NPFMC Approves Emergency Action on Halibut Issues

The federal fisheries managers have approved three emergency actions for Alaska’s halibut fisheries prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on May 15 approved allowing the transfer through the rest of this season for quota shares owed by halibut and sablefish IFQ holders, based on a request from 11 industry leaders.
The council also recommended that the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) modify bag limits and size restrictions for the halibut charter industry in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska, and that the IPHC remove vessel use cap rules for IFQ halibut harvested in Areas 4B, 4C and 4D for the remainder of the season.

The council approved the quota share transfers without making it specific to harvesters with certain underlying health conditions or over 60 years of age, all included in a group that federal medical officials have identified as being at higher risk to become infected with COVID-19.

The request for the quota share transfers for the rest of 2020 came in a letter signed by
Bob Alverson, general manager of the Fishing Vessel Owners Association; Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longliner Fishermen’s Association; Phillip Lestenkof, president of the Central Bering sea Fishermen’s Association; Luke Fanning, chief executive officer of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Association; Robert Wurm, president of the Kodiak Vessel Owners’ Association, and others.

The council recommended that the IPHC, which met today, May 20, approve maintaining the daily bag limit of one halibut in Southeast Alaska, plus a reverse slot limit with an upper limit of 80 inches and lower limit of 45 inches for the remainder of this season.

For Southcentral Alaska the council recommended to the IPHC a daily bag limit of two halibut, one of any size and a second halibut equal to or less than three inches, with no annual limit and no daily closures, plus one daily trip per halibut charter vessels and one trip per charter halibut permit.

The council took no action on a requested change in the allowed rollover cap, which is currently set at 10 percent, to 30 percent for 2020, 20 percent for 2021 and then back to 10 percent in 2022.

Details on the special meeting are available at
The Council plans to hold its June meeting virtually through Adobeconnect, and allow for public comment over the phone during the meeting. The intent is to use web cameras for council members and presenters during discussion and deliberation, council staff said.