Halibut Bycatch Reduced for First Time in Over 20 Years
Fishery Managers Lower Halibut Bycatch Limit in Gulf of Alaska
Kodiak, AK- Federal fishery managers took important action today to protect the health of the halibut population in the Gulf of Alaska. Members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Council) voted to reduce bycatch of halibut in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries by 15%. The bycatch cap of the hook and line fleet was also reduced.
“This action will help protect the health of the halibut population and the jobs of thousands of commercial and charter halibut fishermen in our coastal communities who rely on halibut,“ said Theresa Peterson, fisherman and Kodiak Outreach Coordinator for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
Halibut are caught incidentally by the millions in groundfish fisheries, especially trawl fisheries, that are pursuing species such as arrowtooth flounder, yellowfin sole and Pacific cod. The halibut caught are often dead and are required by law to be discarded back into the ocean. The trim in bycatch is taken off the top of the currently allowable cap of about 5 million pounds and will be effective in 2014.
“On behalf of our organization and the over 1500 sport, commercial, subsistence harvesters and other halibut users across Alaska who called for reducing waste, we thank the Council for taking meaningful action to protect our halibut resource “ said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.
Science by the International Pacific Halibut Commission has shown that reducing bycatch is important to the short and long-term health of the halibut population. The Council’s action to curtail bycatch will contribute to rebuilding halibut population in the Gulf of Alaska.
“We applaud the Council for taking this important first step and we look forward to the future action by fishery managers to further limit bycatch for the long-term health of the halibut resource,” said Peterson.