WASHINGTON -- Anglers who go out on charter-fishing boats in Southeast Alaska will be limited to taking just one halibut a day, a federal judge ruled today.
Charter-boat owners and operators had asked U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer for an emergency injunction to stop the rule from taking effect on Friday, but she denied their motion.
However, Collyer said, the charters may still go forward with their lawsuit challenging the rule that cuts the daily catch limit from two to one, Collyer said. Charter operators last year successfully blocked the federal government's efforts to impose a one-fish limit.
John Butler, an attorney for the charter-boat owners and operators, argued that limiting the catch to one halibut will be a financial blow to business owners whose customers have grown accustomed to being able to catch up to two halibut a day and will no longer book fishing trips in Southeast.
They also argued that the number of halibut caught by charter boats was negligible in the overall catch limits imposed by the federal government, especially compared to what commercial operators take.
But a lawyer for the government, Robert Williams, argued that the charter catch was eating away at the overall number of halibut available -- including for commercial fisheries.
"This is a finite resource," he said. "Any catch from the one sector is eventually going to come out of the hide of another sector."
The one-fish limit applies only to Southeast charters, not to those in Cook Inlet.
Find Erika Bolstad online at adn.com/contact/ebolstad or call her in Washington, D.C., at 202-383-6104.