NOAA announces 2012 charter and commercial halibut management measures
New rule provides anglers in Southeast Alaska with an opportunity to retain a “trophy” fish
Juneau, AK — NOAA Fisheries Service today announced it is putting into effect the regulatory recommendations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The final rule was delivered to the Office of the Federal Register today. Alaska’s commercial halibut season opens tomorrow at noon.
For charter anglers in Area 2C (Southeast Alaska), a one fish per person, per day bag limit, which has been in effect for Southeast Alaska since 2009, remains in effect through the 2012 season.
Area 2C management measures also include a new “reverse slot limit” rule that limits the size of retained halibut to less than or equal to 45 inches, or greater than or equal to 68 inches in length. This new rule provides anglers with an opportunity to retain a “trophy” fish – a halibut larger than 68 inches – which is an important component of many charter business plans in Area 2C.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended a reverse slot limit to IPHC commissioners based on input from its Charter Implementation Committee and charter fishery participants. The purpose of the reverse slot limit is to make sure that total harvests in Area 2C charter fisheries are kept within the guideline harvest level (GHL) of 931,000 pounds in 2012, per the IPHC recommendation.
For Area 3A (Central Alaska), charter anglers will operate under the same measures as last year, with a two fish any size per person per day bag limit.
Unguided halibut fishers in Alaska will observe a daily bag limit of two fish of any size per person per day.
NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region continues to move forward with a Catch Sharing Plan for Areas 2C and 3A. In Areas 2C and 3A, a GHL has been the core management tool since 2003. However, the Council adopted a Catch Sharing Plan to replace the GHL. The Catch Sharing Plan would establish management measures designed to prevent overharvesting of the halibut resource and result in a sustainable fishery. NOAA Fisheries is currently working with the Council to address public comments on the proposed rule for the Catch Sharing Plan, and is seeking Council advice on how to proceed with agency review of the plan for Areas 2C and 3A.
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