Friday, May 17, 2013

About those hired skippers

When Alaska's halibut and sablefish fisheries went to individual fishing quotas in 1995, regulators envisioned predominantly owner-operated fisheries. That is, IFQ holders should be on the boat when the fish are caught.

In 2010, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council began hearing reports that progress toward the owner-onboard goal was slipping.

The reason was the expanding use of "hired skippers."

IFQ holders increasingly were employing other people to run their boats and harvest the halibut and sablefish. What's more, they were buying additional quota and using hired skippers to catch that fish, too.

Original quota recipients are allowed to use a hired skipper. Regulators recognized it was a widespread practice prior to IFQs. And they figured it would subside as fishermen retired.

The council saw, however, that the transition to owner-onboard fisheries actually was moving in the opposite direction.

A federal analysis found that between 1998 and 2009, the number of original recipients using hired skippers in the halibut fishery increased from 110 to 210. Halibut IFQ landed by hired skippers went from 7.9 percent to more than 19 percent.

A similar trend was seen in the sablefish fishery.

Officials now are moving to tighten regulations on hired skippers.

A proposed rule would bar an original recipient from using a hired skipper to harvest IFQ acquired after a cutoff date of Feb. 12, 2010.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is taking comments on the proposed rule through May 28. Read the Federal Register notice here.


Anonymous said...

The hired skipper rule was put in by the schooner-heads who controlled the halibut commission. Most schooners were run by hired crews, skippers included, so by grandfathering in the owners of these boats to own quota, but not have to participate in the fishery, it gave these owners an advantage, especially when they were allowed to buy more quota and still not have to participate. You and I on the other hand could buy the grandfathered quota and still be required to participate.

Your article is wrong where you say "Original quota recipients are allowed to use a hired skipper. Regulators recognized it was a widespread practice prior to IFQs. And they figured it would subside as fishermen retired." Only boats that had hired skippers before IFQs were allowed to continue the practice.

The increased percentage is probably due to these owners buying more quota which is then fished by hired skippers and crews.

No one who wasn't grandfathered in can lease out quota without being onboard. It is becoming popular however for holders of smaller blocks of quota to jump on a "Russian Old Believer" boat and let them catch your quota for a small %. While you are certainly on-board, the amount of work you do is up to your conscience or boredom.

Anonymous said...

The schooner heads may have pushed through the hired skipper component ,but did so on behalf of the vocal Kodiak Seven KLVOA. Had they not pacified them, down in flames IFQ program.
Deck boss was on key reporting that initial recipients were given grandfather rights to lease quota whether they used hired skipper in qualifying Years or not. Case in point, 2C quota has been 100 percent owner on board since day one of program. If an initial recipient of IFQ quota was given all 2c quota and wants to quit fishing but still keeping IFQ revenue, he simple sells 2c and buys any other area quota and he may use hired skipper privilege to lease. It matters not if he employed hired skipper in qualifying years.
Good fishing.

Anonymous said...

Halibut commission did not pass hired skipper provision, NPFMC process did.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the "dude fishing" concept is very prevalent, too. Say you're a retired exec from IBM. Your return on investment from $50,000 worth of halibut or sablefish quota, fished "dude style" pencils out nicely. Even factoring in your plane tickets to Sitka or Homer.

Along with hired skippers taking almost 1/5 the harvest, dude fishing is yet one more unintended consequence of dedicated catch shares programs.

Anonymous said...

To little to late. A couple
of dozen of the wealthy "LANDLORDS"
Which include NPFMC Members,past
and present have milked the cow dry.
They destroyed the industry for
90 plus percent of the crew's
all of our children and now,
18 years later we fill in the loop
Who is going to tell the East Coast and other Council's what
damage has been done to thousands
in Alaska.NMFS and our NPFMC have
been the pied pipers of IFQs
to Lubchenco and the East Coasters
for years. When will the NMFS and
NPFMC tell the world, the IFQ System in Alaska has been a failure
since 1995.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Hired Skipper since the IFQ system was put in place.I invested the money I made in IFQ of my own.I now have enough IFQ of my own to make a good living.The IFQ system has worked fine for me.

Anonymous said...

IFQs and the conflict around them is a very good eye opener for the Alaskans who ignored the big picture for years.

Too busy believing hearsay and not taking the time to check the facts is leaving a whole lot of people in the dark and cold especially in Western Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Blogger 5/18 @ 2:43 AM could be a relative of the origional IFQ holder for all we know. Good for him and the handful getting rich on the peoples resource. We aught to tax commercial fishermen at least 20% for our furture enhancement efforts to maintain the resource at the level of harvest given them by the regulators who are ignoring subsistence rights that are suppose to come first.

Anonymous said...

2:43, But you are serious about fishing, whereas 1:21 just wants to gripe. He is the kind of guy they want for drama on the Deadliest and we do't want for crew.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense that more quota is being fished by hired skippers they are getting older and don't want to be on the boat. The original plan was to have the initial allocates die out. I'm not a original quota holder, but slowly bought a little bit of halibut. Its not a perfect system, but I don't think its wise to keep changing the regs and creating uncertanty in the system.

If you download the data from NOAA you will see that in 1995 the top 20% initial allocates got the bulk of the fish. If you look at this years data you'll see that the quota is spread out better.

Jane DiCosimo said...

Two corrections to the first commnet:

ALL initial IFQ recipients are allowed to hire skippers, whether they are individuals or corporations.

ALL initial IFQ recipients are allowed to hire skippers, whether they did during the qualifying years for theprogram or not.

Anonymous said...

No hired skippers in 2c halibut.