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Halibut catch limits soar for Central Gulf fishermen


The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) completed its 97th Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on Friday (Jan. 29), with decisions on total halibut mortality, fishery limits, fishing dates, and other fishery regulation changes for the upcoming season. A total of 278 Pacific halibut stakeholders attended the meeting electronically due to Covid-19.    

The 2021 Pacific Halibut commercial fishery catch limits went up significantly for fishermen in the regulatory Area 3A, the Central Gulf of Alaska, with a 26.95-percent increase from just over 7-million pounds available in 2020, to nearly 9-million pounds this year.

All other areas but two saw an increase in poundage from last year. Area 2A, Washington, Oregon and California remains unchanged at 870,000 pounds, while Area 4-C, D-and-E, the Eastern Bering Sea, will see a drop of nearly 3.5-percent, or about 60,000 pounds.

Area 4A, the Eastern Alutians waters, will see a nearly 18-percent increase in allowable catch, or a boost of 25,000 pounds. 

Area 4B will see a nearly 12-percent increase. 

Area 3B, the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, will get about a six-and-a-quarter-percent increase or 15,000 pounds. 

Fishermen in Southeast Alaska, Area 2C, will see a boost of about three-and-a-half-percent, or 12,000 pounds.

Canadian fishermen in Area 2B get a two-percent increase, equivalent to 11,000 pounds.

The total poundage available for the 2021 season will be 25.7-million, up 11-percent from last year’s 23.1-million pounds.

The Commission recommended an overall fishing season of March 6 to December 7 for all directed commercial Pacific halibut fisheries in Canada and the USA, which is a month longer than last year. 

In accordance with the IPHC Convention, the fishery regulations approved by the IPHC will be recommended to the contracting parties for implementation according to their domestic laws and regulations. In the United States, the recommendation goes to the Secretary of the Dept. of Commerce.