Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Interim Final Rule on Halibut Catch Implemented

An interim final rule for 2018 Pacific halibut catch limits published days before the fishery begins on March 24 lowers allowable catch by over 15 percent in Southeast Alaska and 16 percent in the Western Gulf of Alaska.

The interim final rule revised the catch sharing plan for commercial individual fishing quota and guided sport halibut fisheries in areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska), as well as the catch sharing plan for the commercial IFQ and Western Alaska Community Development Quota halibut fisheries in areas 4C, 4D and 4E.

The National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) noted that the action was necessary because the International Pacific Halibut Commission, during its annual January meeting, did not recommend new catch limits or specific catch sharing plan allocations and charter management measures for areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E for the current year.

The catch limit for Area 2C dropped 15.2 percent, from 5,250,000 pounds in 2017 to 4,450,000 pounds in 2018. In the Central Gulf of Alaska, the catch limit went from 10,000,000 pounds to 9,450,000 pounds a 5.5 percent reduction, while the Western Gulf of Alaska saw a 16.6 percent drop, passing from 3,140,000 pounds to 2,620,000 pounds.

For the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, the allocations are:

• for area 4A – 1,370,000 pounds, down 1.4 percent from 1,390,000 pounds

• for area 4B – 1,050,000 pounds, down 7.9 percent from 1,140,000 pounds

• for areas 4 CD and E – 1,580,000 pounds, down 7.1 percent from 1,700,000 pounds.

NMFS also set the guided sport catch limits at 810,000 pounds for Southeast Alaska and 1,790,000 pounds for the Central Gulf.

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