Alaska Halibut Season Opens March 14

March 17, 2020

NOAA announces 2020 charter and commercial halibut management measures.

Halibut fishing

A fisherman in Southeast Alaska gaffs a halibut before bringing it aboard. Photo credit: Klas Stolpe

From Southeast Alaska to the Bering Sea, Alaska fishermen are heading out to catch halibut with the March 14 opening of the 2020 halibut season.

This season’s regulations were adopted at the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) last month. They are included in a Final Rule NOAA Fisheries filed with the Federal Register. They go into effect immediately.

This season’s federal regulations include catch limits established by the IPHC, and basic regulations for the commercial and sport halibut fisheries. Overall, the 2020 catch limits for the combined commercial and charter halibut fisheries in Alaska are 9 percent lower than the 2019 limits.

This final rule also implements management measures for the charter halibut fisheries in Areas 2C and 3A. These measures are necessary to keep charter harvests to within their respective allocations under a catch sharing plan with the directed commercial fishery. 

Charter management measures in Area 3A (Gulf of Alaska) are more restrictive than 2019. All Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be closed to halibut retention in Area 3A. There is a daily bag limit of two halibut, but one fish must be no greater than 26 inches. 

In Area 2C (Southeast Alaska), charter anglers are restricted to one halibut per day. There is a reverse slot limit where retained halibut must be less than or equal to 40 inches, or greater than or equal to 80 inches. 

Unguided halibut sport fishers in Alaska will continue to observe a daily bag limit of two fish of any size per person per day.

Alaska commercial IFQ halibut season dates are March 14 through November 15, 2020 for all IPHC management areas in Alaska.