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This week the International Pacific Halibut Commission released the 2017 catch limits and seasons. For Area 2C Southeast Alaska the limits are up modestly, with the combined (commercial and guided sport) limit set at 5,250,000 pounds, up from 4,950,000 pounds. The guided sport share of this is set at 915,000 pounds, up from 906,000.The regulations for the season have not yet been published, these should appear shortly. Interestingly a number of proposals were requested as part of the 2017 rule making process. These proposals include a request to eliminate the skin-on requirement and several requests to standardize the charter versus self-guided sportfisher regulations.
A proposal was put in to specifically allow live-aboard sportfishers to fully fillet and properly preserve caught fish. It will be interesting to see if any of these will be acted upon.
(d) No person shall possess on board a vessel, including charter vessels and pleasure craft used for fishing, halibut that have been filleted, mutilated, or otherwise disfigured in any manner, except that each halibut may be cut into no more than 2 ventral pieces, 2 dorsal pieces, and 2 cheek pieces, with skin on all pieces. – Pacific Halibut Fishery Regulations 2016
The prohibition on processing fish on-board is the real issue. For a vessel which does not operate out of a port each day this effectively prohibits halibut fishing unless the fish can be off-loaded somehow. Such vessels are quite common, essentially all live-aboard cruisers. This, of course, includes the Nordic Quest.
On the dry, wrapped and heated, the Nordic Quest is ready for anything that the winter months in Juneau can send her way. In med-September we hauled out the Nordic Quest at the new Auke Bay facility. We performed end of the season maintenance and began the lengthy process of winterizing her. By mid December the temperatures plummeted and the snow and ice started with a vengeance. But she was ready. The load of crusty snow caused a bit of a problem with the temporary frame and had to be beefed up, but she is fine. Had a problem with the moisture affecting the shore power connection but luckily we caught that issue quickly as the boat is checked once a week.
We will be ready for the 2017 summer charter season and are very excited about some new arrangements. First off, the Nordic Quest will charter out of Auke Bay rather than Aurora Harbor on Gastineau Channel. This will reduce the cruising time nearly four hours when headed for Icy Strait or other points to the west of Juneau.
A second option we hope to offer to serious fishermen is picking up processed fish that is flown back to Juneau and holding it frozen until the end of a charter for non-guided, halibut fishing. This is about the only option due to strict enforcement of Intl. Halibut Commission requirements and risk of hefty fines. Fully processed halibut catch simply cannot remain on board.
We’ll have more information on our new chartering arrangements up on this site in a few weeks. So check back frequently.