Friday, June 5, 2009

What's next for charter halibut case?

Now that a federal judge has declined to block the one-fish rule, tourists and other anglers who go fishing on halibut charter boats in Southeast Alaska (Area 2C) will have to settle for one keeper a day instead of two, effective yesterday.

Now the lawsuit six charter boat operators are pressing against the federal government moves to trial.

"The trial on the merits of the case will likely commence in July," the Halibut Coalition said in a press release Thursday.

The coalition includes commercial halibut fishermen, processors and others who support the one-fish rule as a way to control the growing charter catch halibut in Southeast. That catch ultimately eats away at commercial catch quotas.

Thursday's ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer of Washington, D.C., was particularly interesting because a year ago she granted the charter plaintiffs an injunction blocking the one-fish rule.

She hasn't yet issued a written opinion, but evidently she feels the National Marine Fisheries Service has patched up leaks in the rule since the agency first attempted to impose it.

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