Halibut catches set this week by IPHC

Fish Radio
January 14, 2014

Pacific halibut fisheries Credit: fishex.com

Pacific halibut fisheries
Credit: fishex.com

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Halibut catches will be decided this week.  More after this —   

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This year’s halibut catches, season start and end dates and much more will be decided this week at the Ninetieth Annual Meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission in Seattle.  


A coast wide catch of just under 25 million pounds is being recommended – that’s  a 21 percent

reduction from last year.  Alaska’s share of the catch would be 18.7 million pounds, down from about 22 million pounds in 2013. Halibut surveys show the that the Pacific halibut stock has been declining continuously over much of the last decade due to decreasing size-at-age.  Recruitment strengths also are much smaller than those observed through the 1980s and ‘90s.


 Also for review by the IPHC this week – 22 requests for an increased halibut catch to about half a million pounds in Area 4E, way out west in the Bering Sea. And in Area 4A, Gulf waters off Dutch Harbor,  a proposal by the North Pacific Council asks to   allow retention of halibut taken as bycatch in sablefish pot gear.


Another  asks for mandatory length requirements for all halibut sport charters.   A final proposal asks the Commission to begin accounting for halibut removals for fish under 32 inches, which it does not currently do.    

Also this week –  the Halibut Bycatch Work Group, which covers every gear group and region,   will present a report. The IPHC meeting will end on Friday with the approval of catch limits and regulations.  You can follow the meetings on your computer via webcasts.  


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  1. Judd Walker says:

    I would venture to state that the skate population needs to be reduced dramatically before any real improvement in halibut numbers will take hold. Same type of feeders, as we have cut a few open to find that they eat shellfish, crab and other crustaceans similar to larger halibut. And most of these skates are huge in size. They are competing for the same food source which likely explains why a mineral or vitamin deficiency is more the reason for the halibuts slower growth and reproduction. Also likely why chalk has become a problem.

    In my opinion there needs to be a 3-4 fold increase in skate quotas for 3-4 years and I’m rather sure the halibut numbers will rebound dramatically as skate numbers go down. Im catching skates in areas where 20 years ago there were none and now that is all that is left. I doubt P-cod and ling cod are as likely to be be culprits of this dramatic halibut decline. I think the next couple years the quota for skates should be in the 15 million pound range, just in 3A. See if that starts a rebound for halibut. If it does we have all learned something.

    Hard to imagine we can continually target one species without allowing a similar competitor to thrive. That is what is happening now. We need a market for skates even if it pays little, just to bring the halibut numbers back. None of us like to see any species just wasted. I hope someone can testify to this skate issue at the IPHC meetings this week.

    • I feel to believe that area 3a may be over fished and need to shave back on the quota, if it continues I feel to believe that the stocks may be in jeopardy if fished to heavily. we will find out this year.


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