Federal fisheries managers have approved a two-fish daily bag limit of halibut for clients of the charter boat industry in Southcentral Alaska, with one halibut of any size and a maximum size of one of the two fish being 28 inches. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council also set a one charter vessel fishing trip per day limit charter halibut permit per boat and a four-fish annual limit for clients, and closed Wednesday all year for the charter halibut fishery in area 3A. That fishery will continue to include a requirement to record retained halibut on the back of the license or harvest record card as an enforcement mechanism for the annual limit.
For Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, the council recommended a one fish per day bag limit. The council also recommended that if the allocation is above or below 0.81 million pounds to adjust the lower limit of the reverse slot limit up or down to keep the projected harvest within the allocation.
The council’s recommendations will now be given to the International Pacific Halibut Commission in advance of its January meeting.
The IPHC’s own 2017 fishery-independent setline survey in December 2017 showed that halibut stocks declined continuously from the late 1990s to around 2010 due to decreasing size-at-age, as well as somewhat weaker recruitment strengths than those observed in the 1980s. The 2018 fishery-independent setline survey showed a second consecutive year of decrease, down seven percent from 2017.