Alaska Charter Files Lawsuit Against the One Fish Bag Limit

 Charter fleet has filed suit against Sec of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez on the one halibut daily bag limit for charter clients that went into effect on June 1st. this lawsuit was filed on June 2nd and a hearing in front of a judge for a temporary restraining order and injunction against the one fish bag limit is scheduled for Wednesday June 3rd at 10:00 am in DC.   The information that we have is that they have filed based on the Halibut Act “fair and equitable” allocation clause and 4 violations of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).  We’ll keep you posted.

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High Fuel Costs Hurt East Coast Charter Businesses

Some East Coast charter captains see 30% drop in business due to high fuel costs
Reprinted with permission from 

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star] Norfolk, VA – June 2, 2008 By Connie Sage

In the first two months of this year, the number of for-hire trips by North Carolina’s 700 charter, guide and head boats dropped 30 percent, from 4,300 trips to 3,000, compared with last year, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

The six sun burned men stood together on the pier at Hatteras Harbor Marina and smiled as charter boat captain Rom Whitaker snapped their photo.

After hooking a 350-pound marlin off Whitaker’s 53-foot sport- fishing boat, the Release, it didn’t matter to them that they had to pay more to fish.

‘There’s no consideration of gas when you’re having fun,’ said Steve Ward of Northern Virginia.

Not every angler feels the same way.

In the first two months of the year, the number of for-hire trips by North Carolina’s 700 charter, guide and head boats dropped 30 percent, from 4,300 trips to 3,000, compared with last year, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

‘It was a one-two punch,’ said Doug Munford, a state biologist who coordinates data collection in Washington, N.C.

Stripers and bluefin tuna were not as plentiful earlier this year, he said, ‘and we’re probably not yet witnessing the impact of gasoline prices.’ Those numbers won’t be available until mid- summer.

Charter boat captains already know how bad it is.

‘Increased fuel costs are killing us,’ said Steve Richardson, captain of both the Back Lash and the Canyon Express. Business is off by at least 35 percent, he said.

Prices for fuel last week ranged from $4.49 to $4.60 a gallon for diesel. That’s 35 percent higher than in April and nearly double the price from a year ago.

It can cost as much as $2,000 a day or more just for fuel, depending on the size and speed of a charter boat and the time it takes to reach prime Outer Banks or Virginia Beach fishing areas.

Even though only a portion of the $200 to $400 in additional fuel costs per trip is being passed along to charter boat customers, fewer anglers are signing on, and boat owners are suffering.

‘Nobody’s calling,’ Richardson said. ‘No one wants to spend the money.’

This time last year, his charter prices out of Virginia Beach were $1,450 a day, compared with $1,900 this year; out of Hatteras, it was $1,100 , compared with $1,700 now.

Whitaker charged $1,250 to charter the Release last year, compared with $1,400 this season ‘all because of fuel.’

‘We’re working just as hard or harder but making less money and barely covering the cost,’ he said.

Mike Romeo, who owns the Gannet , a 46-foot custom Carolina sport- fishing boat in Hatteras, said his business is off by 50 percent – ‘the wors t we’ve ever seen it.’

Fuel prices historically creep up, Romeo pointed out, ‘but doggone, all of a sudden it was ‘bam!’ At this point, we’re just hanging on.’

His charter rates have climbed from $1,300 to $1,650 in a year. If rates continue to increase, charter boats could price themselves out of the business, he said.

‘On the other hand, we can’t go for free,’ he said. ‘Everybody’s in the same boat.’

Those customers willing to pay more aren’t complaining, said Aaron Midgett, assistant manager of Teach’s Lair Marina in Hatteras. ‘They understand for the most part,’ he said.

‘The person who can pay $1,700, $1,800 or $1,900 for an offshore trip – it doesn’t affect them,’ said John Crowling, general manager of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee Inlet. Also, they’re usually splitting the cost with five other anglers.

Ben and Ivy Carey of Virginia Beach come to Hatteras a couple of times a year to charter a boat with friends. Last week they hooked two blue marlins, each weighing about 400 pounds, off Whitaker’s boat.

‘The cost of fuel is an annoyance but not altering our lifestyle significantly,’ said Carey, a physician. ‘We’re fortunate we can afford it.’

So can Dan Grose of Frederick, Md., who for the third year was fishing on Mike Warren’s 48-foot Hatteras Blue out of Hatteras Harbor.

Warren’s price didn’t increase that much, said Grose, an archaeologist. ‘Quite frankly, I can afford it. I’m coming back in September.’

Upper-income anglers are able to foot higher bills, but not the blue-collar guy, said Whitaker. ‘They don’t have to go fishing,’ he said. ‘They have to eat and get to work, not fish.’

After running charters for 33 years, Sam Parker is trying to sell his 40-foot Carolina boat, the Scorpio, that he keeps at Wachapreague Seaside Marina on the Eastern Shore.

Because of gas prices, Wachapreague is like a ghost town, he said.

The nail in the coffin was a tightened Virginia regulation limiting flounder to at least 19 inches this year.

Dave Wentling, captain of the Instigator, a 57-foot Carolina based in Hatteras and Ocean City, Md., said he doesn’t know how much more people will pay to go out on charter boats.

‘At some point they’ll say, ‘Let’s buy a bucket of crabs, stay home and drink beer.’ ‘

John Sackton, Editor And Publisher News 1-781-861-1441
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Copyright 2008 and/or its licensors. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of Associated Press material is licensed.
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Charter Restrictions Implemented for One Fish Bag Limit

Contact:          Sheela McLean                                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                                                                                        907-586-7032                                      May 22, 2008
NOAA Reduces Halibut Catch for Southeast Alaska Charter Anglers to Protect Stock
NOAA’s Fisheries Service issued a new rule today that states starting June 1, charter vessel anglers in southeast Alaska will be allowed to keep one instead of two halibut per day. 
In addition, the number of lines used to fish for halibut must not exceed the number of anglers onboard the charter vessel, to a maximum of six lines. Also, guides and crew are not allowed to catch and retain halibut while clients are onboard.
“These new regulations are needed because charter fishing has grown in southeast Alaska while the abundance of halibut has decreased,” said Doug Mecum, NOAA’s Fisheries Service Alaska region acting administrator. 
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA’s Fisheries Service approved the new regulations to reduce the harvest of halibut to the new target level of 931,000 pounds in 2008 in the waters of southeast Alaska, which is International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 2C. The new regulations will remain in effect until further notice.
While the target harvest for southeast Alaska in 2007 was 1.4 million pounds, the actual amount of halibut harvested by charter anglers was estimated at more than 1.7 million pounds.
Sport anglers who are not aboard guided charter vessels may continue to keep two halibut of any size daily. Guided charter vessel anglers outside of Southeast Alaska may also continue to keep two halibut of any size per day.
A regulation implemented earlier this year to assist enforcement officers to count the number of fish each angler possesses, says anglers can cut their halibut on board into not more than two ventral and two dorsal pieces and two cheeks, all with the skin on.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service received many comments on the proposed regulations for the charter vessel fishery. A summary of those comments and the agency’s responses will be published with the final regulations, which will be at
NOAA’s Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S.  Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
On the Web:
NOAA’s Fisheries in Alaska: and

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Pacific Salmon Treaty Agreement Reached

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 22, 2008                                                                           08-11
Contact:  David Bedford, Deputy Commissioner 907-465-4100
Pacific Salmon Treaty Negotiators Reach Agreement
(Juneau) – The Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) today announced an agreement on a ten-year extension of fishery arrangements under the Pacific Salmon Treaty.  The agreement addresses a number of salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska, including those near the British Columbia/Alaska border and on several rivers that cross between the two countries.    
            The Pacific Salmon Treaty, first signed in 1985, is a bilateral agreement under which the U.S. and Canada co-operate on management, research and enhancement of Pacific salmon that swim through the waters of both countries.  Under the treaty, fishery arrangements put in place in 1999 expire at the end of December, 2008. 
            “Ten years ago, the commission had a much more difficult time reaching agreement, and the final negotiations had to be conducted at a government-to-government level,” David Bedford, Alaska’s representative on the PSC, said.  “This time, the Commissioners, along with stakeholders and fisheries management staff up and down the coast, worked hard to conclude an agreement within the Commission process, and this ensured participation by the state and the affected people, organizations and communities.”    
“Throughout nearly two years of negotiations, the State of Alaska worked in close coordination with fishery representatives,” he continued.  “While we had to make some sacrifices to reach this agreement, we were convinced that this is a responsible agreement that provides stability for our fisheries and helps ensure the long-term health and sustainability of shared salmon resources.”
For Chinook salmon, the most complex of the species covered under the treaty due to the geographic scope of their migration, the revised agreement:
·        maintains the fundamentals of the abundance–based management system established in 1999, which mandates that harvests vary up and down with productivity of the stocks, and has provided substantial benefits to Alaska fisheries. 
·        recognizes that Chinook stocks in the area covered by the treaty vary in status with many being healthy and abundant while others are considered to be stocks of concern.
·        recognizes the depressed status of a number of stocks originating in southern B.C. and the U.S. Pacific Northwest (some of which are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act), and reduces the allowable Chinook catch levels for fisheries in in fisheries off the west coast of Vancouver Island in B.C. by 30%, and in Southeast Alaska by 15%.
·        requires the Commission to review the need for the continuation of these levels of reduction in 2014.
·        contains provisions to fund and conduct important programs to obtain additional information critical to conservation and fisheries management which will be of value in the 2014 review.  The funding includes $10 million over 5 years to better account for salmon escapement and $15 million for improvements in fishery monitoring.
“The catch reduction is a tough position for us to accept,” said Bedford, “but those of us who have been working hard on these talks, including representatives of southeast Alaskan fishing interests, recognized that there are expressed conservation concerns for a number of stocks and that reaching an agreement that mandates additional monitoring and analysis of these stocks should help answer questions about their status and significantly contribute to the review of the reduction that will take place in 2014.”
For other Alaskan fisheries covered by the Treaty, the agreement revises fishery provisions for terminal area and in-river sockeye, coho, and Chinook fisheries on the Stikine, Taku, and Alsek rivers.  The agreement builds upon the current abundance-based management system for conservation and harvest sharing, provides for additional harvest opportunities for sockeye through responsible stock enhancement on the Taku and Stikine rivers, and addresses possible future opportunities for fisheries on the Alsek River after coordinated stock assessment work.
For relevant fisheries in the boundary area between northern British Columbia and southern Southeast Alaska, negotiators recognized that the fishery arrangements established in 1999 are working well, and the new agreement extends those terms for another ten years.  Key provisions in this area relate to the catch ceilings established for some B.C.-bound sockeye stocks harvested in the commercial seine fishery near Noyes Island and the commercial gillnet fishery at Tree Point.
The Pacific Salmon Commission action is a recommendation to the U.S. and Canadian governments for formal approval.  There are domestic processes in the respective countries that will take place in ensuing months, with the goal of having the revised fishery arrangements in place by January 1, 2009.   In the U.S., the process for final approval by the State Department includes analysis by the National Marine Fisheries Service that the fishery arrangements meet Endangered Species Act requirements.


Additional information can be found on the Pacific Salmon Commission website:



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Congressman Rahall Urges Caution Against Hasty Development of Offshore Aquaculture

May 9, 2008

Committee on Natural Resources Press Release 

CONTACT: Allyson Groff or Blake Androff, 202-226-9019

Washington, D.C. - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), citing a new report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on U.S. aquaculture, cautioned that the report’s findings illustrate that significant barriers still exist in the development of an environmentally safe offshore aquaculture industry.

Concerned by increased industry and stakeholder interest in expanding the U.S. aquaculture industry into offshore waters where no clear regulatory framework exists, Chairman Rahall asked the GAO in February 2007 to assess a variety of policy and regulatory questions to ensure that such development occurs in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.  While there are currently no aquaculture projects in U.S. federal waters, successful onshore farming operations do exist.

The GAO report underscores the need to establish a clear regulatory system to oversee the potential expansion of the aquaculture industry into offshore waters.

In April 2007, Rahall introduced the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 (H.R. 2010) at the request of, and as a courtesy to, the Administration.  The legislation would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to establish and implement a regulatory system for offshore aquaculture in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Administration’s proposed bill was a good first step, but it does not go far enough to ensure adequate protection for the marine environment.  This new report makes abundantly clear what I have long believed – any offshore aquaculture development must be done in a manner that does not jeopardize the health of our oceans or the viability of the fishing industry,” Rahall said.

The GAO report identifies several important safeguards that need to be carefully considered to help regulate the offshore aquaculture industry, including: 

  • The appointment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead federal agency to regulate and permit any offshore aquaculture facilities. 

  • The clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of other federal agencies and states in the administration of an offshore aquaculture program to minimize confusion. 

  • The establishment of a permitting and site selection process that clearly identifies the terms and conditions for offshore aquaculture operations. 

  • The implementation of a regulatory process to review, monitor, and mitigate the potential environmental impacts of offshore aquaculture facilities. 

  • Additional research on (1) developing fish feeds that do not rely heavily on harvesting wild fish; (2) developing best management practices; (3) exploring how escaped offshore aquaculture-raised fish might impact wild fish populations; and (4) developing strategies to breed and raise fish while effectively managing possible disease. 

The report, “Multiple Administrative and Environmental Issues Need to be Addressed in Establishing a U.S. Regulatory Framework”, is available on GAO’s Web site at: 

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Gov Palin Announces appointment to CFAB

Governor Palin appointed Chris McDowell to the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agricultural Bank Board of Directors (CFAB).  The governor appoints two of the seven-member CFAB, which manages the assets of and selects officers to the bank. CFAB was created to address limitations to the access to credit by resident Alaska commercial seafood harvesters, processors and farmers.  In 2000, CFAB’s statute was amended to expand its lending authority to include tourism- and resource-based industries. 

McDowell, of Juneau, has been the lead Seafood Industry Project Manager of the Salmon Market Information Service since 1998 and is widely acknowledged as one of Alaska’s leading experts on world salmon markets.  He is a lifetime Alaska resident and has been a vessel owner and permit-holder in three Alaska commercial salmon fisheries for more than 20 years. 

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Legislation introduced with possible Fuel Subsidies

H.R. 2133 was introduced in the House by Representative Allen of Maine.  Here is the section on commercial fishing: 


`(a) Allowance of Credit- In the case of an eligible taxpayer, the excessive fuel cost credit determined under this section is an amount equal to the excessive fuel cost paid or incurred by the taxpayer during the taxable year for any creditable fuel used in any trade or business of the taxpayer. `(b) Excessive Fuel Cost- For purposes of this section– 

`(1) IN GENERAL- The term `excessive fuel cost’ means, with respect to any creditable fuel, the excess (if any) of– `(A) the amount paid or incurred by the taxpayer for such fuel, over 

`(B) the adjusted base price for such fuel. `(2) ADJUSTED BASE PRICE- 

`(A) IN GENERAL- The term `adjusted base price’ means, with respect to any creditable fuel, the amount determined by the Secretary to be the applicable Labor Day 2004 price for such fuel adjusted for inflation. `(B) APPLICABLE PRICE- The applicable Labor Day 2004 price for any fuel is the average price for such fuel for the region in which the taxpayer purchased such fuel (as determined using data of the Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy). 

`(C) INFLATION ADJUSTMENT- The inflation adjustment shall be determined under the principles of section 1(f); except that, the Secretary shall use estimates of the monthly Consumer Price Index (as defined in such section) where possible to more closely reflect current inflation. `(c) Eligible Taxpayer- For purposes of this section– 

`(1) IN GENERAL- The term `eligible taxpayer’ means any person engaged in a trade or business if– `(A) such trade or business is– 

`(i) a farming business (as defined in section 263A(e)(4)), or `(ii) commercial fishing (as defined in section 3 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1802)), or 

`(B) such person is a small business. `(2) SMALL BUSINESS- The term `small business’ means a trade or business that employs an annual average of not more than 50 employees. 

`(3) CREDITABLE FUEL- The term `creditable fuel’ means– `(A) gasoline, 

`(B) diesel fuel, `(C) heating oil, and 

`(D) natural gas. `(d) Adjustment of Standard Mileage Rate- An eligible taxpayer may elect, in lieu of the credit under this section, a standard mileage allowance under section 162 equal to 60 cents for each mile traveled during the period described in subsection (e). The Secretary shall modify the standard mileage rate under the preceding sentence to the extent that 60 cents does not accurately reflect that value of the credit under this section. 

`(e) Application of Section- This section shall apply to fuels purchased during the 2-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this section.’. (b) Credit To Be Part of General Business Credit- Subsection (b) of section 38 of such Code is amended by striking `plus’ at the end of paragraph (30), by striking the period at the end of paragraph (31) and inserting `, plus’, and by adding at the end the following new paragraph: 

`(32) in the case of an eligible taxpayer (as defined in section 45O(c)), the excessive fuel cost credit determined under section 45O(a).’. (c) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections for subpart D of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of such Code is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 45N the following new item: 

`Sec. 45O. Temporary credit for small businesses, farmers, and fishermen to offset high fuel costs’. (d) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years ending after the date of the enactment of this Act. 

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Habitat Move Back to ADFG Underway

the following email from Commissioner of Fish and Game was posted on the internet and thought I would post it on this site, to provide an update of what is happening on the move of habitat division back to ADFG.

From: Lloyd, Denby S (DFG)
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 3:57 PM
To: DFG.All.Staff; DNR OHMP

Subject: Update on the Habitat Move
I wanted to provide you all an update regarding the move of Habitat Division (OHMP-DNR) back to ADF&G:
1.) The main organizational components of the new Habitat Division have been formulated. The structure includes 3 new Regional Supervisor positions: in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. These positions will be posted on Workplace Alaska this week and all qualified ADF&G and OHMP staff are encouraged to apply. Kerry Howard, Al Ott, and Charlie Swanton will be the hiring team for these regional supervisor slots.

2.) While the new Regional Supervisors are learning their jobs, the other 4 existing OHMP Area Offices (Palmer, Soldotna, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales) will continue to report to the OHMP Operations Manager (who will be reclassified to an ADF&G Deputy Director). Eventually these Area Managers will report to their geographic regional supervisors, as is the model elsewhere within ADF&G.

3.) Although Executive Order 114 doesn’t go into effect until July 1st, the OHMP Anchorage office will physically move to Raspberry Road on May 23rd. Plans are also underway to move the Juneau OHMP offices to Douglas and Headquarters offices of ADF&G. Thanks to all Divisions for their assistance and cooperation in finding space for ADF&G’s new employees.

4.) Seven Sport Fish Region V permitting staff will be joining the new Habitat Division. Over the last 4 years, these staff have made great progress in enhancing the management of legislatively-designated Special Areas. I would like to see that enhancement continue when Habitat assumes the special area duties. For the first time, Habitat will have two staff dedicated to Special Area planning and I’ve requested that the Divisions of Habitat and Wildlife Conservation staff work closely together to ensure coordinated management of these areas. Special area permitting will be done by Habitat biologists, by geographic area, which is how the former Habitat Division historically operated at ADF&G.
Now that the organizational and logistical aspects of the Habitat move are in play, it is time to focus upon developing a vision, mission statement, core services, and guiding principles on how the reconstituted Habitat Division will best help the department provide opportunities for resource development while conserving Alaska’s fish and wildlife.
As I have said before, I am excited to have Habitat return to ADF&G. I thank all of you for your continued assistance. And, I want to share my appreciation of Kerry Howard, Ken Taylor, and Tom Brookover for their efforts and forbearance; they’ve been working hard to make this transition smooth and effective.
If you have questions or concerns about the move, please feel free to contact Kerry, Ken, or Tom.
Best, DL.
Denby S. Lloyd
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, AK 99811-5526

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Official Board of Fish Teleconference Summary



Southeast King Salmon Sport Fishery

April 28, 2008

Summary of Actions

The Alaska Board of Fisheries (board) met by teleconference on April 28, 2008 to consider possible emergency regulations regarding sport fishing for king salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska.  Six of seven board members were in attendance (Morris absent).  Public listen-only sites were available in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, and Juneau. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently announced a 48 percent reduction in the Southeast Alaska king salmon harvest quota for the 2008 season.  The board considered possible adjustments to the sport fishing regulations beyond those announced by the department in a April 9, 2008 Emergency Order, including modifying the date of a salmon derby, allowing for in-season adjustment to regulations, and modifying the number of allowable lines for charter boats. 

The board adopted a finding of emergency based on the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or general welfare as provided for in Alaska Statute 44.62.250.

The board adopted an emergency regulation to apply to the 2008 season that would 1) allow retention of king salmon 28 inches or greater in length during the period of July 15-Sept. 30 by resident anglers, and 2) allow charter boats to use up to six lines in May and June.  In addition from July 15 through September 30 nonresidents may only retain king salmon 48 inches or greater in length.

The board noted that a key consideration from a resident fishing perspective was that prohibiting the retention of king salmon 28-inches or greater after August 1 for residents would essentially close an important fishing opportunity.  The action taken was intended by the board to allow for continued sport fishing opportunity for king salmon in marine waters for unguided sport anglers, consistent with board finding #1993-142-FB.  It was understood that a week-long reduction in non-resident fishing would make up the difference to allow an additional two months of resident fishing time in terms of conservation savings. 

The board also noted that a key consideration from a charter fleet perspective was avoiding a reduction in the number of lines allowed per vessel from six down to four, particularly during the months of May and June.  It was understood by the board that an additional week of non-resident fishing restriction in July would make up the difference in conservation savings that could be achieved by a reduction in the number of lines to four. 

The board addressed the allocation criteria, the sustainable salmon fisheries policy, and discussed costs to the public.  The board clarified its intent to delegate to the Commissioner the authority to adopt the emergency regulation permanently.  The emergency regulation will sunset on September 30, 2008.

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Board of Fish Tweaks Southeast Sport Fish King Salmon Management Plan

The Board of Fish met today by teleconference to discuss issues raised by implementing for the first time management measures listed in the management plan for abundance index less than 1.1.  The Board of Fish passed a motion for an emergency regulation:

1.) that maintains 6 lines or the number of paying clients on board for charter operators;

2.) The resident restriction in August thru September for 48″ or larger only kings was removed; and in return

3.) the restriction on non-residents keeping fish under 48″ was moved earlier to July 15th instead of August 1st.

The savings from moving the non-resident restriction of 48″ or larger for kings kept to July 15th makes up for the estimated changes on line limits and removing the restriction from residents.

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