IPHC to Set 2017 Catch Limits Jan. 23-27 in Victoria, BC

Halibut catch limits for 2017 will be set during the Jan. 23-27 annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission in Victoria, British Columbia.

Among the proposals to be considered by the IPHC is one from several fishing associations and processors, who contend that reductions in Area 2C catch limits are not justified by current data or trends.

Until the commission identifies an appropriate spawning potential ratio for the halibut stock, catch limit adjustments in Area 2 should not be made at the expense of catch limits in other IPHC areas, they said.

In setting the 2017 catch limit recommendations, they said, the IPHC commissioners should recognize that Area 2 stocks are increasing at current harvest rates, and Area 2C survey weight per unit of effort is higher than any other IPHC area coast-wide.

The proposal was signed by Kathy Hansen, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance; Megan O’Neil, Petersburg Vessel Owner’s Association; Dale Kelley, Alaska Trollers Association; Dan Falvey, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association; Joe Morelli, Seafood Producers Cooperative; Don Spigelmyer, Icicle Seafoods; and Mike Erickson, Alaska Glacier Seafoods.

The group noted that during its 2013 annual meeting the IPHC initiated a management strategy evaluation process and established a management strategy advisory body to re-evaluate the harvest policy and apportionment scenarios.

Critical elements of the management strategy evaluation process, the proposal noted, include developing guidelines and ranges for overall stock removals that account for total removals, size when harvested, and uncertainty on future stock yield ( a spawning potential ratio harvest policy); reconciling area specific harvest rates with local productivity, and better aligning apportionment with fishery and survey weight per unit of effort trends.

The proposal also recommended that the IPHC consider fishery weight per unit of effort and number of fish per unit of effort trends in addition to survey data when setting 2017 area specific catch limits. Areas with increasing indices should not be subject to apportionment reductions until a fully revised harvest policy is approved, they recommended.