The first three-day commercial halibut fishing season of 2021 got underway in federal waters off the West Coast on Tuesday, June 22 and will run through Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m.
NOAA Fisheries said it will conduct patrols throughout the short season along with its partners, with a focus on ensuring compliance with rules and regulations governing the fishery, including proper marking of fishing gear, permitting and vessel documentation and adhering to minimum size and possession restrictions.
All setline or skate marker buoys on board or used by U.S. vessels for halibut fishing must be marked with either the vessel’s state license number or registration number. These markings must be legible characters at least four inches high and one0half inch wide in a contrasting color visible above water.
Groundfish long liners participating in the fishery are also required to deploy seabird avoidance gear. This regulation only applies to vessels landing groundfish along with halibut. Streamer lines are the most common form of seabird avoidance gear and are used to prevent bird attacks on baited hooks.
Halibut that are not retained must be released outboard of the roller and returned to the water with minimum of injury. Harvesters may do this by straightening the hook, cutting the gangion near the hook, or removing the hook with a gaff by carefully twisting it from the halibut.
NOAA officials said that these release measure promote the survival of released halibut and help to support a sustainable fishery.
NOAA is partnering with the Coast Guard, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police, Oregon State Police and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.