January 30, 2017
More Pacific halibut will be going to market this year due to an overall boost in the harvests for the West Coast, British Columbia and Alaska. The coast wide catch of 31.4 million pounds reflects a 5.1 percent increase, and for the first time in decades, not a single fishing region got a cut in halibut catches.
The heartening news was released on Friday by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, overseer of the stocks since 1923.
Halibut catch limits are determined by summer surveys at more than 1,200 stations from Oregon to the Aleutians. For this year, the results showed the stock has remained stable over three years, although the fish remain small for their ages.
Alaska gets the lion’s share of the Pacific halibut catch – a 5.5 percent increase statewide adds up to 22.62 million pounds, or an extra million pounds for commercial and charter users (in 2C and 3A). Here is the breakdown in millions of pounds of halibut:
Southeast Alaska: 5.25m, a 6.1 percent increase
Central Gulf: 10m, a 4.2 percent increase
Western Gulf: 3.14m, a 15.9 percent increase
Aleutians regions remain flat at 1.39m and 1.14m
Bering Sea: 1.70m, a 2.4 percent increase
Bycatch of halibut continues to decline, the IPHC reported. The accidental take of halibut in other fisheries is now seven million pounds, the lowest level since 1960.
The halibut fishery is set to open on March 11 but may be delayed due to Donald Trump’s freeze on new and pending federal regulations. That includes the rules to operate the halibut and sablefish fisheries, which opens the same day. Both fisheries will end this year on November 7.
Find links to halibut and all of Alaska’s catches at www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook and Twitter.