Officers from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement will be conducting patrols during the upcoming commercial halibut fishing opening. They will be joined by state fish and wildlife agencies from Washington, Oregon, and California, and the United States Coast Guard. The patrols will take place on the Washington, Oregon, and Northern California coasts on June 22-24, 2020. The short fishing season begins Monday, June 22 at 8 a.m. and concludes Wednesday, June 24 at 6 p.m.
The patrols will focus on ensuring compliance with rules and regulations governing halibut fishing. These rules include proper release of halibut, proper marking of fishing gear, size and quota restrictions, and use of seabird avoidance gear when applicable.
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:
- Hook straightening
- Cutting the gangion near the hook
- Carefully removing the hook by twisting it from the halibut with a gaff
Use of these safe release measures promotes survival of released halibut and supports a sustainable fishery.
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 high and one-half inch wide in a contrasting color visible above the water.
New Seabird Regulation
New for this year is a regulation governing the protection of seabirds. Vessels deploying long-line gear will be monitored to ensure compliance with the deployment of seabird avoidance gear. Note: Seabird avoidance gear deployment only applies to vessels landing groundfish along with Pacific halibut.
Coast Guard personnel at select stations along with OLE officers will have extra tubs of gear to provide for those vessel operators who have not yet received them. The goal is to have each vessel equipped with and appropriately use seabird avoidance gear.
For more information regarding commercial halibut fishing regulations, please refer to the International Pacific Halibut Commission website.