Next month the researchers who oversee and set the catch limits for the Pacific halibut stock will reveal how the fishery could play out next year.
The interim meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission will take place Nov 25-26 in Seattle.
Nearly all of the documents related to the fishery are now posted including updates on the summer survey, minus stock assessments.
The Pacific halibut resource is modeled as a single stock and the annual survey is divided into 31 regions extending from Northern California to British Columbia and the far reaches of the Bering Sea.
Each region requires between 10 to 46 days to survey by fishing vessels chosen by a competitive bid process. For 2019, from June through August, 18 longliners participated in surveys of nearly 1,370 stations including an additional 89 stations in the Central Gulf of Alaska, Area 3A.
The survey boats used 407,000 pounds of chum salmon as bait and caught about 860,000 pounds of halibut during the summer survey.
Most of the vessel contracts receive a lump sum payment plus a 10 percent share of the halibut proceeds. Data show how much the halibut fetched at all ports, ranging from a low of $3.71 a pound at St. Paul to a high of $7.76 at Cordova.
The value of any bycatch of rockfish or cod that’s retained is split equally between the boat for handling expenses and state management agencies.
Halibut stock projections and potential catches through 2022 will be made public no later than November 22.
For 2019, contrary to all expectations and despite strong concerns of many, the commercial halibut catches were increased for all but the Western Gulf.
The total coastwide catch was boosted to nearly 25 million pounds, up six percent. Alaska’s share was just under 20 million pounds, a three million pound increase from 2018.
The final catch numbers will be revealed at the IPHC’s annual meeting set for Feb. 3-7 in Anchorage.
The 2019 halibut fishery opened on March 15 will wrap up on November 14.