Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Halibut Quotas Increase

Halibut quotas are up overall by 2.3 percent in the poundage announced by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) at the conclusion of its meeting in Juneau early this week.

Alaska’s share added up to 21.45 million pounds, a boost of 200,000 pounds from 2015. The season runs from March 19 through Nov. 7.

The good news, said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka, “is the stocks seem to be stabilized or slightly increasing, and the outlook is a bit more positive. I’m happy to see the stocks are recovering, (although) it continues to be a bit of a concern,” she said.

Quotas announced by the IPHC included 9,600,000 pounds for Area 3A in the central Gulf of Alaska, including 7,786,000 pounds for the commercial fishery and 1,814,000 pounds for the guided sport fishery, a five percent cut. Area 2C, in Southeast Alaska, was accorded 3,924,000 pounds, an increase of six percent, with 906,000 pounds for the guided sport fishery. The IPHC also adopted catch-share plans for Areas 3A and 2C which impact how much and what size halibut customers on charter boats can keep.

Area 3B, the western Gulf of Alaska got an allocation of 2,710,000 pounds. Other Alaska allocations included 1,390,000 pounds for Area 4A, the eastern Aleutians, 1,140,000 pounds for Area 4B, the central and western Aleutians; and 1,660,000 pounds for Areas 4CDE, most of the Bering Sea. Area 2A, including California, Oregon and Washington State, received an allocation of 1,140,000 pounds, including non-treaty, treaty Indian ceremonial and subsistence and sport harvesters. Area 2B, British Columbia, was allocated 7.3 million pounds, up more than four percent over a year ago.

The commission expressed its thanks to IPHC executive director Bruce Leaman, who has been at the IPHC since 1997. David Wilson of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, takes on the tasks of executive director in August. Behnken praised Leaman’s years of work there, saying “He was a fantastic administrator.”

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