NOAA announces 2014 charter and commercial halibut management measures
Sport caught halibut.
Photo by Josh Keaton/Courtesy of NOAA
NOAA Fisheries is providing notice of the immediate effect of regulations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The commercial IFQ halibut season opens at noon local time tomorrow in Alaska.
At its annual meeting in January, the IPHC recommended to the governments of Canada and the United States catch limits for 2014 totaling 27,515,000 pounds. The IPHC adopted area-specific catch limits for 2014 that were lower than 2013 in all of its management areas except Area 2C (Southeast Alaska). The halibut stock has been declining due to reduced recruitment, lower growth rates, and higher than target harvest rates, and is at risk of further declines. Conservation of the halibut resource will best serve the economic interests of both the charter and commercial fisheries over the long term.
In 2014, advised by the Catch Sharing Plan recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the IPHC set combined charter and commercial catch limits for Areas 2C and 3A (Southcentral Alaska). Voluntary annual transfers of commercial halibut individual fishing quota to charter halibut permit holders in Areas 2C and 3A will be available as “guided angler fish” for additional harvest opportunities in the charter fishery.
In Area 2C (Southeast Alaska):
* Commercial catch limit (after deducting wastage): 3,318,720 pounds
* Charter fishery one-fish daily bag limit with a “reverse slot limit.” Charter anglers may only keep a halibut that is less than 44 inches or greater than 76 inches in length.
* If halibut are filleted at sea, the carcass must be retained onboard until landing.
In Area 3A (Southcentral Alaska):
* Commercial catch limit (after deducting wastage): 7,317,730 pounds
* Charter fishery two-fish daily bag limit: one any size / one less than or equal to 29 inches total length
* Trip limit for charter vessels: vessels are limited to one charter halibut fishing trip in which halibut are retained per calendar day (if no halibut retained, vessel may take an additional trip to catch and retain halibut that day). Applies to vessels only, not charter halibut permits.
* If halibut are filleted at sea, the carcass of the halibut that is less than or equal to 29 inches must be retained onboard until landing.
Halibut operators must also observe other new regulations implemented this year under the CSP.
Unguided halibut fishers in Alaska will observe a daily bag limit of 2 fish any size per person per day.
The final rule to implement the management measures is in effect upon filing in the Federal Register, which happened today. The commercial fishery season dates are March 8 through November 7, 2014, for all areas in Alaska.
For more information, visit NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional website: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/
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