It would make sense that the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” would be well-represented in international halibut management. But that hasn’t always been the case – until now.
Halibut fisherman in Homer and the central gulf area will be happy to learn that one of their own has been appointed to the International Pacific Halibut Commission. That’s the body that sets the halibut quota every year.
Long-time Homer fisherman Don Lane says he’s very happy to be on the commission, after a year of waiting for the IPHC’s appointment process to run its course.
"I'm real happy that part is complete and now I can get to work with the halibut commission," said Lane.
And he’ll have to get to work very quickly. The commission’s annual meeting – its most important meeting of the year – kicks off Monday in Seattle.
"I've been trying to stay abreast of the issues," he said. "And I've been trying to keep in touch with people in the community and the state who are ... heavily dependent on halibut."
The big job of the IPHC – and the focus of the annual meeting – is to set the available halibut quota for the coming fishing season. Lane says that job is done using the best available scientific data.
"The commission does a very extensive survey from the Oregon coast clear up to the Pribilof Islands," he said. "And they will analyze the catch-per-unit effort, the size of the fish (and) the overall health of the stocks. And then they will decide how much is available."
Lane lives and breathes halibut fishing. He got his first halibut deckhand job in 1977 and has lived in Homer since 1980. He is the owner of the commercial vessel Predator and has served on several fisheries-related councils and commissions over the years.
The six-member halibut commission is made up of three Canadians and three Americans. Lane is the first Homer resident to serve on the commission since Drew Scalzi, who held a seat from 1998 to 2003. Also appointed to the commission is Juneau resident James Balsinger, who works as regional manager for the National Marine Fisheries Service.