Fish Radio

Halibut updates for upcoming IPHC meeting

January 8, 2015

Alaska halibut regions Credit: IPHC

Alaska halibut regions
Credit: IPHC


This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Updates on the upcoming halibut commission meeting. More after this –

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The stage is set for some tension when halibut managers and stakeholders gather later this month in Vancouver. At its annual meeting, the International Pacific Halibut Commission will set catch limits, season start and end dates and take up various regulation proposals.

Only one catch limit comment was submitted by the December 31 deadline.  To reduce handling and wastage in the fishery, the Seattle-based Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association is asking the IPHC to reduce the minimum size requirement for commercially caught halibut from 32 to 30 inches. The group claims that, based on observer data, a two inch size reduction could reduce handling by 58% and wastages from 1.35 million pounds to .58 million pounds.

There are two regulation proposals for consideration – one would set a maximum size limit for halibut in both commercial and sport sectors.   The reason:  Protecting the larger fish, which are the breeders, would help the stocks replenish at a faster pace.  A second halibut charter proposal suggests retaining a first 29” or less halibut in the Central Gulf to decrease throwbacks of injured fish.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room will be halibut bycatch and driving the tension is a perverse situation in the Bering Sea.  The IPHC doesn’t set bycatch levels, that falls to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The Council allotted six million pounds of halibut as bycatch to Seattle-based trawlers in the Bering Sea flatfish fisheries, leaving just 370,000 pounds for small boat halibut fishermen at the Pribilofs, a 70% reduction.  They are appealing to NOAA Fisheries to intervene.

The IPHC meets Jan. 26-30 in downtown Vancouver. All of the halibut meetings will be streamed on the web.  Find links at

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.