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Every day, the main email inbox for Ketchikan Daily News receives a flood of unsolicited messages from a wide variety of organizations, businesses and individuals.
Many of these emails are political in nature. Some of these emails are from political parties, some are from letters-to-the-editor writers from across the country. Yet others are from think tanks and advocacy groups from all points of the political spectrum.
We don’t read through all of the messages closely — that would take more time than one has in a day. But every so often there’s something that catches the eye and gets a read-through.
Early this week, an email arrived from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. One of its bloggers, a Ryan Young, had an item titled "This Week in Ridiculous Regulations."
Well, that caught our attention. Ketchikan and the broader state of Alaska certainly have taken issue with questionable regulations over time. What wacky stuff got published in the Federal Register this time?
The CEI blogger got off to a fair start by giving statistics for the previous week — 39 new final regulations published, bringing the 2017 total up to 546 new regs. There were statistics for the number of pages of regulations published, and extrapolations regarding the expected number of new regulations and pages published if the current pace is maintained throughout the year.
The blogger concludes his piece by highlighting four of the final rules published this past week — each of which, given the title of the article, is presumably an example of "ridiculous" regulations.
One of those was "Sharing halibut."
Clicking that link brought up the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Federal Register publication of the 2017 regulations that will govern this season’s harvest of halibut in Alaska and the U.S. West Coast.
In other words, regulations that had been crafted through extensive processes involving the International Pacific Halibut Commission, North Pacific Fishery Management Council and Pacific Fishery Management Council. Regulations that result from coastwide assessments of halibut stocks and the setting of harvest limits based on those assessments. Regulations for allocating catches among user groups, based upon the council processes.
We know there are disagreements — often significant disagreements — about halibut stock assessments, catch limits and sector allocations. But the processes involved in developing those regulations have, over time, resulted in orderly fisheries and the reasonable assurance of maintaining healthy stocks of halibut along the coast of North America into the future.
Lumping the 2017 halibut catch rules into a category of "ridiculous" regulations is simply silly, and counterproductive to the writer’s goal. Better to do some research and locate some actual goofy regs to try to make the point, rather than slang the beneficial result of longstanding processes.
This small situation highlights an aspect of the national conversation regarding regulations. There are indeed a lot of regulations out there. Many of them overstep the bounds of reason to become undue burdens on citizens and businesses. However, not every regulation is a bad regulation. In the current national effort to roll back red tape, it’s worth taking the time to sort the good from the bad.