Lawsuit over halibut charter restrictions grows

May 27, 2009 

JUNEAU -- A group representing commercial fishermen is jumping into a lawsuit over how many halibut can be caught by sport anglers on charter boats.

The Halibut Coalition says a new federal rule limiting anglers to one fish is fair and necessary to protect halibut stocks.

Charter operators have sued to overturn the rule. They say sport fishermen won't hire them if anglers are permitted just one halibut apiece.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says charter operators have exceeded their harvest quota for several years.

Commercial fishermen say they have accepted a 54 percent reduction in the commercial quota over the last four years and the charter fleet must share in the conservation burden.

The new rule is scheduled to take effect June 5.

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