Halibut 2016 catch recommendations down for all but two AK areas
December 3, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — Some encouraging news for halibut stocks but don’t look for a big boost in catches. More after this —
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Halibut catches for next year could be down slightly – IF managers accept the recommendations by halibut scientists, which they don’t always do.
At the International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting this week, the total catch, meaning for the West Coast, British Columbia and Alaska, was recommended at 26.56 million pounds, a drop of nearly 2.7 million pounds from this year.
For Alaska, the total would be 20.32 million pounds, down less than one million. Halibut catches for all but two Alaska regions would decrease slightly, with 3B, the Western Gulf, and area 4CDE in the Bering Sea seeing slight increases.
There were encouraging signs for the Pacific halibut stocks after more than a decade of declines. Ian Stewart is an IPHC scientist:
Both the data and the models indicate the stock is relatively stable. We are seeing some positive trends in some of the catch rate information. Generally what we have seen is the yields we have been taking out of the stock over the past five years appear to be pretty consistent with the amount of production available from the stock. We are getting a flat trend, so what we are taking out must not be too far in excess of what is available to be taken out and maintain roughly the same biomass level.
Other good news shows that female halibut appear to be shifting towards higher weights. A 16 year old fish today averages 20 pounds, compared to 50 pounds in 1975.
Also, halibut bycatch by Bering Sea trawlers and freezer longliners dropped this year by more than one million pounds, but still pushing 8 million pounds.
In other halibut news, Jeff Kauffman, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla was chosen for a Halibut Commission seat, replacing Don Lane of Homer.
Final decisions on halibut catches, season start and end dates, and regulation changes will be made by at the IPHC annual meeting in late January in Juneau.
Find halibut charts and links at our website – www.alaskafishadio.com
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.