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2021 Commercial Halibut Season Is Set to Open

June 15, 2021

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement will conduct patrols during the upcoming commercial halibut fishing season.

worker sorting halibut from commercial fishing vessel

The first 3-day commercial halibut fishing season of 2021 in federal waters off the West Coast begins next week. It starts on Tuesday, June 22 at 8 a.m. and ends on Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement will be conducting patrols throughout the season along with our partners. 

Patrols will focus on ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations governing commercial halibut fishing. These include:

  • Proper marking of fishing gear
  • Permitting and vessel documentation
  • Minimum size and possession restrictions

All setline or skate marker buoys carried on board or used by any U.S. vessel for halibut fishing must be marked with either the vessel’s state license number or registration number. The markings must be in legible characters at least 4 inches high and one-half inch wide in a contrasting color visible above the water.

Learn more about commercial halibut fishing regulations

Our partners in these patrols include:

  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police
  • Oregon State Police
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Protecting Seabirds

In addition to the rules and regulations above, groundfish long-line vessels are now required to deploy seabird avoidance gear when fishing for Pacific halibut. This regulation only applies to vessels landing groundfish along with halibut. Streamer lines are the most common form of seabird avoidance gear and are used to prevent bird attacks on baited hooks.

Learn more about seabird regulations

Properly Releasing Halibut

Halibut that are not retained must be released outboard of the roller and returned to the water with a minimum of injury using one of these three methods:

  • Straightening the hook 
  • Cutting the gangion near the hook
  • Removing the hook with a gaff by carefully twisting it from the halibut

These safe release measures promote the survival of released halibut and help to support a sustainable fishery

Last updated by Office of Law Enforcement on June 15, 2021