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Charter halibut boats must have permits onboard

June 3, 2013

An undercover operation by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement has resulted in a $15,000 fine for an individual in Alaska who was taking customers on a charter halibut fishing trip without the required charter halibut permit.

Halibut caught aboard a vessel lacking the required charter halibut permit onboard are rendered illegal. Credit: NOAA

Since February 1, 2011, all charter halibut vessel operators in Southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska with clients onboard must have a valid charter halibut permit onboard during every charter vessel fishing trip. NOAA Fisheries implemented this program based on recommendations by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to provide stability in the fishery by limiting the number of charter vessels that may participate. The program goals are to increase the value of the resource, limit boats to qualified active participants in the guided sport halibut sector, and enhance economic stability in rural coastal communities.

Sidney Bouschor of Anchorage, Alaska, was assessed a $30,300 civil penalty by the NOAA Office of General Counsel’s Enforcement Section on November 26, 2012, for operating a charter vessel with charter anglers on board without the required permit, in violation of the North Pacific Halibut Act and its implementing regulations. Bouschor admitted the charge, but claimed an inability to pay the entire assessed penalty. After supplying the required financial documentation to NOAA, which was evaluated by a NOAA financial expert, NOAA’s Office of General Counsel found it appropriate to settle the case for $15,000.

“We get a lot of complaints about this, and it is important that the charter halibut community understand that we are not going to tolerate operators fishing without the required permits,” said Matthew Brown, Special Agent in Charge of the Alaska Division. “Our job is not only to protect the resource, we’re also here to make sure that those who obey the rules reap the benefits of fair competition and an even playing field in the market.”

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and Office of General Counsel protect marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and international treaty requirements designed to ensure these global resources are available for future generations.

For more information on the Charter Halibut Limited Access Program, please see the compliance guide at

This story was developed by Lesli Bales-Sherrod, communications specialist for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. To contact her, please call 301-427-8234 or email