Charter Halibut Management to be Addressed at NPFMC Meeting

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) will take final action on recommendations to the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) on charter halibut management in the coming year for Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.

During its Dec. 4 meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, the council will consider the advice of the Charter Halibut Management Committee, which meets on Dec. 3, as well as analysis by Sarah Webster of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Sport Fish on potential management measures to keep the charter sector within their allocation.

The committee requested analysis for area 3A with regards to the following regulations: a two-fish bag limit, 28-inch maximum size limit per fish, four-fish annual limit, one vessel-trip per permit per day, Wednesday charter halibut closure and closure of halibut fishing on six Tuesday from mid-July through mid-August.
For area 2C the analysis focused on a one-fish daily bag limit, retained halibut being less than or equal to 38 inches or greater than or equal to 80 inches in length requirement.

An action memo posted online in advance of the council meeting notes that between 2014 and 2018 area 2C charter fisheries have been over their allocation by as much as nine percent and below by as much as 10 percent, while in area 3A, charter fisheries have consistently been over their allocation by 11 to 16 percent, except for the 2018 preliminary estimate which shows only four percent over the allocation.

The IPHC’s own 2017 fishery-independent setline survey indicates that halibut stocks declined continuously from the late 1990s to around 2010 due to decreasing size-at-age, as well as somewhat weaker recruitment strengths than those observed in the 1980s. The 2018 survey shows a second consecutive year of decreased, down seven percent from 2017, with individual biological regions ranging from a six percent increase in region 4B to a 15 percent decrease in region 2.