Tag Archives: International Pacific Halibut Commission

International Pacific Halibut Commission to revisit minimum size limit

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut fisheries in U.S. and Canadian waters, is set to take a fresh look at the minimum size limit during its meeting cycle this winter. The current limit allows commercial fishermen to retain fish larger than 32 inches, but the size of mature halibut has been shrinking over the years, which has some wondering whether the limit should be reduced or removed altogether. click here to read the story 09:16

Commercial longline seasons to open March 11th, on time

Commercial longliners in Alaska can go fishing on March 11 after all. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Friday. March 3 that March 11th will be the start date for halibut and black cod fishing. March 11th is the halibut fishing start date approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission back in January. The National Marine Fisheries Service typically opens long-line fishing for black cod on the same day. President Trump issued an executive order in January requiring that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination. The start dates, catch share plan and other changes are all regulations that need to be published in the federal register. As of late last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service was still unsure of the impact of the presidential order on the fisheries. Fishermen in Alaska were questioning whether they’d be able to start fishing on that date. However, the federal agency confirmed Friday that the season would be starting on the 11th for both halibut and black cod. Read the rest here 08:52

International Pacific Halibut Commission approves increases in halibut catch limits

Most parts of the Pacific coastline will see an increase in commercial and charter fishing catch limits for halibut this year. The International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday approved a coast-wide catch limit of 31.4 million pounds of the valuable bottom fish. That’s an increase from just under 30 million pounds last year. Several parts of the coast were facing catch limit cuts based on alternatives presented by IPHC scientists. However, commissioners voted to boost harvest limits instead of making reductions. There was some disagreement about the BC catch limit this year. Listen to the audio report or read it here 19:11

The International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting is underway in BC

The International Pacific Halibut Commission will be deciding on catch limits, other proposed changes to management and season length though Friday in Victoria, British Columbia. “The way we apportion the resource it’s been probably the subject of the most dissatisfaction on the U.S. side over the past couple of years,” said U.S. commissioner and vice-chair Jim Balsiger at the start of the meeting Monday. “All the commissioners I believe on both sides are anxious to come to grips with that, find a harvest policy and apportionment method that works for everybody that we can explain to the people who use the resource and make some progress on that.”  Read the story here  For agenda details of the meeting and link to the webinar, click here 10:40

2017 IPHC Annual Meeting Monday, January 23 through Friday, January 27, 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia

The Ninety-third Annual Meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission will be held from Monday, January 23 through Friday, January 27, 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia at the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort. Further details on the 2017 IPHC Annual Meeting

Documents, Presentations, and Schedule

In advance of its annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Jan. 23-27, IPHC posts catch limit proposals

In advance of its annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, Jan. 23-27, the International Pacific Halibut Commission accepted proposals through Dec. 31 on catch limits or harvest advice. Of the eight proposals noted so far by the IPHC, six were specific to Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, including one from a group of processors and fishing associations who contend that reductions in Area 2C catch limits are not justified by current data or trends. Area 2C stocks are increasing at current harvest rates, and the Area 2C survey weight per unit of effort is higher than any other IPHC area coast-wide, the proposal said.  The document was signed by Kathy Hansen, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance; Megan O’Neil, Petersburg Vessel Owner’s Association; Dale Kelley, Alaska Trollers Association; Dan Falvey, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Joe Morrelli, Seafood Producers Cooperative; Don Spigelmyer, Icicle Seafoods; and Mike Erickson, Alaska Glacier Seafoods. Read the rest here 09:40

Southeast halibut catch limit may drop in 2017

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is considering a cut of 870,000 pounds to Southeast Alaska’s 2017 halibut quota. The IPHC, the joint Canadian-American body that sets annual halibut harvests, concluded its interim meeting Nov. 30 in Seattle. The IPHC will set the 2017 quota at its 93rd annual meeting from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27 in Victoria, B.C. During the interim meeting, IPHC staff recommended that the entire North Pacific halibut catch be reduced from 29.89 million pounds to 26.12 million pounds. Most of the reduction would fall in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Alaska and in Pacific Canada. Read the story here 09:50

Halibut stock stable, flat harvest likely

halibutquotaStocks have stabilized and bycatch is as low as it’s been since 1960, however the halibut quota for next year will edge down after being raised for the first time in years in 2016. The International Pacific Halibut Commission held its interim meeting in Seattle Nov. 29-30 to review the 2016 catch, status of the stock, and to recommend how much halibut fishermen will be able to take in 2017. Overall, biologists and managers gave a view of a responsible group of users responding well to a trough in the historical ups and downs of halibut abundance, which has flattened after a decade of downward movement. IPHC biologist Dr. Ian Stewart painted a more secure picture of halibut than the last two years have seen, emphasizing decreased bycatch and a firm outlook for abundance. “I think it’s pretty clear that we’ve seen the stock stabilize,” Stewart said. Read the story here 15:42

Prices for commercial halibut shares reach jaw-dropping level

homer-spit-30As Alaska’s iconic halibut fishery wraps up this week, stakeholders are holding their breath to learn if the catch limit might ratchet up slightly once again in 2017. Meanwhile, prices for hard-to-get shares of the halibut catch are jaw-dropping. The halibut fishery ends Monday for nearly 2,000 longliners who hold halibut IFQs (Individual Fishing Quotas). The Alaska fishery will produce a catch of more than 20 million pounds if the fleet reaches its limit. Last year, the halibut haul was worth nearly $110 million at the Alaska docks. For the first time in several decades, the coast-wide Pacific halibut harvest numbers increased this year by 2.3 percent to nearly 30 million pounds. Along with Alaska, the eight-month fishery includes the Pacific Coast states and British Columbia. Read the story here 09:07

Following his exit from the IPHC, Kauffman calls violation ‘honest mistake’

IPHC flagAn executive from a Community Development Quota group blamed a regulatory mix-up for the fishing violation that forced him to resign from the international commission regulating halibut harvests. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement charged Jeff Kauffman and two other men in March with possessing more than 10,000 pounds of halibut over their combined quota limits for a violation that occurred in June 2012. Kauffman is the vice president of the Central Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, the Community Development Quota group for the island of St. Paul. He resigned on June 22. The joint U.S.-Canadian body has governed halibut quotas and regulations by international treaty since 1923, and has three commissioners each from the U.S. and Canada. Kauffman chalked the violation up to a regulatory mix-up. The violation occurred around June 5, 2012, while Kauffman fished for halibut around St. Paul with Mike Baldwin and Wade Henley, the captain of the F/V Saint Peter. CBSFA owns 100 percent of the vessel. Read the story here 14:49

Alaska IPHC board member fined $49K for fishing violation, resigns

IPHC flagJeff Kauffman resigned as the Alaska resident member of the International Pacific Halibut Commission on June 22, shortly after he and two fellow fishermen agreed to a $49,000 fine for harvesting more than 10,000 pounds of halibut over their combined quota limit in June 2012. The settlement the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement agreed to was nearly $13,000 less than the original Notice of Violation and Assessment of $61,781 issued on March 1 of this year. Kauffman, who is the vice president of the Central Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, or CBSFA, and a member of the Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, did not respond to a request for comment. Interesting article that should raise some questions regarding conflicting relationships. Read the story here 08:40

Alaska commercial halibut quota goes up for first time in 15 years

wrangellAlaska halibut stocks are showing signs of an uptick, and for the first time in 15 years, commercial fishermen’s catches will not be slashed this year. Fishery managers on Friday set the coastwide Pacific halibut harvest at 29.89 million pounds, a . Because halibut paid more than $6 a pound at the docks last year, even a small increase can be lucrative. Bowen said it could push the price for halibut quota share to $60 a pound in major fishing region. That equates to $90,000 for a small lot of 1,500 pounds. Read the article here 08:14

Halibut commission boosts coast-wide catch limit

pacific_halibutThe International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday approved an increase in halibut catch limits for most of the coast. The joint U.S. and Canadian body oversees management of the prized bottom fish from California to Alaska. The commission held its annual meeting in Juneau last week. Commissioners approved a coast-wide catch of just under 30 million pounds for 2016. That’s an increase of two point two percent from last year’s limits. Commissioner chair Jim Balsiger of Juneau said the decisions were not easy to make. Read the post here 09:59

International Pacific Halibut Commission tackles catch limits in Juneau meeting

alaska-halibut__frontThe commission manages fishing and research on the valuable bottom fish from Alaska to California. IPHC scientist Ian Stewart this week presented some more optimistic news on the status of halibut. “The bottom line for this year is that we can see some positive trends both in the data and in the stock assessment models,” Stewart said. “The stock appears to be stabilizing at a coast-wide level and the more years that we’ve see this play out, the more certain we become of that.” Read the article here 12:35

User conflicts over halibut, salmon on horizon for 2016

pacific_halibutThe year about to end saw the beginnings of some fisheries regulations and legal battles that will either resolve or present further issues in 2016. Halibut has dominated the federal fisheries agenda for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees the Exclusive Economic Zone from 3 to 200 miles off the coast. Shrinking halibut stocks and dual management have collided to produce a fishery bitterly divided among bycatch users, directed users, and charter anglers struggling to make ends meet with fewer legally harvestable fish. Read the article here 16:04

YEAR IN REVIEW: Federal agenda dominated by halibut bycatch concerns

Halibut dominated the federal fisheries process in 2015, with each sector fighting over reduced allocations. Directed halibut fishermen in the North Pacific have watched their quotas drop while the trawl industry prosecuting Bering Sea groundfish has had a relatively static bycatch limit for 20 years. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council governs bycatch while the International Pacific Halibut Commission governs directed removals, and the two have not coordinated on the decline in harvestable halibut biomass. Read the article here 08:38

International Pacific Halibut Commission weighs 2016 harvest recommendations

pacific_halibutThe interim meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission is our first look at the huge volume of data the collects that informs a big decision coming next January: How much halibut will be available for harvest from the coast of Oregon to the Bering Sea. For halibut users in Southeast Alaska, the number could be ticking up — maybe 8-percent, or by over 300,000 pounds. In Southcentral Alaska, though, the trend is the other direction — the commercial and sport fleets may see their harvests reduced by 7-percent, or three-quarters of a million pounds. Read the article here 14:05

IPHC staff reflect on 2015 season, decisions, with Joe Viechnicki

pacific_halibutA little over a month from now, the International Pacific Halibut Commission will meet to start considering catch limits for next season. IPHC executive director Bruce Leaman and visited Petersburg this week and met with commercial fishermen. Joe Viechnicki sat down with the two and asked Stewart about what he’s heard about this past season. IPHC staff will be presenting preliminary numbers for next year’s catch to the commission at an interim meeting in Seattle December 1st and 2nd. Audio here, duration: 11:37 14:31

“State of Our Halibut” discussed at last weekend’s inaugural Homer Halibut Festival – It’s not good.

From a fun run to a fish fry to a halibut cabaret, most of the weekend was a celebration of Homer’s iconic resource. But much of the discussion at Saturday’s “State of Our Halibut” lecture series at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center was serious and centered around a major issue: the total mass of Pacific halibut is shrinking and no one is entirely sure why or what to do about it. That’s not entirely new information. Nearly ever year of the past decade, the annual survey reported decreases in both Pacific halibut population and biomass,,, Read the rest here 09:15

NOAA Seeks Letters of Public Support for International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) Nominees

NOAA Fisheries is seeking letters of public support for nominees (listed below) for two presidential appointments to serve as U.S. Commissioners to the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The IPHC is a bilateral regional fishery management organization established between Canada and the United States for the management of the Pacific halibut fishery. Terms expire for the current commissioners December 31, 2015. Commissioners are eligible for reappointment. Of the two appointees, one must be a resident of Alaska and the other shall be a nonresident of Alaska. Read the rest here 16:48

Halibut bycatch cap reduction should reflect what we know about the resource

pacific_halibutAs a fishery scientist who has worked for more than 20 years with trawl fishermen to reduce salmon, crab and halibut bycatch, I find the recent rhetoric around proposed North Pacific Fisheries Management Council changes to the cap very frustrating. In particular, I hear media campaigns underwritten by environmental NGOs claiming, “It’s been 20 years since the halibut bycatch cap was last reduced,” implying that this has created a conservation issue. Read the rest here 14:28

NMFS seeks nominations for U.S. seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission

National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking nominations to fill two non-NOAA commissioner seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Terms for the current commissioners—who are eligible for reappointment—expire on December 31, 2015.  One must be a resident of Alaska—currently held by Donald Lane from Homer, Alaska One must be a non-resident of Alaska—currently held by Robert Alverson of Washington State. Read the rest here 12:09

2015 charter and commercial halibut management measures announced

alaska-halibut__frontNMFS is providing notice of the immediate effect of regulations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The commercial IFQ halibut season opens Saturday, March 14, 2015. At its annual meeting in January, the IPHC recommended to the governments of Canada and the United States catch limits for 2015 totaling 29,223,000 pounds. Read the rest here 07:23

North Pacific Fishery Management Council adds 50% option for bycatch cut

In January, the alaska-halibut__front put a Band-Aid on a Bering Sea halibut situation that needs a blood transfusion from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Halibut fishermen earned a breather in 2015, with slightly raised allocations all around and a status quo 1.285 million pounds for the central Bering Sea quota holders, but the bulk of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s February meeting took a look at every way possible to get those numbers higher. Read the rest here   11:38

Following a decade of decline, halibut harvest will increase in 2015

alaska-halibut__frontIn 2004, the coastwide Pacific halibut catch limit was 76.5 million pounds. By 2014, that had been cut 64 percent to 27.5 million pounds. On Jan. 30, the commission, an international U.S.-Canadian body that governs directed halibut fisheries, set the quotas for commercial and charter halibut industries at 29.2 million pounds total coastwide catch, 22 million pounds of which goes to the Alaska waters. The 2015 harvest limit is 6 percent more than last year. Read the rest here 18:28

Alaska halibut fishermen granted quota increase

alaska-halibut__frontFishermen in Alaska will have access to slightly more halibut this year than last. The International Pacific Halibut Commission voted Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia, for a total catch in Alaska of 21.215 million pounds, up from 19.705 million pounds in 2014. That’s the first time in a decade the commission has increased the catch. Read the rest here 20:23

2015 IPHC Annual Meeting – Monday, January 26 through Friday, January 30, 2015 – Listen via Webinar

The Ninety-First Annual Meeting of the will be held from Monday, January 26 through Friday, January 30, 2015 at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia. This year’s meeting is scheduled to open on Monday with presentations on the fishery, the 2014 stock assessment, and the harvest decision table, and conclude on Friday with Commission approval of catch limits and regulations. All public sessions and administrative sessions will be open to the public. These open sessions will also be webcast. Read the rest here, webinar links. 17:30

Canada-U.S. delegates meet in B.C. to discuss halibut ‘wastage’ in Bering Sea

You might say it’s a story about the fish that didn’t get away. Fishermen in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska are tossing back millions of kilograms of dead halibut they’ve caught unintentionally while scooping up other stocks. The longtime practice, known as bycatch, has become the focus of intense scrutiny in Alaska and will be the subject of debate at a meeting at month’s end of the International Pacific Halibut Commission in Vancouver. Read the rest here 11:13

If we don’t protect Alaska halibut, there will be no fish to fight over

The halibut wars are on, folks, and I don’t mean the Domino’s Pizza ad slam from last year. There are a few silly voices trying to make the current arguments regarding halibut an allocation war. Sadly, they are wrong. It’s way past allocation, folks, and now its a fight for preservation and sustainability. Areas of the Bering Sea have not been managed to sustain halibut — specifically Area 4CDE. Read the rest here 13:31

Updates for upcoming halibut commission meeting – tension mounts

The stage is set for some tension when halibut managers and stakeholders gather later this month in Vancouver.  Only one catch limit comment was submitted by the December 31 deadline.  To reduce handling and wastage in the fishery, the Seattle-based Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association is asking the IPHC to reduce the minimum size requirement for commercially caught halibut from 32 to 30 inches. Read the rest here  18:51