NOAA Fisheries is providing notice of the immediate effect of regulations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). The commercial IFQ halibut season opens Saturday, March 14, 2015.
At its annual meeting in January, the IPHC recommended to the governments of Canada and the United States catch limits for 2015 totaling 29,223,000 pounds.
The IPHC adopted area-specific catch limits for 2015 that were higher than 2014 in most of its management areas except Area 3B, where catch limits were reduced, and Areas 4B and 4CDE, where catch limits remained at the 2014 level.
In Area 2C (Southeast Alaska):
- Commercial catch limit (after deducting wastage): 3,679,000 pounds
- Charter fishery one-fish daily bag limit with a “reverse slot limit.” Charter anglers may only keep a halibut that is less than 42 inches or greater than 80 inches in length
- If halibut are filleted at sea, the carcass must be retained onboard until landing
In Area 3A (Southcentral Alaska):
- Commercial catch limit (after deducting wastage): 7,790,000 pounds
- Charter fishery two-fish daily bag limit: one any size / one no more than 29 inches total length
- One charter halibut fishing trip in which halibut are retained per calendar day (charter vessel fishing trip ends when any anglers or halibut are offloaded, or at 11:59 p.m., whichever comes first). Applies to vessels only, not charter halibut permits
- If halibut are filleted at sea, the carcass of the halibut that is less than or equal to 29 inches must be retained onboard until landing
- No person may catch and retain halibut on a charter vessel in Area 3A on Thursdays between June 15 and August 31, 2015Charter vessel anglers will be limited to harvesting no more than five halibut on charter vessel fishing trips in Area 3A during 2015.
- Voluntary annual transfers of commercial halibut individual fishing quota to charter halibut permit holders in Areas 2C and 3A will be available for harvest in the charter fishery as guided angler fish, or GAF. GAF are exempt from the restrictions in place for charter vessel anglers and allow harvest of halibut by charter anglers up to the limits in place for unguided anglers.
Unguided halibut fishers in Alaska will continue to observe a daily bag limit of 2 fish any size per person per day.
The final rule to implement the management measures is in effect upon filing in the Federal Register, which happened today. The commercial fishery season dates are March 14 through November 7, 2015 for all areas in Alaska.