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NOAA extends comment period for proposed halibut regulations

Alaska Dispatch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration met fierce opposition from the Halibut charter fishing industry in Homer when it announced planned regulations that would decimate the industry by limiting boats to catch one fish less than 37 inches each day. That change, which is spearheaded by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has led some like Alaska Dispatch's Craig Medred to draw comparisons to mafia-style tactics. At least for 15 days, however, the Feds are taking a step back to allow time for additional comments from fishermen currently out on the water -- the deadline for comments is now Sept. 21. The change comes partly in thanks to a meeting NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco had with Sen. Mark Begich, he said in a press release. "As a direct result of the meeting (Begich) arranged in Homer last week for (Lubchenco) and the senator to meet with fishermen and others, NOAA has extended the comment period for the proposed halibut catch sharing plan," the release said. "While we need a plan to keep all segments of the halibut fishery within catch limits to sustain and rebuild the stocks, charter fishermen raised several legitimate issues at the Homer meeting warranting further consideration."