New Alaska halibut fishing regulations are out, and more than a few anglers in the state’s most populous reason are sure to be considering whether they should buy a boat or get together with friends to buy a boat.
The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC), an organization dominated by commercial fishing interests, has imposed a four-fish seasonal limit on charter-boat anglers in and around Cook Inlet and the northeast Gulf of Alaska.
But it isn’t really four-fish.
Given a daily limit of two fish only one of which can be larger than 28 inches, charter anglers are looking at a seasonal limit of two halibut and two chickens. The dictionary defines a “chicken halibut” as simply a “young halibut.”
But in Alaska a chicken is generally considered anything under 10 to 12 pounds. The International Pacific Halibut Commission “halibut length/weight chart”puts a 28-inch halibut at 9.2 pounds.
The good new for Alaska anglers is that the regulation only applies to people fishing on charter boats.
“Guided (charter) recreational halibut anglers are managed under different regulations than unguided recreational halibut anglers in Areas 2C and 3A in Alaska,” according to the U.S. Department of Commerce which oversees the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which oversees the National Marine Fisheries Service which is supposed to oversee the NPFMC.
The catch limit for unguided, non-charter anglers in Alaska remains two fish per day of any size with no annual limit.
Some charter operators are unhappy about the new regulations, but these small business are generally powerless in Alaska politics. The NPFMC is, however, working on a scheme that might allow charter operators to buy halibut “quota” from the commercial fishermen who effectively own most of the halibut.
Charter operators could then use that quota to offer their clients more big fish, but any such plan if implemented is expected to significantly raise the price of charters.
Given all of this, the low-budget but somewhat risky kayak-fishing tactics of Alaskan Rudy Tsukada could start looking a lot more interesting to others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3uH2oRmlNo