re-open those original allocations which we feel were set far too low for our sector, leading to all the restrictions we have been dealing with ever since. 

Outlook on Possible Regulation Changes at the North Council

Looking out on the horizon we can anticipate a number of possible changes coming up for discussion at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in the coming months. Their next meeting is in Anchorage from Oct.2 through Oct. 10, and at that meeting there will be an initial review of a proposal for an annual review of Charter  Halibut  Permit Registration. Currently there is no process to find out whether non-transferable permits are still operating within the law, creating a potential for a big upswing in halibut landings in the guided sector, if people are using permits that aren't valid. If you own (or leased) a non-transferable CHP then you need to pay attention to this. Another initial review will start at the October meeting to address the mixing of guided and unguided halibut landings on charter vessels. This is a tricky subject that will affect floating lodges, operators that rent boats and then transport the fish on a charter vessel, so keep an eye on this one, too. In December the Council will meet in Anchorage again for the annual setting of potential 2018 charter fishing regulations after the initial numbers are produced from 2017 logbook data.  Check out the Three-Meeting Outlook for the North Council.
Confirm your membership
  • Because you find most of your time is being spent in damage control brought on by regulations that continue to decrease fishing opportunity for your clients.
  • Because you have no time to attend important meetings that may further impact your future. 
  • You should join the Alaska Charter Association.
If your dreams include flying scales and full fish totes, you 
need the Alaska Charter Association to inform, educate, and fight for you  
at these important fisheries meetings. 

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