Legal Basis By U.S. Customs & Border Protection Regarding Requirement For Private Boaters/Anglers To “Report Arrival” Into U.S. After Boating/Fishing In Foreign Waters

Here’s the link with a case from 2005 about a charter operator who wanted to fish Canadian waters with his customers. This information was passed on to me by Bellingham Port Director with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Anthony Zumpano.

https://rulings.cbp. gov/detail.asp?ru=116568&ac=pr

Zumpano sent me the below paragraph today.

The final holding of the ruling states, “Pursuant to applicable laws and regulations vessels, such as the one under consideration, which travel to the waters of a foreign country, come to rest or engage in an activity in foreign waters, and return to the U.S. are required to obtain vessel clearance, report arrival, and make formal vessel entry”.  Private vessels would be exempt the requirement to obtain clearance and make formal vessel entry pursuant to 19 USC 1441, but even that exemption requires that pleasure vessels comply with the requirement to report arrival.

In short, sports anglers who leave U.S. waters MUST call U.S. Customs & Border Patrol and “Report Arrival” into U.S. waters. And to properly do that an I-68 or Nexus card is required for proper entry and reporting.

Fishing Canadian waters is really simple once you have the I-68 or Nexus. Upon entering Canadian waters make your call to Canadian authorities, get a clearance number and fish. Upon re-entering U.S. waters call U.S. authorities, get a clearance number and be done for the day.

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Reporting to U.S. Customs After Fishing Canadian Waters — You MUST HAVE a Nexus or I-68

Source: Reporting to U.S. Customs After Fishing Canadian Waters — You MUST HAVE a Nexus or I-68

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Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition, Puget Sound Anglers & Others Demand Fairness For Sports Halibut Anglers.

The following message concerning the sport halibut season in Washington waters was sent out this evening to the WDFW, IPHC, and PFMC and others so that the topic will be on the PFMC calendar for their June meeting in Spokane, Washington.  If you want to make comments on the proposals, the first deadline for the PFMC process is May 11 at 5:00 p.m.  Comments should be sent to:  pfmc.comments@noaa.gov

Comments received by the PFMC after May 11 but by May 31 at 5:00 p.m. will be included in the supplemental materials distributed to the Council.

You might also want to cc the following agencies:

Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife  Assistant Director (Fisheries)   Ron.Warren@dfw.wa.gov    WDFW Commission  commission@dfw.wa.gov

International Pacific Halibut Commission  regproposal@iphc.int

Pacific Fisheries Management Council – Halibut  Ms. Kelly Ames    kelly.ames@noaa.gov

I’m hopeful that we might see additional support from other states and British Columbia.

Thanks for your continuing support for a better halibut season.

Dave Croonquist/Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition

**********************************

Ms. Ames, Mr. Warren, and Ms. Goen et al,

Attached are two proposals being submitted on behalf of anglers, businesses, and local government agencies addressing concerns and ideas about the halibut fishery in Washington waters with potential implications for the entire area managed by the IPHC through the NPFMC, PFMC, and DFO-Canada.  The halibut sport fleet is a major contributor to the coastal economies from Alaska to Northern California and needs to have a new look at how it is managed.

One request is for returning the full share of halibut lbs that are taken off the recreational quota under the 2A Catch Share Plan to the Washington halibut sport fleet.  Since 2002, the “incidental catch” by the sablefish fleet with a couple of low TAC years has been coming off the WA sport fleet allocation – this year it was 70,000 lbs.  This is in-line with the proposal submitted by WDFW last fall addressing the return of the sport share to the sport fleet.

The second request is for the establishment of a season for halibut fishing with a daily bag limit of one fish, two fish in possession in the field and a six fish annual bag limit.  The steadily declining days available for halibut fishing in WA waters and to some extent OR and California has created a derby mentality that forces folks to fish on designated days with little regard for sea and weather conditions.  This puts property and lives of anglers and First Responders, including the USCG, at risk. The reduction in days is also having a severe economic impact on businesses around Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula.  Anglers spend millions of dollars every year that benefit many businesses and ancillary activities.  A different look at how the halibut sport fleet is managed would have positive effects for everyone.

Also attached are resolutions from the City of Port Angeles, Port of Port Angeles, Clallam County Commissioners, and the Port of Port Townsend in support of the concept.

We look forward to working with you to establish a better and safer halibut season structure for 2018 and beyond.

Thank you.

Dave Croonquist   on behalf of:  Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition, Puget Sound Anglers, Coastal Conservation Association, halibut anglers, and various businesses

Proposals Below

Ms. Kelly Ames

We would like to request that the 2A Catch Share Plan be amended at the June PFMC session on Pacific Halibut Management by removing the wording “…(except as provided in section (e)(3) of this plan)…” in section (f) SPORT FISHERIES (1) (i), (ii), (iii), and (iv).  This would provide the Washington sport fishing halibut fleet with its full share of halibut as found in section (b) ALLOCATIONS which gives 35.6% of the non-Indian TAC to the Washington sport fishery.   At the same time, (e) (3) of the 2A CSP should be removed or amended to permit some percentage of the commercial harvest TAC to be rolled over for “incidental catch” in the sablefish fishery north of Point Chehalis.

This request is in-line with supplemental WDFW report E.1.a submitted to the PFMC in November, 2016 concerning the incidental catch of halibut in the sablefish fishery N. of Point Chehalis:

“Therefore, as discussions on potential allocation changes move forward, WDFW would be interested in considering whether revisions to the sablefish incidental allocation were warranted.  Further, given that the sablefish incidental allocation came from the Washington sport allocation, WDFW would expect that any changes to the sablefish incidental allocation would shift back to the Washington recreational fishery.”

The return of the sablefish shares to the recreational fleet allocation as stated in (b) of the 2A CSP would add time on the water to our 2018 fishery and, if the TAC stays up, more fishing time in future years.  We understand that the TAC can fluctuate.  We can live with the lean times, but would enjoy the good times that a higher share will provide us and have a positive impact on communities businesses.

With the 2017 TAC for 2A at 1.33 million pounds, the non-Indian commercial share increased by 37,915 lbs over the 2016 allocation 265,402 lbs.  Using the 2A plan for the non-Indian commercial allocations, this would leave 20,314 lbs available for the “incidental catch” by the sablefish fleet while still allowing for increases for the primary halibut fishery and the incidental take during the salmon troll fishery.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dave Croonquist

Sequim, WA

Cc: City of Port Angeles, Port of Port Angeles, Port of Port Townsend, PSA, CCA, WDFW, IPHC

2017 2A Catch Share Plan:

http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Final_2017_PACIFIC_HALIBUT_CATCH_SHARING_PLAN_FOR_AREA_2A.pdf

A CHANGE IS NEEDED IN THE SPORT HALIBUT FISHERY MANAGEMENT PROTOCOLS

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) sets harvest poundage quotas for the halibut fishery conducted by tribal, non-tribal commercial, and sport fishers in the waters off the US and Canadian coasts.  These quotas are then applied through appropriate US and Canadian federal agencies to the states and British Columbia.  It is time to take a strong look at re-structuring the halibut fishery to reflect the importance of the recreational fishery to the coastal economies in the US and British Columbia.

Recreational halibut anglers, including non-residents, are a critical component in the coastal economies of the US and British Columbia.  They spend tens of millions of dollars that support many businesses from motels and gas stations to restaurants, grocery stores, bait dealers, and tackle shops.  The continuing decline in halibut fishing opportunities is causing severe economic impacts to coastal communities particularly in Catch Share Plan Area 2A (Washington, Oregon, N. California).  Assigned fishing dates have created a derby mentality that can and will force people to go fishing when they shouldn’t be on the water.  Lives and property have been lost and first responders, including the US Coast Guard, are put at risk when called out for search and rescue activities.   We think the sport fishery should be managed on the number of fish landed within a season structure that allows the sport angler to pick the days and weather conditions that allow for a safe fishery.   By limiting the number of fish that can be taken and possessed in the field and with an annual limit that would mirror the current Canadian and Oregon bag and possession limits, we feel that the IPHC, Federal, and state agencies can get a better handle on total harvest numbers rather than trying to estimate the pounds landed.

The Pacific Halibut Convention, between the United States and Canada was developed to administer the commercial fisheries for halibut between the two countries.  The relatively recent growth of the sport fishing interest in halibut necessitates a change in how the sport fleet harvest is administered and that separates the sport harvest from the commercial, Alaska subsistence, and tribal/First Nation fleets.  While we understand that the IPHC can’t set domestic rules for the US and Canadian fishers, we do feel that that the IPHC could address our concerns within the scope of the under Article III, Section 2 (a), (b), and (c):

  1. The Contracting Parties agree that for the purpose of developing the stocks of halibut of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea to levels which will permit the maximum sustained yield from that fishery and for maintaining the stocks at those levels, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, with the approval of the President of the United States of America and of the Governor General in Council of Canada, may, after investigation has indicated such action to be necessary, in respect of the nationals and inhabitants and fishing vessels and boats of the United States of America and of Canada, and in respect of halibut:

(a) divide the Convention waters into areas;

(b) establish one or more open or closed seasons, as to each area;

(c) limit the size of the fish and the quantity of the catch to be taken from each area within any season during which fishing is allowed;

By declaring the Pacific Coast of both countries as one sport fishing area, establish one season – February 1 to December 31, and an annual bag limit of six fish.  It is recommended that the daily limit be one fish per day and two fish in possession in the field (the fish would have to be taken to the permanent residence of the angler) before any additional fish, up to the six fish limit, could be taken.  The sport harvest would be measured by fish landed and not pounds landed.

The Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition and affiliated individuals and groups request that the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife present and support our proposal as outlined below to the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council for implementation in the 2018 sport halibut season for WA waters and possibly AK, BC, OR and CA waters.

  1. Fixed annual bag/possession limit of six fish per year per person.
  2. Field possession limit of one fish per day and two in possession in the field.
  3. Season – February 1 to December 31.

Dave Croonquist for the Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition, Port Angeles Salmon Club, Puget Sound Anglers, Coastal Conservation Association, City of Port Angeles, Port of Port Angeles, Clallam County Commissioners, Port of Port Townsend, halibut anglers, and coastal businesses with direct and indirect links to sport fishing opportunities.

 

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Reporting to U.S. Customs After Fishing Canadian Waters — You MUST HAVE a Nexus or I-68

Attention! You MUST have a Nexus or I-68 to fish Canadian waters regardless of what the Port Angeles office of U.S. Custom’s and Border Patrol says. They will soon be required to follow the law and be consistent with all of the other ports. Currently P.A. also controls Port Townsend, which will also be in line with other ports.

I just got off the phone with Officer Petkus, U.S. Custom’s & Border Patrol in Bellingham. Here’s what she had to say.

“We are the ones who are dealing with the small boating system. Don’t do anything with SVRS, it’s a managed out of Miami and does not work well here. Additionally, it requires boaters to file a “float plan,” you don’t want to do that because it slows the clearing process.

She says everyone MUST have either a Nexus card or I-68, in any combo. In other words, if one angler has a Nexus and two others have and I-68 you are good to go.

“Using a Nexus or I-68 goes quicker when clearing U.S. Customs,” explains Petkus.

When calling the 1-800 number to clear back into the United States, you must give them your Canadian clearance number as well as everyone’s Nexus or I-68 number. A clearance number will then be issued over the phone.

I also spoke with U.S. Custom’s and Border Patrol Port Director, Anthony Zumpano who said, “All of the ports need to be on the same page.”

Obviously they are not all on the same page, but will be soon.

In short, YOU MUST have an I-68 or Nexus to fish Canadian waters even if you don’t touch land or anchor. Period, end of story.

According to local Port Angeles U.S. Custom’s and Border Patrol station, boaters/anglers  do not have to call U.S. Custom’s to return home. This is not true. You still could face warnings, penalties or fines if you do not have the proper documents and do not call upon returning to U.S. waters.

Be safe and be legal.

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Washington’s 2017 Halibut Fishing Season

Halibut fishing to open May 4 under higher catch quotas

OLYMPIA – Anglers fishing for halibut will notice a change this year with consistent halibut seasons across all Puget Sound and ocean areas, except marine waters near the mouth the Columbia River.

The scheduled season dates are May 4, 6, 11, 21 and 25, and June 1 and 4, provided there is sufficient quota to accommodate all these fishing days. These dates apply to halibut fishing in Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4.

Halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 also gets under way May 4, but will be open four days per week (Thursday through Sunday) until the quota has been met.

State halibut seasons are established by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), using catch quotas adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for coastal fisheries from California to Alaska.

Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator, noted that this year’s quota for recreational halibut fisheries in Washington state is 243,667 pounds – an increase of about 23,652 pounds from 2016.

“We expect that the effort to align halibut season dates, together with a higher quota for the state’s recreational fisheries, will result in a longer season than what anglers have experienced in past years,” Reed said.

Halibut fishing has become an increasingly popular sport in Washington, making it difficult to predict how quickly anglers will reach the harvest limit for any given area, Reed said. The new season structure will help to ensure the state does not exceed federal quotas, with periodic catch assessments in each fishing area, she said.

Anglers should check the WDFW website for the latest information on openings before heading out, she said.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and two-fish possession limit in the field, and no minimum size restriction. Anglers must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card.

As in past years, Puget Sound marine areas 11, 12 and 13 will remain closed to halibut fishing.

In Marine areas 5 and 6, lingcod and Pacific cod can be retained in waters deeper than 120 feet on days when the recreational halibut fishery is open.

Additional changes in halibut-fishing rules that take effect for specific waters this year include:

  • Marine Area 1: Anglers will be allowed to keep a lingcod when halibut are on board during the all-depth fishery, but only when fishing north of the Washington-Oregon border during the month of May. The nearshore area in Marine Area 1 will open three days per week (Monday through Wednesday) beginning May 8 until the nearshore quota is taken. Bottomfish can be retained when halibut are onboard in the nearshore area. 
  • Marine Area 2 (Westport): Beginning the Saturday after the all-depth fishery closes, the nearshore fishery will open seven days per week until the quota is taken.
  • Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line: Bottomfish fishing will be restricted to the area shoreward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) beginning May 1 through Labor Day. Lingcod, sablefish, and Pacific cod can be retained seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) on days open to recreational halibut fishing.
Posted in Puget Sound Halibut Fishing, Uncategorized, Washington Halibut Fishing, Washington Halibut Regs | Leave a comment

Dave Croonquist Addresses Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meeting In Vancouver WA

Below is my summary report from my attendance at the PFMC meeting that started March 7 and ends March 13 in Vancouver, WA.  Also attached is a FAQ on the issue.

The primary reason for my attendance was to carry forward the resolutions and requests from the City of Port Angeles, the Port of Port Angeles and the Port of Port Townsend, and the Clallam County Commissioners requesting that the WDFW push forward our request through the PFMC and the IPHC to re-structure at least the WA sport halibut fishery to give us the opportunity to fish a season and not on days dictated by WDFW.  Our proposal might be expanded to include OR and N. California.  The economic hit the coastal communities are taking with the cuts in the season length are substantial.  From the anglers perspective, we need to get away from the derby mentality and fishing specified dates without regard to sea or weather conditions.  We don’t want to lose property or lives nor endanger USCG personnel or other agencies that would have to respond to emergency SAR calls.

Our proposed season/catch limit is as follows:

Fixed annual bag/possession limit of 6 fish per year per person

Field possession limit of 1 fish per day and 2 in possession

Season – Second Saturday in March to the third Saturday in October which will track PFMC ocean bottomfish fishery dates.   (Subject to change)

We all owe the City of Port Angeles, the Ports of Port Angeles and Port Townsend, the Clallam County Commissioners, the Peninsula Daily News, and the elected legislative officials from the 19th and 24th legislative districts (the Coastal Coalition) our thanks for helping push the issue forward with the WDFW.  We expect more coastal communities will line up in support of our proposal.

Dave Croonquist

PFMC REPORT

I attended the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver, WA March 8-10 to present our concerns and issues to people in attendance. I had the opportunity for extended conversations with International Pacific Halibut Commission and PFMC staff, some charter boat operators, and I made a brief comment in the Friday morning session of the Ground Fish Advisory Panel about the sablefish incidental take issue and other PFMC attendees.

I had the opportunity to make comments to the PFMC in the Section H 1 session of the meeting on Pacific Halibut following the IPHC meeting report to the PFMC.  The following is a synopsis of my comments.

2A RECREATIONAL HALIBUT FISHERY PROPOSAL

I am here on behalf of the approximately 15,000 members of the Puget Sound Anglers and Coastal Conservation Association, the Ports of Port Angeles and Port Townsed, the City of Port Angeles, and the Clallam County Commissioners, all of whom are concerned about the economic losses from steadily declining halibut fishing opportunities and the risk of the sport fleet property and lives when being forced to fish on specific days.  You have seen our letter to Ms. Kelly Ames, in your supplemental briefing book addressing our concerns about the diversion of halibut from the recreational share to the sablefish fleet.  We are asking that the proposal made by WDFW staff to the PFMC last June and again in November to re-examine the recreational share of Washington halibut be returned to the sport fleet.  

I have a brief statement for you concerning the sport halibut fishery:

The recreational anglers, including non-residents, are a critical component in the coastal economics of Washington, Oregon, and California.  They spend tens of millions of dollars that support many businesses from motels and gas stations to restaurants, grocery stores, bait dealers, and tackle shops.  The continuing decline in fishing opportunity, in this case halibut, is causing severe economic impacts to affected businesses.  It has also created a “derby” mentality that can and will force people to go out fishing when they shouldn’t be on the water thus putting property and lives at risk and creating risk for fellow anglers along with the US Coast Guard and other agencies that might called out for SAR activity.   As an aside, I would encourage your agencies or organizations to work through your congressional delegations to ask for full funding of the US Coast Guard budget.  We need them on the water.   We feel that it is time to take a strong look at re-structuring the halibut fishery to reflect the importance of the recreational fishery to the coastal economies in 2A.  We would like to make the following proposal for at least WA waters, but would think it might be applied to OR and CA waters, too.

Fixed annual bag/possession limit of 6 fish per year per person

Field possession limit of 1 fish per day and 2 in possession

Season – Second Saturday in March to the third Saturday in October which will track PFMC ocean bottomfish fishery dates.   (Subject to change)

The following letter (referenced above) was sent to Ms. Kelly Ames, NOAA halibut program with copies to Ms. Gretchen Hanshew, NOAA; Phil Anderson, Washington State PFMC representative; WDFW staff Ron Warren, Heather Reed, and Michele Culver, and IPHC staff Jamie Goen and Claude Dykstra on February 9.  It was included as item H.1.d in the supplemental Public Comment book for the PFMC.

Ms. Kelly Ames

We would like to request that the 2A Catch Share Plan for 2017 (link below) and future years be amended at the March 10 PFMC session on Pacific Halibut Management, agenda item H.2, by removing the wording “…(except as provided in section (e)(3) of this plan)…” in section (f) SPORT FISHERIES (1) (i), (ii), (iii), and (iv).  This would provide the Washington sport fishing halibut fleet with its full share of halibut as found in section (b) ALLOCATIONS which gives 35.6% of the non-Indian TAC to the Washington sport fishery.

The Washington sport fishery has been capped at 214,110 lbs. of halibut for a number of years.  As the Total Allowed Catch (TAC) goes up, the recreational fleet has been providing what would have been our share of harvest quota to the “incidental take” of halibut during the sablefish fishery.  Since 2003, we’ve given up an average of about 40,000 lbs per year to the sablefish fishery.  The quota we’ve been giving up over the years would help extend our seasons and provide much needed economic support to our coastal communities.  It would also provide for safer fisheries by allowing us on the water during better weather and sea conditions.

In 2015, we gave up 10,348 lbs, in 2016 it was 49,686 lbs, and for 2017 we’re being asked to give up 70,000 lbs which is the sablefish ceiling for “incidental take” before any overage rolls over to the recreational fishery.  Under the current 2A plan, the recreational fleet should get an additional 23,652 lbs for our 2017 catch share bringing our total to 237,762 lbs.  The return of the sablefish shares to the recreational fleet allocation as stated in (b) of the 2A CSP would provide us with an increase of 93,652 lbs which would bring our total to 307,762 lbs.  This would add time on the water to our 2017 fishery and, if the TAC stays up, more fishing time in future years.  We understand that the TAC can fluctuate.  We can live with the lean times, but would enjoy the good times that a higher share will provide us and have a positive impact on communities businesses.

With the 2017 TAC for 2A at 1.33 million pounds, the non-Indian commercial share is increasing 37,915 lbs over the 2016 allocation 265,402 lbs.  Using the 2A plan for the non-Indian commercial allocations, this would leave 20,314 lbs available for the “incidental take” by the sablefish fleet and allow for increases for the primary halibut fishery and the incidental take during the salmon troll fishery.

This request is in-line with supplemental WDFW report E.1.a submitted to the PFMC in November, 2016 concerning the incidental catch of halibut in the Sablefish fishery N. of Point Chehalis:

“Therefore, as discussions on potential allocation changes move forward, WDFW would be interested in considering whether revisions to the sablefish incidental allocation were warranted.  Further, given that the sablefish incidental allocation came from the Washington sport allocation, WDFW would expect that any changes to the sablefish incidental allocation would shift back to the Washington recreational fishery.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Dave Croonquist

Sequim, WA

Cc: City of Port Angeles, Port of Port Angeles, PSA, CCA, WDFW

2017 2A Catch Share Plan:

http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Final_2017_PACIFIC_HALIBUT_CATCH_SHARING_PLAN_FOR_AREA_2A.pdf

Late last year, it was thought that we might be able to get some or all the sablefish share that is taken from the recreational share re-allocated for 2017.  The PFMC process had already assigned the sablefish share and the vote at the PFMC meeting on March 10 was a formality.  There is concern within the sablefish fleet that they could lose the extra quota in future years and they won’t be able to supply halibut to folks who can’t go catch their own fish.  If the Total Allowed Catch (TAC) for the 2A Catch Share Plan remains above approximately 1.30 million pounds there are extra pounds, as mentioned in the letter to Ms. Ames, in the directed non-tribal quota that can allow for incidental take during the sablefish fishery.

Trying to get a better sport halibut season structure is going to be a challenge.  Hopefully, WDFW will be an advocate for us and maybe we can get support from the recreational folks and communities in Idaho, Oregon, and California who could also benefit from a different season structure.

There are many steps in the process.  The PFMC, under its federal mandate, manages the off-shore fisheries for N. California, Oregon, and Washington.  The states have to operate within the sideboards set by the PFMC.  The IPHC manages the Pacific Halibut fishery under the convention signed by the United States and Canada and their harvest guidelines are put in place by the PFMC for Area 2A and the NPFMC for Alaskan waters.  Looking ahead, it is my understanding that the next step in the process to try to get a recreational halibut season will be taken at the June PFMC meeting in Spokane, WA where the 2018 guidelines will be opened for discussion.  Subsequent meetings will be held in Boise, ID, in September and Costa Mesa, CA in November, 2017.  The 2018 meetings will be in Rohnert Park,
CA in March and Portland, OR in April.  The IPHC annual meeting will be held in January, 2018.  The 2018 IPHC annual meeting will be in Portland, OR January 22/26.

Copies of all the reports and public comments presented to the PFMC can be found in the link below.  Go to Section H for the halibut information.  If you’re interested in the salmon process through the PFMC, there were lots of on-going discussions.  You can see the links to the salmon information in Section E.

http://www.pcouncil.org/resources/archives/briefing-books/march-2017-briefing-book/#Mar2017

A copy of the resolutions passed by the Clallam County commissioners follows.  Similar wording was used by the Port of Port Townsend, Port of Port Angeles, and the City of Port Angeles.  Also attached is a copy of a letter that was sent to Senators Van De Wege and Takko and Representatives Chapman, Tharinger, Blake, and Walsh.

If you have any questions or would like to see more the correspondence that has gone back and forth over the past couple of years, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Respectfully submitted

Dave Croonquist

Fact Sheet Below

PUGET SOUND HALIBUT INFORMATION

Declining days on the water in Puget Sound halibut area – 70 days in 2006, 64 days in 2008, 30 days in 2010, 15 days in 2012, 12 days in 2014, 11 days in 2015, 8 days in 2016, and 3 days for 2017.

Economic impacts on local communities and businesses

Over-crowding at the available launch sites

Days to fish are fixed with no considerations for weather events

Loss of life and property due to having to fish on established days

WDFW has estimated numbers of halibut anglers, but no solid numbers how many really fish for halibut

2009-2014 average of 8000+ in Puget Sound and 11,691 all areas

Halibut catch record cards have averaged about 300,000 per year

Catch rate (fish/day) increasing as days on the water are cut

Year        Days        Fish (est. harvest)    Catch/Day

2016        8        5337            667

2015        11        5291            481

2014        12        6241            416

2010        30        3556            118

2008        64        3909            61

2A Catch Share Plan gives 35.6% of the non-tribal recreational share to WA for a total of 224,110 lb

2A CSP takes 10,000 lbs. off the rec share for incidental take by sablefish fleet leaving the rec fleet with 214,110 lbs. and sets aside up to an additional 60,000 lbs. (70,000 lbs. total) before the WA rec fleet will see any increase in harvest shares

In 2016, we lost 49,686 lbs. to the sablefish fleet (total for all WA waters that would have been divided up between the 4 halibut management zones) had we received our full share.  OR and CA saw an increase in their rec fleet share.

With the TAC going to 1.33 million lbs In 2017, we’ll lose 70,000 lbs to the sablefish fleet but will pick up the 23,552 lbs above the sablefish share giving us 237,662 lbs.  If we had our share of the sablefish quota back, we’d have 307,762 lbs.

Ocean recreational fishing days on the water is also severely restricted.  They are averaging 3 – 4 days of fishing.  Their data is not included in this summary

2A RECREATIONAL HALIBUT FISHERY PROPOSAL

The recreational anglers, including non-residents, are a critical component in the coastal economics of Washington, Oregon, and California.  They spend tens of millions of dollars that support many businesses from motels and gas stations to restaurants, grocery stores, bait dealers, and tackle shops.  The continuing decline in fishing opportunity, in this case halibut, is causing severe economic impacts to affected businesses.  It has also created a “derby” mentality that can and will force people to go out fishing when they shouldn’t be on the water thus putting property and lives at risk and creating risk for fellow anglers along with the US Coast Guard and other agencies that might called out for SAR activity.   It is time to take a strong look at re-structuring the halibut fishery to reflect the importance of the recreational fishery to the coastal economies in 2A.  We would like to make the following proposal for at least WA waters, but would think it might be applied to OR and CA waters, too.

Fixed annual bag/possession limit of 6 fish per year per person

Field possession limit of 1 fish per day and 2 in possession

Season – Second Saturday in March to the third Saturday in October which will track PFMC ocean bottomfish fishery dates.   (Subject to change)

Posted in Washington Halibut Fishing | Leave a comment

WDFW Will Ask NMFS For 7 Day Washington Halibut Season

Washington Halibut Fishing Season

Breaking News — Washington halibut season will likely be reset to 7 days, if quota is not caught. Read blog and letter below.

Here’s a letter from District 24 Washington State Senator, Kevin Van De Wege, and District 24 Representatives, Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman regarding a longer Washington State halibut season for 2017. Their signed letter is located below my comments. This looks very promising, let’s keep our fingers and fishing rods crossed! However, WDFW can ask the feds for a longer halibut season, but how can they justify it? Since their largely “crystal ball” and “far-fetched, made up numbers math” recently only justified a four day season, how then can they convince the feds to give us an eight day season?

Will they cut our season short this year, as they will have time between open dates to close our season if we exceed our quota, as they calculate or “miscalculate” halibut catch rates. Or will they give us seven days this year and no days next year? They could do just that, if their, in my opinion, false catch rates exceed the sport quota. Forgive me, but I don’t trust WDFW and I remain extremely skeptical.

Washington State Senator Kevin Van De Wege & State Reps, Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman’s letter below.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Two years ago, our regional halibut fishing season was reduced to just three days, with brutal consequences. (Note: this is incorrect data. This season, 2017 WDFW reduced our season to three days.) The competition to harvest halibut in such a short window pushed businesses and employees to their limits and raised serious safety concerns. It was the kind of “accident waiting to happen” that we can’t afford to repeat, and we know folks out there remain wary.

In that light, we’d like to share what we know from a meeting Thursday with legislative staff and staff from the state Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. Though our halibut fishing season is determined by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and implemented by the National Marine Fisheries, our state officials have significant input and have requested a seven-day season for this year.

Fish & Wildlife staff say approval of their request is likely and that the final determination will be announced later this month. So we think prospects for this season look good. If the commission approves Fish & Wildlife’s request, this year’s halibut fishing season will take place on May 4, 6, 11, 21 and 25 and on June 1 and 4. In addition, if the halibut quota has not been exhausted on those dates, the season could be extended; if so, the additional dates would be posted on the Fish & Wildlife website at dfw.wa.gov.

If you would like to voice your priorities for future halibut seasons, including even specific dates you believe might be best, Fish & Wildlife holds a public comment period every November. To receive notification of when that comment period will take place, you can sign up for Fish & Wildlife’s email list server by emailing a request to Michele Culver at michele.culver@dfw.wa.gov.

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