No halibut solution yet

The halibut season is forging ahead March 1 without significant change to the quota allocations. But fisheries minister Gail Shea has only succeeded in delaying the process again and leaving fishermen fighting among themselves. At the crux of the controversy is how much of the  quota should be allocated to sport fishermen. Currently the split is 88 per cent commercial, 12 per cent recreational. Included in the recreational allocation are all the fishing lodges and charter businesses that have popped up in nearly every community on the coast in recent years. Understandably, they want the season to last long enough they can serve their clients and make a profit.Commercial fishermen want to make a living too and are an important part of the  economy. And of course North Island fishermen like to put a fish in the freezer as well. But now fishermen know when the season will start, but not when it will end. And there is no end in sight for the controversy.Some real solutions must be sought before the 2011 season.Pointing accusing fingers and calling names as some have been doing, is not the answer. Several options have been proposed including issuing halibut tags, like salmon tags. All parties have agreed to this solution, but the feds say it can’t happen. Other options that have been explored are less palatable to one or more of the groups involved. It is time for the minister to stop feeding the fight and start coming up with a solution that really works.

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