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.

 

About John L. Beath

John Beath is a writer, photographer, videographer, blogger, tackle manufacturer & Captain at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Southeast Alaska. He is also owner of www.halibut.net and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @ www.youtube.com/jbeath
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