Commercial Pacific Halibut Season Open

The harvest of Pacific halibut got under way this past week, with the US allocated an 82.3 percent share of the 2019 total catch of 29.4 million pounds. That represents 23.5 million pounds for American fishermen, an increase of 8.2 percent over last year.

That quota share was approved during the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) on February 1.

NOAA Fisheries Administrator Chris Oliver, a US commissioner to the IPHC, said that while the overall quota for 2019 is a slight increase over 2018 that catch limited agreed to by the IPHC “reflect a sensible, conservative approach that will secure the future of this iconic and economically important species.”

Alaska’s total halibut catch is set at 22 million pounds, up nearly 1.5 million pounds from 2018. That includes an increase in allocations to all areas except 3B, the western Gulf of Alaska.

The new IPHC regulations in effect for charter halibut operators in Alaska allow for a one fish daily bag limit per angler in Area 2C, Southeast Alaska, with a reverse slot limit that prohibits retention of any halibut greater than 38 inches and less than 80 inches.

In Southcentral Alaska, Area 3A, there is a two fish per angler bag limit, with a maximum size of 28 inches for one of those halibut, a one trip per day limit, and an annual limit of four halibut.

Unguided halibut sport anglers in Alaska meanwhile will continue to have a daily bag limit of two fish of any size per person each day.