February 27, 2017 — Commercial longline fishing fleets in Alaska are awaiting word about whether the season for halibut and black cod will actually start on March 11th. That’s the date voted on for halibut fishing by the International Pacific Halibut Commission in January. Typically the National Marine Fisheries Service also opens long-line fishing for black cod on the same day. This year that’s all up in the air.
The reason for the uncertainty is an executive order from President Trump in January requiring for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination. Trump also issued a 60-day freeze on new and pending regulations until they had been reviewed by the head of an agency appointed by the president.
The start dates for the fishing seasons require the publishing of regulations in the Federal Register. As of late February those regulations had not yet been published. During a recent stop in Ketchikan, Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said she’s trying to get to the bottom of what the president’s executive order means for Alaska fisheries.
“While I like the idea of eliminating some of the regulatory underbrush I think we recognize that in certain areas and this is exactly one of those we count on our agencies to be prompt and diligent in laying down these regs so that people can engage in their business and their livelihood,” Murkowski said. “We need to make that happen.” Murkowski said she didn’t yet know about whether the season would be able to start on March 11.