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2022 Commercial Halibut Season Is Set to Open

June 13, 2022

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 2022 in federal waters off the West Coast begins next week. It starts on Tuesday, June 28 at 8 a.m. and ends on Thursday, June 30 at 6 p.m. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, along with our partners, will be out on the water and at the docks, conducting patrols throughout the season. 

Our partners include:

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

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

Protecting Seabirds

Fishermen, scientists, and policy makers have worked hard to prevent inadvertent death of migratory 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

Read about the ways U.S. Fisheries are reducing albatross bycatch

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. 

Any fishery closure, reopening, or change will be announced on the NOAA Fisheries hotline at (206) 526-6667 or (800) 662-9825.

NOAA encourages anyone with information about suspected marine natural resource violations to contact NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously. Rewards may be offered for information that leads to an arrest, conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for violation(s) of the laws and regulations NOAA enforces.

Last updated by Office of Law Enforcement on June 14, 2022