Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:53 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Charter operators lose fight in court

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

It was a setback Tuesday for halibut charter operators hoping to prevail against the National Marine Fisheries Service's limited entry program that took effect Feb. 1.

Forty-four Charter Operators of Alaska members were named as plaintiffs in the suit, with additional support coming from 50 contributors. Representing the plaintiffs was D. Kent Safreit of Hopping Green and Sams in Tallahassee, Fla.

The program impacted operators in Area 2C, southeast, and Area 3A, southcentral. To qualify for a permit under the NMFS program, operators had to show a specified amount of activity in 2004 of 2005, as well as 2008. According to information provided by COA, 854 guided charters operated in 2008 in the two areas. A total 327 businesses have failed to meet the specified threshold.

"We'll have a conference call Wednesday and decide what direction to go," Kent Haina of Homer, COA spokesperson, told the Homer News Tuesday afternoon. "We'll have to determine the probability of success of any future court action and the economics of it."

Text of the hearing will be posted soon on the COA web site, www.charteroperatorsofalaska.org.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.