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Old 06-28-2019, 08:57 PM   #1
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Boarded by NOAA

Three days ago in Clarence Strait, we were boarded by NOAA. Their boarding included the typical checking of licenses and gear and fish on board. They asked to look in the freezer we had on the upper deck. Since I didn't have any halibut on board, I didn't question why they wanted to look in the freezer. I knew why and it deals with the Federal Rules on halibut in Alaska waters. The specific provision in the rules is detailed below:

"No person shall possess on board a vessel, including charter vessels and pleasure craft used for fishing, Pacific halibut that have been filleted, mutilated, or otherwise disfigured in any manner, except that each Pacific halibut may be cut into no more than 2 ventral pieces, 2 dorsal pieces, and 2 cheek pieces, with a patch of skin on each piece, naturally attached."

If you want to read more here is the complete list of rules: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alask...halibut-alaska. These rules are the product of the North Pacific Halibut Commission probably combined with a few government employees who have never left the beltway. As a liveaboard, I don't really know how to comply fully with these rules. For example if I have eaten some of the four fillets off each halibut, am I in compliance. I don't salvage the cheeks on small halibut, there simply is nothing to salvage. If the cheeks are missing, am I in compliance. If I want to keep an 80lb halibut, how do I preserve it since the freezer has the space only if it is cut into pieces.

I have always wondered about the mission of NOAA Fisheries. Stopping pleasure boats on inland waters to look for fish seems pretty low on the priority list. I thought their primary mission was commercial fisheries in the US territorial waters. Why are they spending $250,000 on boats only suitable for enforcement on inland waters? I understand the object is to protect halibut stocks, but stopping liveaboard pleasure boats (not charters) to inspect freezers which at most can hold 50lbs of fish doesn't seem to being reaching that goal, when three shore based self guided anglers in a good week can take 300lbs of halibut south with them as checked luggage.

All I ask is a rule I can deal with. The current rule is unworkable. Since the halibut take is measured in pounds, tell many how many pounds I can have on board for each angler. That at least allows for consumption.

Tom
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:00 PM   #2
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Now THAT is definitely a West Coast thing! Maybe even a North West Coast thing!
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:45 PM   #3
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NOAA?

ummm.... no sir, you may not board my boat.
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:52 PM   #4
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I don't think its only a west coast thing. Here in New England they are pretty strict about Striped Bass size limits. I don't think you are allowed to have any stripers that are cleaned and filletted because it might have been one that was too short and its length can't be verified.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:13 PM   #5
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Tom, here's the explanation from the same young NOAA fish agent from Juneau who boards us every year. You probably were boarded by the same guy. Its usually around Noyes Island for us.

NOAA can't go by pounds and cutup fish because they can't tell how many fish you have in your freezer, which is how the possession limit is defined. But if they can see what you have is 2 dorsal fillets, 2 ventrals, and a couple cheeks, that equals one halibut against your limit. Then everything is fine with them. Even if you cut off a portion for dinner. Benevolent of them.

In terms of how cruising boats cope with this rule when they catch a big fish, the response is...that's your problem. We now have two freezers and about 10 cu ft of capacity to deal with this rule.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:15 PM   #6
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Tom, here's the explanation from the same young NOAA fish agent from Juneau who boards us every year. You probably were boarded by the same guy. Its usually around Noyes Island for us.



I'm still stuck on NOAA being able to randomly board boats. They aren't coast guard or law enforcement. What jurisdiction do they have?
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:24 PM   #7
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Toocoys, they have Glocks and are enforcers of a multi-national fish treaty. They are federal agents. I guess getting boarded by them could be taken before a federal judge but good luck with that.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:27 PM   #8
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Toocoys, they have Glocks and are enforcers of a multi-national fish treaty. They are federal agents. I guess getting boarded by them could be taken before a federal judge but good luck with that.
Never heard of such a thing. I didn't even know NOAA did that.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:51 PM   #9
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I'm still stuck on NOAA being able to randomly board boats. They aren't coast guard or law enforcement. What jurisdiction do they have?
NOAA regulates a lot of fisheries. They often partner with state police and USCG. USCG signs Memo of Understanding delegating a lot of authority to a dozen different agencies, all with law enforcement capabilities.

They have all gone way beyond checking flares for expiration dates.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:54 PM   #10
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Never heard of such a thing. I didn't even know NOAA did that.
The reason that the Alaska fisheries have escaped the dismal experience of the rest of the nation is the rigorous enforcement of the NOAA and the Alaska DF&G.

Roll on!
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:16 AM   #11
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Ken,

My problem is the two fish limit and four fish in possession in a freezer only applies on a boat, not on land or a boat with no fishing tackle. It's illogical to count fish in a freezer on a boat and not count them on land. What are they trying to protect and are they doing it effectively? The answer to the last part is probably no since the halibut take from pleasure craft where the owner lives aboard is a very small fraction of a per cent of the total halibut take by all means, certainly not enough to spend time checking for compliance with a quirky rule.

I wonder how NOAA deals with the 130 foot yacht towing a 28 foot Kingfisher where all the fishing tackle is kept on the Kingfisher. Seems to me it doesn't apply to them. When I was part owner of a charter fishing business, we dealt with the first charter permist in the Cook Inlet. At that time, the overall management of halibut was in pounds, but the powers at be only collected numbers of sport caught halibut so there was a conversion factor to get to an estimate of pounds of sport caught halibut. Even today the IPHC allocates pounds to the sport fishery. 50 lbs of halibut could be one fish or 4 fish, what difference does it make, it's 50 lbs and it can be measured in a freezer and relates to how overall take of halibut is measured. A limit on pounds of sport caught halibut in a freezer on a boat is a more reasonable rule. I guess I could just get a subsistence permit and see how that works.

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Old 06-29-2019, 03:02 AM   #12
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Did NOAH take 2 fish on the Ark? NOAA may be carrying on very old traditions.
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Old 06-29-2019, 06:26 AM   #13
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subsistence permit
The idea of a subsistence permit is so ironic we should all choke on it. A permit to feed sugar to children makes more sense. US citizens are quickly becoming an threatened species.


Sure, it's a free country … If you have the corrects permits to breath.
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:39 AM   #14
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50 lbs of halibut could be one fish or 4 fish, what difference does it make, it's 50 lbs
I'm neither a fisher, a biologist nor an OB/GYN, so just a wild guess; it seems like one fish, removes one fish from the reproductive population and 4 fish removes 4.

One fish, four fish.
Five fish, no more fish.
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Old 06-29-2019, 10:13 AM   #15
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The problem here is liveaboard status.

You are allowed to keep a unlimited amount of fish in your freezer at home.

You are only allowed to have four Halibut in possession on a boat.

What happens when your home is your boat?

Which rules apply? Are liveaboards not allowed to store fish for the off season like land based folks?

Clearly in the case of Halibut, No.
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Old 06-29-2019, 10:16 AM   #16
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Yeah, I always thought NOAA was just there to tell us when it's safe to sink our boats.
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Old 06-29-2019, 11:00 AM   #17
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tpbrady thanks for bringing this up. We will be making our first trip to AK next year and I have wondered about the rules for storing frozen fish on board.
How do the rules apply when you cross into Canada?
My freezers are not large so not sure I would be able to bring a fish over 30 lbs or so on board for processing. The fillets would not fit in freezer as one piece. All very befuddling.
I guess I better become an expert on rules for this trip.
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Old 06-29-2019, 11:42 AM   #18
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Ken,

My problem is the two fish limit and four fish in possession in a freezer only applies on a boat, not on land or a boat with no fishing tackle. It's illogical to count fish in a freezer on a boat and not count them on land. What are they trying to protect and are they doing it effectively? The answer to the last part is probably no since the halibut take from pleasure craft where the owner lives aboard is a very small fraction of a per cent of the total halibut take by all means, certainly not enough to spend time checking for compliance with a quirky rule.

I wonder how NOAA deals with the 130 foot yacht towing a 28 foot Kingfisher where all the fishing tackle is kept on the Kingfisher. Seems to me it doesn't apply to them. When I was part owner of a charter fishing business, we dealt with the first charter permist in the Cook Inlet. At that time, the overall management of halibut was in pounds, but the powers at be only collected numbers of sport caught halibut so there was a conversion factor to get to an estimate of pounds of sport caught halibut. Even today the IPHC allocates pounds to the sport fishery. 50 lbs of halibut could be one fish or 4 fish, what difference does it make, it's 50 lbs and it can be measured in a freezer and relates to how overall take of halibut is measured. A limit on pounds of sport caught halibut in a freezer on a boat is a more reasonable rule. I guess I could just get a subsistence permit and see how that works.

Tom
Tom, further to your question of how 100'+ superyachts towing big tenders are treated fish-wise....if you pass through Craig AK this summer, a 120' boat, Silverado, operates out of there as a mothership for the owners. According to Steve the captain who I've talked to over the years, NOAA and ADF&G badger him constantly on number of fish caught, who caught them, if they are a guide operation in disguise, etc. I don't know the specifics on what rules are being applied to them, but they are on the enforcement radar screen in a big way.
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:40 PM   #19
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So 14 USC ,89. gives the right for CG boarding, I have never heard of NOAA boarding. If they have a CG boarding officer aboard, it is basically a CG boarding. I'm sure they have a Federal authority to board, I just have never heard of it. I was an ex CG boarding officer a hundred years ago..
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Old 06-29-2019, 01:06 PM   #20
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The reason that the Alaska fisheries have escaped the dismal experience of the rest of the nation is the rigorous enforcement of the NOAA and the Alaska DF&G.

Roll on!
No necessarily true. The make up of the IPHC is stacked against sport fisherman. The Commission is comprised of government officials from Oregon, Washington, B.C. Canada, Alaska and commercial fisherman. The sport angler gets one person to represent them. The commercial fisherman have been successful in decimating and limiting sport fishing by controlling charters, which are nothing more than a taxi service.

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The problem here is liveaboard status.

You are allowed to keep a unlimited amount of fish in your freezer at home.

You are only allowed to have four Halibut in possession on a boat.

What happens when your home is your boat?

Which rules apply? Are liveaboards not allowed to store fish for the off season like land based folks?

Clearly in the case of Halibut, No.
These are my questions too. If you declare you are a liveaboard/Full time cruiser before any boarding does the NOAA have the right to board? If a boat is your "Home/place of residence" does not the U.S. Constitution come into play requiring a search warrant.

If the freezer is on land in your garage, then LEO are required to have a search warrant unless you voluntarily allow them to search.
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