The International Pacific Halibut Commission planned a webcast for today (Nov 30) to announce stock assessments and the IPHC staff preliminary recommended catch limits for halibut in 2012. Final action on catch limits will be made at the IPHC annual meeting in Anchorage Jan 24-27. This announcement, the IPHC notes, will impact both the commercial and charter sectors.
The Halibut Coalition, whose broad membership base includes more than a dozen fisheries associations, is planning a webcast of its own on IPHC research on Dec. 1. To sign up, follow the instructions given online at http://halibutcoalition.org/.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, at its December meeting next week in Anchorage, will be discussing and taking some action on the catch sharing plan and providing guidance to the IPHC for 2012.
The federal council is scheduled to hear the IPHC report on 2012 staff recommendations, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game report on 2010-2011 sport catch estimates, and logbook versus statewide harvest survey comparison. The council will also review the charter halibut committee report on revising the catch sharing plan tier 1 management measures and review the National Marine Fisheries Service report on catch sharing plan deficiencies and provide council direction.
Veteran halibut harvester Linda Behnken of Sitka, a spokesperson for the Halibut Coalition, noted that it’s all conjecture until the IPHC announces its annual limits.
If abundance is down, the commercial catch will be reduced more, and if abundance drops by a couple million more pounds, that will trigger a 15 percent reduction in the guideline harvest level for the charter fleet.