Sport Halibut Fishing in Alaska
Recreational fishing for Pacific halibut on charter boats (guided) or as unguided recreational fishermen in Alaska.
Halibut and salmon are the major sport fish species in Alaska; however, NOAA Fisheries regulatory authority of recreational fisheries in Alaska is limited to Pacific halibut. Although the Alaska Department of Fish and Game does not directly manage Alaska halibut fisheries, the agency has adopted some regulations that affect sport fishing for halibut.
Sport fishing regulations for Pacific halibut in Alaska are developed on the international, federal, and state levels by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), NOAA Fisheries, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Unguided Sport Halibut Fishing
- Regulation Summary (for unguided anglers throughout Alaska, including IPHC regulatory Areas 2C and 3A)
- Regulations for waters in and off Alaska are stated in the International Pacific Halibut Commission's annual management measures (See Sections 26. "Sport Fishing for Halibut—General" and 29. "Sport Fishing for Halibut" for season dates, gear and possession information, and bag limits for most areas)
Guided Sport Halibut Fishing
IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska)
Regulations for the guided sport (charter) halibut fishery in Alaska are determined annually by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the International Pacific Halibut Commission. NOAA Fisheries publishes these regulations each year as part of the IPHC Annual Management Measures.
- Summary of 2019 Regulations for 2C and 3A Charter Anglers (PDF, 2 pages)
- Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Revisions to Catch Sharing Plan and Domestic Management Measures in Alaska Proposed Rule: Mixing of guided and unguided halibut fishing on charter vessels.
- IPHC Annual Management Measures
IPHC Regulatory Areas 3B and 4A-E
For guided sport (charter) anglers in all IPHC regulatory areas except Areas 2C and 3A, the regulations are the same as for unguided sport anglers.
- Unguided Sport Fishing for Halibut in Alaska Regulation Summary (for unguided anglers in Areas 2C and 3A, and all anglers elsewhere)
Guided Angler Fish (GAF) Program
Effective January 13, 2014, the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) authorizes annual transfers of commercial halibut IFQ as guided angler fish (GAF) to charter halibut permit holders for harvest in the charter halibut fishery. GAF offers charter halibut permit holders in Area 2C or Area 3A an opportunity to lease a limited amount of IFQ from commercial quota share (QS) holders to allow charter clients to harvest halibut in addition to, or instead of, the halibut harvested under the daily bag limit for charter anglers. Charter anglers using GAF are subject to the harvest limits in place for unguided sport anglers in that area. Currently, there is a two-fish of any size daily bag limit for unguided sport anglers in Areas 2C and 3A. GAF harvested in the charter halibut fishery will be accounted for as commercial halibut IFQ harvest.
- GAF Frequently Asked Questions
- GAF Annual Reports
- Charter Halibut Permits
- Charter Halibut and GAF Transfer Application and Logs
- How to Submit a GAF Landing Report on eFISH
- IFQ to GAF Conversion Factor (PDF, 1 page)
Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan
The catch sharing plan replaced the Guideline Harvest Level program as of January 13, 2014, and defined an annual process for allocating halibut between the charter and commercial fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, and established allocations for each fishery. The commercial fishery is still managed under the Individual Fishing Quota system.
- Overview of the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan for Area 2C and Area 3A
- 50 CFR 300.65: Catch sharing plan and domestic management measures in waters in and off Alaska.
Charter Halibut Limited Access Program
The Charter Halibut Limited Access Program established new federal Charter Halibut Permits (CHPs) for operators in the charter halibut fishery in regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska). Since February 1, 2011, all charter halibut vessel operators in Areas 2C and 3A with clients onboard must have a valid CHP onboard during every charter vessel fishing trip.
- Frequently Asked Questions (Small Entity Compliance Guide)
- Charter Halibut Limited Access Program Implementation Report
- 50 CFR Part 300.67: Charter halibut limited access program regulations
- Historical Area 2C Information
Resources for Charter Halibut Permit Holders
- Applications and Forms
- Charter Halibut Permits and GAF Permits Issued
- Annual Reports
- Community Quota Entity Permits
- Summary of 2019 Regulations for 2C and 3A Charter Anglers (PDF)
- Regulation Summary (for unguided anglers in Areas 2C and 3A, and all anglers elsewhere)
- 50 CFR 300, Subpart E - Pacific Halibut Fisheries
- Federal Register Rules and Notices
- Regulations, Acts, Treaties, and Agreements for Federal Fisheries in Alaska
- ADF&G Charter and Non-Charter Halibut Harvest Estimates: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
- Analyses of sport halibut management actions
- ADF&G sport fishing regulations
- NPFMC charter halibut information
- Sport Fishing in Alaska
- Federal Fisheries in Alaska