The statewide halibut and black cod season opened last Saturday. When YK Delta fishermen participate in the Community Development Quota allocations this summer, they will see their halibut quota cut nearly in half.
Dawson Hoover is the Communication and Community Benefits manager for Coastal Villages Region Fund.
“It’s devastating for a lot of fisherman. We have 184-plus boats that have a couple people in each boat, for a lot of people its their main source of income for the year, these cuts are devastating for our residents who need to pay the bills to sustain their families,” Hoover said.
The 2014 quota stands for Coastal Villages stands at 107,000 pounds, that’s the biggest cut among the CDQ groups and accounts for a 48 percent drop over last year. The International Pacific Halibut Commission finalized the quotas in January. CVRF proposed doubling the CDQ’s quota. Last year’s quota was some 210,000 pounds. It took less than two weeks to catch the entire quota. Hoover says it may take only a week this year. He says CVRF wants a review of the science that exists on nearby halibut stocks.
“We know that there aren’t any recent studies done in the area we fish in. The word of mouth from our fisherman is that towards the end of the commercial fishing season last year,” Hoover said. “They are catching bigger halibut, the girth was bigger. Because there aren’t any studies done, and because of the bigger fish they are catching, we believe that we shouldn’t have gotten these big cuts.”
Hoovers says he doesn’t anticipate any changes in the 2014 quotas. Statewide, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for Alaska halibut and black cod are set at 16.8 million pounds and 33.6 million pounds respectively.