Tour group files lawsuit over observer program

A tour group company has filed a lawsuit over changes to the federal fisheries observer program.

Earlier this month, the Boat Company, which operates halibut charters, filed a lawsuit to force the National Marine Fisheries Service to come up with an entirely new program.

The new federal observer program begins Jan. 1 and calls for observers to be placed on boats shorter than 60 feet long and aboard commercial halibut vessels. Some fishermen say the smaller boats lack the space to hold an additional person. Small-boat fishermen also say the new program diverts attention away from trawlers, which catch most fish in Alaska waters.

Boat Company president Hunter McIntosh told the Kodiak Daily Mirror that without changes to the program, there won’t be any halibut industry left.