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USA Anglers Fear Bag Limits

Jan 21,2007 SACN


The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is issuing a call to action from saltwater fishermen throughout the country in an effort to make their collective voice heard by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC); an organization forged under a U.S./Canadian treaty to manage the halibut biomass in Pacific waters.

Next week, the IPHC is scheduled to hold closed meetings for discussions on the recreational harvesting of halibut off the coast of Alaska.

Currently, Alaska's commercial fleets take over 90% of the halibut resource and kill over 12 million pounds, annually, just in wasted bycatch.

This, alone, is close to double the amount that sport anglers catch.

However, the commercially dominated IPHC is proposing to cut the charter fleet bag limit to one fish per person, crippling Alaska's charter and tourism industry.

Report h e r e

Communication recieved from the RFA by SACN:

HALIBUT ACTION ALERT

Your action is needed now. The fate of sport fishing for halibut in Alaska will be decided in Canada, not the U.S.A., behind closed doors by the commercial fishing industry during the week of January 15, 2007.

Currently, Alaska's commercial fleets harvest over 90% of the US halibut quota and kill over 12 million pounds in bycatch alone.  This waste associated with commercial bycatch is close to double the amount that sport anglers catch.  Despite this unbalanced allocation, commercial halibut longliners are strongly pushing to cut recreational bag limits in half just so they can have more fish to sell.  The methods used to pursue these proposed cuts are extremely troublesome.

Halibut are managed under an international treaty between the U.S.A. and Canada by an organization called the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The IPHC's main job is to continually monitor the health of the halibut biomass and then determine how many pounds of halibut can be harvested in a given year. That harvest amount gets divided between the U.S., and Canada. Under usual circumstances, the allowable catch for halibut is then managed federally by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC), under the control of the National Marine Fisheries Service. NPFMC as well as the other seven federal management councils in the U.S. was established by the Magnuson-Stevens Act which mandates proper guidelines and insures public involvement in the process.

This normal process is being subverted in a foreign country by the IPHC which is completely controlled by commercial fishing interests. Ironically, the Magnuson-Stevens Act which bears the name of Alaska's prominent senator, Senator Ted Stevens, is being subverted by commercial interests from the Senator's own state, and their actions will adversely effect Alaskan residents and visitors alike.

We cannot allow this to happen. The Magnuson-Stevens Act was recently reauthorized by our Congress in 2006 and dictates a transparent process with public input.  It is necessary that you call, fax, or email Dr. William Hogarth, Assistant Administrator NOAA Fisheries, Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, and your local Senator immediately.  Let them know that fishermen will not stand for this action and that the management of the halibut charter fishery must remain with the NPFMC and the US.  Please call, write and fax your concerns today.

Dr. William T. Hogarth                                     Senator Ted Stevens

National Marine Fisheries Service                       United States Senate from Alaska

301 301-2239 phone                                       202 224-3004 phone

301 713-1940 fax                                           202 224-3004 fax 

bill.hogarth@noaa.gov                                     

Use the following URL to find your Senator:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm



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