In a dark day for Alaska’s small boat halibut fishery and the next generation of commercial halibut fishermen, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) today authorized formation of a non-profit Recreational Quota Entity (RQE) that can purchase and hold commercial halibut quota in Areas 2C and 3A for use by the charter sector.
The Council took this action despite strong opposition from commercial fishermen and processors, Gustavus coastal residents, and the National Park Service at Glacier Bay, all of whom weighed in to oppose the subsidized reallocation of quota from the commercial to the charter sector. Details of the decision are below, but for the record the only Alaskan to vote against the action was Buck Laukitis. He was joined by Oregon and Washington representatives Roy Hyder and Kenny Downs. Council chair Dan Hull and ADFG Commissioner Sam Cotton spoke in strong support of the RQE amendment.
Council final action on Charter Recreational Quota Entity
- Establish an RQE as a qualified non-profit entity registered with the IRS to purchase and hold commercial halibut QS for the guided halibut sector.
- Establish one RQE with two quota pools, one in each Area 2C and Area 3A
- Allow two way transfers. Quota class and block designation is retained if the quota is transferred back to the commercial sector.
- Annual limit on transfers to the RQE in each regulatory area are 1% in Area 2C and 1.2% in Area 3A (amounts based on 2015 QS pool)
Total (cumulative) limit on amount of commercial quota share held by RQE and leased under GAF:
10% of the 2015 commercial QS pool may be held as RQE and Guided Angler Fish (GAF) combined in Area 2C and 12% of the commercial QS pool may be held as RQE and GAF combined in Area 3A
Cumulative cap will be managed annually on a sliding scale between RQE and GAF, with GAF transfers restricted to accommodate RQE QS holdings.
The RQE may not purchase more than 10% of the D shares in Area 2C (annually and in total) and not more than 10% of the B shares in Area 2C. The RQE may not purchase any D shares
No D shares in Area 3. No more than 10 percent D or 10 percent B shares in 2C
The RQE may not purchase blocked QS that equates to less than less than or equal to 1500 pounds in 2015 pounds.
Use RQE QS holdings as of October 1 each year as the basis to estimate IFQ pounds to add to the estimated guided recreational allocation under the catch sharing plan for the upcoming year. This amount must be maintained for the following fishing year. This estimated combined allocation would be used to recommend the guided recreational harvest measure for the following year.
If the RQE holdings provide a charter harvest opportunity greater than the unguided recreational bag limit in either area, NMFS would not issue annual IFQ in excess of the amount needed for the charter sector to obtain the unguided recreational bag limit to the RQE for that area. (This is VERY unlikely in Area 2C; could happen in Area 3A)
Unallocated RQE IFQ would be reallocated as follows:
- 50% to all catcher vessel QS holders in the applicable area who do not hold more than 32,333 QS units in Area 2C and 47,469 units in Area 3A (2,000 pounds in 2015). This 50% redistributed among qualified QS holders proportional to their QS holdings.
- 50% equally among all CQEs that held halibut QS in the applicable Area in the year prior to the reallocation. If no CQE held QS in the applicable area in the preceding year, unallocated RQE IFQ would not be allocated in that area (left in the water).
The Council envisions the RQE will use funds primarily for the acquisition of commercial halibut quota, halibut conservation/research; promotion of the halibut resource; and administrative costs. Council intends the RQE resources not be involved in political campaigns.
RQE organizational structure:
To be approved as an entity eligible to purchase and hold commercial halibut QS, the RQE must submit articles of incorporation and management organizational information to NMFS, including 1) bylaws and 2) a list of key personnel including, but not limited to, the board of directors, officers, representatives and managers. In addition:
- A representative of the Alaska Department of Revenue may sit as an ex-officio member of the RQE board, and the Commissioner of ADFG, or their designee, may sit as a voting member of the RQE board.
- The RQE shall file an annual report detailing RQE activities during the prior year by January 31. The annual report shall be provided to the Council and shall include:
1) List of all purchases and sales of QS
2) Any changes to the bylaws from the preceding year
3) Any changes to the BOD or key personnel from the preceding year
4) Number of charter halibut permits purchased or held
5) Funds spent on conservation, research and promotion of the halibut resource and a summary of the results
6) Administrative expenses.
Big thanks to Jeff Farvour, Carina Nichols and Dan Falvey who travelled to Anchorage to testify. We could have use about 80 more commercial fishermen at the meeting.
Thank you also to Carter Hughes, who testified for Seafood Producers Cooperative, Jim Machovjak who testified for Gustavus-based fishermen, Rhonda and Jim Hubbard of Kruzof Fisheries, Matt and Malcolm Milne, from North Pacific Fisheries Association, Megan O'Neil, from PVOA, and to Tom Gemmell of the Halibut Coalition, who kept the troops organized and well-informed.
More to follow soon once the Council takes action on electronic monitoring....