NOAA Fisheries has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to create a permitting system for the Pacific halibut commercial and recreational charter halibut fisheries in International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 2A offshore of Washington Oregon and California.
The action would also establish a regulatory framework for the Area 2A Pacific halibut directed commercial fishery that allows the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine each year dates and times the fishery is open and set harvest limits for those periods of time.
The IPHC currently handles permitting and management activities for area 2A. Under the proposed action, NMFS would assume responsibility for issuing vessels permits to fish for Pacific halibut in commercial and recreational charter fisheries in Area 2A, and for issuing annual management measures or the directed commercial fishery. These actions would be in addition to those already handled by NMFS, such as issuing annual management measures for the Area 2A recreational fisheries.
The fishing season for the directed commercial fishery typically operates from late June through August, with fishing periods every other week until the Area 2 directed commercial fishery allocation has been or is projected to be reached.
Over the past six years, all but one year had three fishing periods. In 2020, there were five fishing periods.
In determining fishing period limits, NMFS would consider the directed commercial allocation, vessel class, number of fishery permit applicants and projected number of participants per vessel class the average catch of vessels compared to past fishing period limits, and other relevant factors.
Comments on the proposed plan are being accepted through Aug. 25, electronically via the federal e-rulemaking portal, www.regulations.gov, or by mail to Scott Rumsey, c/o Kathryn Blair, West Coast Region NMFS, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232.