Halibut catch limits for this year will be revealed on January 29, the final day of the International Pacific Halibut Meetings that will convene virtually starting on January 25.
IPHC staff also will, among other things, give updates on the status of the Pacific halibut stock.
A preliminary review of the 2020 fishery shows that the total catch for the U.S. and British Columbia topped 35.7 million pounds, down 11 percent from 2019.
Of that, 63 percent was taken in commercial fisheries, or 22.3 million pounds. Alaska fishermen took nearly 16 million pounds, seven percent below the catch limit.
Recreational fisheries took 17 percent of the total at six million pounds, 3 percent went to both subsistence and research, or one million pounds for each.
Over 5 million pounds of halibut was taken as bycatch in other fisheries.
Homer got the biggest chunk of the halibut landings – 18 percent, or nearly 3 million pounds.
Dutch Harbor came in second for landings at nearly 2 million pounds, or 12 percent, followed by Kodiak at 1.7 million pounds for 11 percent.
Juneau at 1.3 million pounds outpaced Sitka at 1.1 million pounds of the total halibut landings.
On a related note: a study will soon be underway on Canada’s east coast to determine if throwing back big fish will help boost the Atlantic halibut stock. The biggest halibut are usually the breeders.
The CBC reports that Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Atlantic Halibut Council are collaborating on a $4.2 million study that starting this spring, will track 150 halibut that are outfitted with satellite tags and acoustic transmitters and followed for three years.
The study, which has the support of commercial fishermen, could result in a maximum size limit for Atlantic halibut.
The region’s halibut catch has increased six-fold since the late 1990s from nearly 1.9 million pounds to 12 million pounds in 2020. Much of that fresh fish has displaced Pacific halibut at east coast outlets.