Halibut – NMFS Announces Catch Limits and Charter Management Measures for 2018

Alaska halibut fishermen gear up for March 24 season opener
NOAA Fisheries announces catch limits and charter management measures for 2018  (NMFS Press Release)

March 19, 2018

From Southeast Alaska to the Bering Sea, Alaska halibut fishermen are gearing up to head out to sea as the 2018 halibut season opens at noon March 24. It’s an annual ritual for both commercial fishermen and charter operators seeking to make their living through the pursuit of the tasty flatfish.

Out of concern for the health of the halibut stock, the 2018 Pacific halibut catch limits are lower and charter management measures are tighter compared to last year.

Historic Disagreement
For the first time since 1990, the International Pacific Halibut Commission failed to reach agreement with regard to setting halibut catch limits in U.S. waters, because Canada wanted, as they have repeatedly done, to set catch limits in its own waters that were above science-based sustainable limits.
The U.S. then went forward with setting catch limits through its domestic regulatory process. International trade policies must be free, fair, and reciprocal, including our nation’s international fisheries treaties and agreements. Failure of the IPHC to reach agreement may result in the U.S. seeking re-negotiation of the Halibut Treaty to improve the circumstances for U.S. fisherman. Until the treaty is re-negotiated, we must operate under the current treaty.

Through an Interim Final Rule developed by NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. is implementing catch limits and additional charter management measures for waters off Alaska that are consistent with the proposed limits and measures proposed by the U.S. Commissioners at the IPHC meeting. Those limits are lower than 2017 levels and consistent with the best scientific information available on the abundance of harvestable halibut in each area.

Adopting higher catch limits could further exacerbate the decline in halibut abundance throughout its entire range in future years. These lower limits are needed for the long-term sustainability of the halibut resource.

Catch Limits and Management Measures
NOAA Fisheries announced this Interim Final Rule to ensure that halibut catch limits, charter halibut fishery management measures, and Catch Sharing Plan allocations are in place at the start of the commercial halibut fishery at noon on March 24, 2018. The season runs through noon on November 7, 2018.

The Interim Final Rule establishes 2018 Commercial Fishery Catch Limits and Charter Management Measures for the Pacific Halibut Fishery off Alaska and applies to the following International Pacific Halibut Management Areas off Alaska: Area 2C (southeast Alaska); Area 3A (southcentral Alaska); Area 3B (southwestern Alaska); and Areas 4A though 4E (Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands). The catch limit for Area 2A is being addressed in a separate rule.

Specifically, this Interim Final Rule:
• Revises Catch Sharing Plan allocations for guided sport (charter) and commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A.
• Establishes commercial catch limits for Area 3B and Areas 4A though 4E.
• Revises allocations for the commercial IFQ and Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) halibut fisheries in Areas 4C, 4D, and 4E.

The Interim Final Rule also revises regulations applicable to the charter halibut fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A as follows:
• Area 2C (Southeast Alaska): Charter operators will have a one fish daily bag limit, with a reverse slot limit that allows retention of halibut less than 38 inches, or greater than 80 inches, and no annual limit.
• Area 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska): Charter operators will have a two fish daily bag limit, maximum size limit of less than or equal to 28 inches on one of those halibut, and a four fish annual limit. In addition, Wednesdays will be closed to charter fishing in 3A all season, along with six Tuesday (July 10, July 17, July 24, July 31, August 7, and August 14) closures in the summer. Vessels and charter permit holders will continue to be limited to one trip per day.

The catch limits for all areas (in net pounds) are shown in the table below. For Areas 2C and 3A, discards are removed before allocating Commercial IFQ:

2C – Total CEY 5,250,000; Commercial (IFQ) 3,570,000; Charter: 810,000; percent change from 2017  -15.2
3A – Total CEY 10,000,000; Commercial (IFQ) 7,350,000;Charter: 1,790,000; percent change from 2017 -5.5
3B – Total CEY 3,140,000; Commercial (IFQ) 2,620,000; percent change from 2017 -16.6
4A – Total CEY 1,390,000; Commercial (IFQ) 1,370,000; percent change from 2017 -1.4
4B – Total CEY 1,140,000; Commercial (IFQ & CDQ) 1,050,000; percent change from 2017 -7.9
4CDE – Total CEY 1,700,000; Commercial (IFQ & CDQ) 1,580,000; percent change from 2017 -7.1
Total - (2C – 4) 22,620,000; Commercial Total  20,520,000; percent change from 2017 -9.3

This Interim Final Rule supersedes 2017 catch limits-which would have resulted in harvest rates that are beyond the limits used in fisheries off Alaska for sound, sustainable, and precautionary management.

That science-based management is one reason why Alaska fisheries are renowned as among the most sustainable fisheries in the world, and helps ensure more than 70-percent of the world’s annual halibut catch continues to come from Alaskan waters.

On the web: https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/node/58256

Additional resources:

Sport halibut fishing in Alaska

IFQ Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.


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Mitchell Fish Pass Reconstruction

Goal: To ensure continuation of a self-sustaining coho salmon population in Mitchell Creek that provides additional coho annually for sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries in the Petersburg area.

It is essential that the existing fish passage structure be replaced due to structural integrity issues associated with the concrete.

This project was initially considered for implementation during the summer of 2017, but was postponed, and will be completed this coming summer.

Mitchell_Ck_summary_sheet 2.1.18

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The House Fisheries Legislative committee is meeting on Thursday Feb. 1st at 10:00 and receiving a presentation on the Board of Fish process by chairman John Jensen. Below is the presentation that will be discussed.  To view AK LIVE LEGISLATIVE TV

Overview of AK Board of Fisheries Process 1.31.18

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Lt Governor Byron Mallott Transboundary Mining Update

Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott

Dear Alaskan,

I am pleased to share with you some Transboundary Waters updates. The first attachment is the first Transboundary Waters newsletter by the Province of British Columbia. British Columbia agreed to provide newsletters to Alaska in the Communication Plan that is part of the Statement of Cooperation. The second attachment is an update on Transboundary Mine Projects compiled by the Department of Natural Resources. The third attachment a copy of the letter that the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources sent to Chieftain Metals regarding their recent compliance review of the mine.

I recently traveled to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia to meet with new British Columbia leaders, Canadian federal government officials, First Nations, and the mining industry. The focus of the meetings was to meet leaders and officials and to continue conversations on common issues of concern between Alaska and British Columbia. The Alaska delegation included both state officials and Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska officials. Minister Mungall, the new Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources reaffirmed the Memorandum of Understanding and the Statement of Cooperation (SOC). The general consensus of the officials in the meeting with Minister Mungall was that SOC implementation is working well.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) and British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) invite the public to comment on the potential environmental, heritage, health, social, and economic effects of the Red Mountain Underground Gold Project. The EIS / Application and more information are available on the Agency’s website at canada.ca/ceaa(Registry reference number 80093). Written comments must be submitted between November 14 and December 14, 2017 and additional instructions may be found at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website.

We continue to work with our Congressional Delegation in coordination of a trip to Ottawa where we plan to meet with Canadian federal officials to discuss our transboundary mining concerns.

Thank you for your continued interest in Transboundary Waters issues. My team and I continue to work toward solutions for the betterment of all Alaskans.

Happy Holidays!


Byron Mallott
Lieutenant Governor

Transboundary Waters – Fall 2017 – Final (Web)

Transboundary Mine Projects Nov 2017

2017 10 27 Chief Inspector Order Section 35

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King and Tanner Task Force Documents from 12.7.17 Meeting

2017 Preliminary Tanner Crab Survey Results 12.7.17

SEAK Commercial RKC presentation_December 2017 KTTF

December 2017 KTTF meeting BOF

Golden King Crab surplus production_final_2017 11.16.17

Southeast & Yakutat Shellfish (Jan. 11-14) & Finfish (Jan. 15-23): January 11-23, 2018 BOARD OF FISH MEETING

Comment due date: December 28, 2017 
Location: Sitka – Sitka Harrigan Centennial Hall
Shellfish issues are scheduled for Jan. 11-14, followed by finfish Jan. 15-23. Public testimony will be heard in two parts, one during the shellfish section and one during the finfish section.

Board of Fish SE Shellfish Proposals

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Gillnet Task Force Documents

2017 D11 GNTF

2017 D68 GN TF Post Season_Distribution

2017 GNTF Ktn Mgmt JBv1

2017 Haines Task Force Presentation

ADF&G GNTF Escapement 2017

Lynn Canal GSI Reynolds GNTF Nov 2017

2017 DIPAC Gillnet Taskforce

SSRAA Task Force Nov 2017


NSRAA Chum – the next 5 years chip

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IPHC Interim Meeting Recommendation 11.28.17

The IPHC announced their recommendation today at the interim meeting.  All the documents and presentations can be accessed through their web page

The presentation with the IPHC recommendation document is here: IPHC Interim meeting recommendation Presentation IPHC-2017-IM093-08-09-P 11.28.17

The IPHC survey showed a 24% drop in the number of halibut and a 10% drop in the coast wide weight of halibut.  As a result, the current harvest rate of F46 results in catch limit decreases in each area.

HERE is a simplified Staff recommendation table.  IPHC Interim Meeting Recommendation 11.28.17   For reference, the table provides the 2017 TCEY recommendations, the 2017 adopted TCEY, the resulting 2017 FCEY catch limits,  the 2018 recommended TCEY, and the resulting 2018 FCEY catch limits for each area after deducting bycatch, wastage, and sport catch.


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Purse Seine Task Force Meeting Documents

Below are the presentations shown at the Seine Task Force meeting November 28, 2017.  In no particular order.

2017 Juneau Seine TF presentation

2017 PSTF Ktn Mgmt v2

2017 Seine Task Force-Psg-Wrgl_Distribution

2017 Sitka Seine Presentation

ADF&G Pink Forecast

ADF&G PSTF Escapement 2017

NOAA Murphy PSTF 2017


NSRAA Chum – the next 5 years chip

SSRAA Task Force Nov 2017



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2017 Salmon Task Force Meetings

The 2017 Salmon task force meetings will be held in Ketchikan this year.

SEINE TASK FORCE MEETING Nov 28, 2017 9:00 AM at the Ted Ferry Civic Center

2017 PSTF Agenda

NR 2018 Pink salmon harvest forecast 

GILLNET TASK FORCE MEETING Nov 29, 2017 9:00 AM at the Ted Ferry Civic Center

2017 GNTF Agenda 2017

Below is a handout from ADF&G for both task force meetings regarding participation and value of the fisheries

2017 Task Force Handout value and participation

The Regional Planning Team (RPT) will be meeting in Ketchikan on Nov 30, 2017 At the Ted Ferry Civic Center

Fall 2017 RPT draft agenda

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SE AK King and Tanner Crab Task Force Meeting Dec 7, 2017

There will be a KTTF meeting December 7, 2017 1:00 – 4:30 pm.  The meeting will be hosted at the ADF&G regional office in Douglas, in Petersburg at the Tides Inn Conference Room and connected via web conferencing.  For web conferencing click on the news release link for directions.

Agenda items include:

  1. 2017 Tanner Crab Survey preliminary results
  2. 2017/18 red king crab fishery summary
  3. 2017/18 Board of Fish proposals

NR KTTF Meeting 12.7.17

Below is a memo sent by ADF&G to be discussed at the meeting in regards to BOF proposal #69

Golden King Crab surplus production_final_2017 11.16.17

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