Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hickel and halibut

Wally Hickel, the former Alaska governor who died Friday, was always thinking big. And so I expect his sendoff will be big, too.

Here's a remembrance from a fish perspective.

In 1991, during Hickel's second go as governor, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved revolutionary individual fishing quotas for the halibut and black cod fisheries. Or what people fashionably call "catch shares" today.

How did this happen?

As the story goes, Hickel instructed his "fisheries tsar," Clem Tillion, who held a seat and considerable sway on the council, to put more fresh halibut on the dinner table by creating longer, less frenzied fisheries.

Like 'em or hate 'em, that's pretty much what IFQs have done for halibut, which used to all pile onto the docks in only a few hours and head straight for the freezer.

Deckboss hopes Hickel got his share of that fresh halibut toward the end of his 90 years.

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