Southeast Halibut Charter Harvest Within Allocation

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by Angela Krenzien

For the first time in seven years, the southeast Alaska halibut charter catch falls within allocation guidelines.

The Halibut Coalition compiled state and federal fisheries data, releasing their findings Sunday. Preliminary Alaska Fish and Game Department estimates show about 388,000 pounds of fish were caught this year; that’s about half of the fleet’s 790,000 pound allocation.

Regulations in place since 2009 allow charter anglers to catch just one fish a day, and a new rule this year limits the maximum size of a halibut that can be kept to 37 inches.

Despite the overall economy and the limits and rules that are set to control the problem of overfishing, angler interest in southeast Alaska has remained steady. The Halibut Coalition says controlling the harvest is crucial to rebuilding the halibut resource.

Greg Sutter, President of the Alaska Charter Association, says the 37 inch rule has hit operations hard, causing some anglers to cancel their reservations or to go to south central Alaska where rules are different.

Executive director of the Southeast Alaska Guides Organization, Heath Hilyard, says the full brunt of the changes have not been felt yet and that the best option moving forward would be to emphasize catching mostly smaller fish while still allowing the opportunity for clients to catch larger trophy fish.

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