Your chance to comment on halibut bycatch in trawl, hook & line fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment through Dec, 28 on Amendment 111, a proposed rule that would reduce prohibited species catch limits for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries.

Overall, the proposed rule would reduce halibut prohibits species catch in the BSAI groundfish fisheries from 4,426 metric tons (9.7 million pounds) to 3,515 metric tons (7.7 million pounds), or 21 percent.

The would include a 25 percent reduction for the Amendment 80 sector of non-pollock trawl catcher/processors to 1,745 metric tons (~4 million pounds), and a 15 percent reduction, down to 745 metric tons (164,000 pounds) , for the BSAI trawl limited access sector of all non-Amendment 80 trawl fishery participants.

Amendment 111 would also reduce the BSAI non-trawl sector, made up primarily of hook-and-line catcher/processors, by 15 percent, down to 710 metric tons (1.56 million pounds), and the community development quota program by 20 percent, to 315 metric tons (69,300 million pounds).

NOAA noted that in recent years commercial halibut fishery catch limits have declined due to declining halibut exploitable biomass. To that end the North Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended in June reducing the halibut bycatch limits in the BSAI groundfish fisheries.

This action is expected to provide additional harvest opportunity and revenue for the commercial halibut fishery in Area 4, which corresponds to the BSAI management area. it could also benefit the commercial , personal use, sport and subsistence fisheries there and elsewhere in Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest as halibut migrate southward, NOAA officials said.

Comments should be addressed to Glenn Merrill, assistant regional administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, and identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2015-0092.

Submit comments electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at or mail them to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.