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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) held a briefing earlier last week, discussing its stock assessment and preliminary recommended catch limits for 2012. After following all the proceedings, Senator Murkowski had the following reaction to the announcements:
“It is disappointing to hear further reductions are likely, and that the IPHC is suggesting potentially drastic model changes may be needed that would cause steeper reductions. Whether the changes are incorporated this year or in future years, the discussion creates more uncertainty for the commercial fishing industry, sport charter businesses, and Alaska’s fishing communities that have already taken a serious economic hit from reduced harvest levels and changing management measures.
“I’m also concerned at the manner the commission staff presented its findings and data. Conflicting information, lack of clear recommendations, topped off by an abrupt end to the public portion of the meeting combined to leave important questions unanswered about the crucial steps needed to ensure the health of our halibut resource and fisheries.”
The IPHC staff preliminary catch level recommendations will be used by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) in their meeting starting next week to make recommendations for 2012 charter halibut management measures in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska . IPHC staff recommendations and NPFMC recommendations for charter management measures will be considered by IPHC commissioners at their January 2012 Annual Meeting, where a final decision will be made.