Pacific Halibut Fishing on the West Coast
Permitting, seasons, and catch limits for commercial and recreational harvest of Pacific halibut in waters off of Washington, Oregon, and California.
Fishery Management of Pacific Halibut
The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) regulatory Area 2A includes the U.S. tribal and non-tribal commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries for Pacific halibut of Washington, Oregon, and California. NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage Pacific halibut in Area 2A under the Northwestern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 in coordination with the state departments of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. According to the most recent stock assessment (2020), Pacific halibut is not overfished and is fished at the recommended level that is set by the IPHC.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council develops, and NOAA Fisheries implements, annual management measures that allocate percentages of Area 2A’s overall Pacific halibut quota to the fisheries across these states.
Commercial Fishing Permits and Requirements
Permits and Application Deadlines
NOAA Fisheries issues permits for non-tribal commercial Pacific halibut fishing, including directed and incidental catch, in and off of Washington, Oregon, and California (IPHC regulatory Area 2A). No person shall fish for Pacific halibut from a vessel, nor possess Pacific halibut on board a vessel, used for commercial fishing in Area 2A, unless they are in possession of a valid paper or electronic permit issued by NOAA Fisheries. A vessel may hold a permit in both the directed and incidental sablefish fisheries, but no other combination of Pacific halibut permits may be held.
- Directed Commercial Fishery (south of Pt. Chehalis, WA)—February 15*
- Incidental Commercial Pacific Halibut During the Sablefish Fishery (north of Pt. Chehalis, WA)—March 1*
- Incidental Commercial Pacific Halibut During the Salmon Troll Fishery—March 1*
* Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST or the next business day if this date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday.
The IPHC requires all vessels greater than 26 feet to maintain logs of halibut catch for 2 years. The IPHC approves the following logbooks to meet this requirement:
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Fixed Gear Logbook
- NOAA Fisheries Pacific Coast Groundfish Non-trawl Logbook
- IPHC-provided logbook
Please see the additional fishing and gear regulations from the IPHC.
Fishing Seasons and Dates
NOAA Fisheries publishes the directed commercial fishing dates following the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission in January.
NOAA Fisheries will establish three or more fishing periods if we project that enough quota will be available following the close of the second period; for any third and following fishing periods, retention limits will be equal regardless of vessel class.
Recreational Fishing Permits and Requirements
NOAA Fisheries publishes an annual Pacific halibut catch sharing plan and management measures that include season dates, bag limits, and area closures for recreational fisheries. The following page provides the most recent information:
Charter Vessel Permit and Application Deadline
NOAA Fisheries issues permits for recreational charter Pacific halibut fishing in and off of Washington, Oregon, and California (IPHC regulatory Area 2A). No person shall fish for Pacific halibut from a vessel, nor possess Pacific halibut on board a vessel, used for recreational charter fishing in Area 2A, unless they are in possession of a valid paper or electronic permit issued by NOAA Fisheries.
Applications must be received at least 15 days prior to fishing in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery.
State Recreational Fishing Permits and Regulations
In addition to federal regulations, the states of Washington, Oregon, and California have established regulations for the recreational Pacific halibut fishery. Follow the links below for information on permits, season dates and times, gear restrictions and requirements, minimum sizes, and catch reporting requirements in each state:
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife | Recreational bottomfish and halibut
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife | Pacific halibut sport regulations
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife | Pacific halibut
Treaty Tribal Fishing
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission manages Pacific halibut fishing among thirteen member tribes in western Washington.
- West Coast Region Regulations Hotline (recording): (800) 662-9825 (press 7 for Pacific halibut)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org