In his August 27 letter to the commissioners, IPHC Executive Director David T. Wilson wrote that information concerning the meeting, including electronic versions of documents to be considered would be published on the IPHC website as they become available, but no later than Oct. 26, which is 30 days prior to the start of the session, in accordance with the commission’s rules of procedure.
The IPHC website currently provides a link to an independent, 31-page peer review of the stock assessment, conducted by Kevin Stokes.
The last full stock assessment of Pacific halibut occurred in 2015. Updates were made in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The in-development stock assessment currently being reviewed is the first waypoint of the process, Stokes noted.
His review covers the full spectrum of stock assessment related matters, guided by terms of reference set out by the IPHC. The commission currently operates an extensive annual fishery-independent setline survey to provide the stock assessment with critical information on Pacific halibut abundance and distribution, as well as biological data. Exploratory work to improve that survey has been in progress since 2014 and should come to fruition in late 2019 or early 2020 to inform the 2020 design, Stokes said. The survey itself is considered critical for providing information on fish that will enter the fishery three or four years later.
Stokes also noted in the review that the IPHC is conducting a management strategy evaluation likely to result in adoption of rules for setting mortalities in 2021. Once implemented, it could potentially remove the need for annual stock assessment updates.
Stokes’ assessment document can be found at https://www.iphc.int/uploads/pdf/sa/2019/stokes_2019-independent_peer_review_for_the_2019_iphc_stock_assessment.pdf.
The provisional agenda and schedule for the 95th session interim meeting is posted online at https://iphc.int/uploads/pdf/cir/2019/iphc-2019-cr-017.pdf, along with a list of documents for review and discussion at the meeting.
The 96th session of the IPHC annual meeting is scheduled for Feb. 3-7 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska.