The status of the Pacific halibut stock is highlighted today/Tuesday and the latest data show some encouraging signs.

The interim meeting of the International Pacific Halibut runs through Wednesday/Dec 1 and includes recaps of this year’s fishery and results of the summer setline survey of nearly 2,000 stations from California to the Bering Sea.

Between five and seven skates of baited gear are set at each station and the modelled survey results showed coastwide combined numbers per setline increased by 17% from 2020 to 2021, reversing declines over the past four years.

The coast wide weights of legal sized halibut over 32 inches also increased by 4%. Scientists said the trend indicates recruitment of younger fish are contributing to the stock, especially from a 2012 year class.

They added: “This translates to a lower probability of stock decline for 2022 than in recent assessments.

Three halibut regulation change proposals are on the agenda:  two target bottom trawling and one requests a change in rules for non-resident halibut anglers in Southeast Alaska.

Pacific halibut takes by all users for this year are nearing 38 million pounds through November 1 out of a 39 million pound coast wide catch limit.

Alaska’s commercial catch was over 18.5 million pounds of which 92% has been landed so far. Total recreational catches are estimated at 7.6 million pounds, up by 43% from 2020. Halibut bycatch for this year is pegged at 3.5 million pounds, down 23% from 2020.

The Pacific halibut fishery this year runs through December 7.

Register to tune into the IPHC interim meetings Tuesday and Wednesday online. Final decisions will be made at the IPHC annual meeting January 24-28 in Bellevue, WA.