Longliners propose further capacity reduction

Perhaps you remember how, in 2007, the Bering Sea freezer longliner fleet took on a $35 million federal loan to buy out three vessels.

Well, the fleet is now proposing to shoulder an additional $2.7 million loan to retire a latent permit and its fishing history.

The fleet would pay for the permit buyout with a small landings fee collected over 30 years.

The permit isn't associated with a vessel, so an additional boat would not be removed from the fishery.

And why would freezer longliners want to retire a latent, or inactive, permit?

"All vessels ... would benefit from a permit buyback because there will be less potential competition for the harvest," says this notice published July 30 in the Federal Register.

The notice, so far as I can tell, does not identify the permit owner.

With more than 30 large vessels, the freezer longliner fleet is a major player in Alaska's groundfish industry. It targets predominantly Pacific cod.