As the 10-hour commercial halibut fishing season prepares to open tomorrow in California, Washington, and Oregon, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is standing by to provide compliance assistance.
“We’re always here to help the industry and community understand the rules so they can be sure they are in compliance,” said OLE Enforcement Officer Dan Davis.
He added that the region’s halibut fishery has been well managed and seems to be flourishing, but that in order to ensure sustainability OLE will be conducting focused enforcement patrols in coordination with our state and U. S. Coast Guard partners.
“We have structured these patrols to specifically focus on compliance with rules and regulations governing halibut fishing, especially rules requiring proper release of halibut and proper marking of fishing gear,” said Davis.
Halibut that are not retained must be released outboard of the roller and returned to the sea with a minimum of injury by one of three methods (1) hook straightening, (2) cutting the gangion near the hook, (3) carefully removing the hook by twisting it from the halibut with a gaff.
“Using these safe release measures increases the survival rates of released halibut and supports a sustainable fishery,” said Davis.
Another notable regulation is that 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 four inches in height and one-half inch in width in a contrasting color visible above the water.
For the 2018 season, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) recommended a series of 10-hour fishing periods — the fishery will open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. — beginning on June 27. Until the catch limit is reached, the IPHC will announce whether the fishery will re-open for the same 10-hour period on the following dates: July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, as well as September 5 and 19.
For more information visit NOAA’s West Coast Region Pacific Halibut website, or call NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement at (206) 526-6133.