Commercial halibut fisheries from California to Alaska will operate from March 23 through Nov. 7 this year under new regulatory recommendations put into effect in mid-March by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
The final rule on the regulatory recommendations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission for commercial harvesters and charter halibut was published in the Federal Register in advance of the halibut season opener, which is about a week later than in 2012.
Guideline harvest levels for Area 2C, in Southeast Alaska, and Area 3A, in Southcentral Alaska, were to be revised in a second Federal Register notice.
For Area 2C, the new management measures call for charter anglers to continue to observe a “reverse slot limit” for the 2013 season.
For area 3A, charter anglers will operate under the same measures as last year, with a two fish of any size per person daily bag limit.
Unguided halibut fishers in Alaska have a daily bag limit of two fish of any size per person per day.
Charter and commercial halibut fishers in Area 2A, including Washington state, Oregon and California, will adhere to the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan for 2013.
Under the Halibut Act, U.S. and Canadian members of the IPHC adopted recommended management measures for the 2013 halibut fishery at the commission’s annual meeting in January.
NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region meanwhile is continuing to develop a catch sharing plan for areas 2C and 3A, which was developed through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. NOAA officials said they expect the catch sharing plan to be in place for the 2014 season.
The US Coast Guard is reminding halibut and sablefish vessel owners to get their commercial fishing vessel safety exams before the season opens, and get their decal. “No decal means no observer; no observer means no fishing,” said Ken Lawrenson, commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator for the Coast Guard 17th District.
Fishermen are encouraged to log on to www.fishsafe.info and click on the link to the checklist generator. The application takes input on the fishing vessel, such as length, persons on board, where the vessel operates and more, and generates a list of requirements that apply to that specific fishing vessel.