halibut

Rudy Gustafson

Commercial fishermen are about two months into the halibut season, and the industry is dealing with some big changes. Prices for the valuable bottom fish have fallen about $2 per pound, and decreasing demand has left plenty of halibut from last year sitting in the freezer.

Both seem to be driven by consumers who are reluctant to buy expensive fillets in grocery stores and restaurants, but also by a new competitor that’s taking over a large portion of the market.

That begs the question: will Pacific halibut maintain its spot on the menu or be replaced?

Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration removed a reference to renegotiating the “Halibut Treaty” between the U.S. and Canada from a press release Wednesday. NOAA issued the release Monday to announce the final regulatory rule for the 2018 halibut season, but later removed the reference.

Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The total allowable catch for the 2018 Pacific halibut season in the Gulf of Alaska and Southeast will be set slightly lower than what U.S. commissioners on the International Pacific Halibut Commission had asked for.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will publish a final rule in the Federal Register Tuesday setting combined charter and commercial quotas in Southeast, area 2C, at 4.4 million pounds. That’s about a 17-percent drop from the total allowable catch in 2017.

Courtesy of the International Pacific Halibut Commission

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced nominees to fill two seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commission Thursday. Four Alaskans were nominated to fill two upcoming vacancies on the commission.

Current Commissioner and Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Linda Behnken is among the list of six names.

Commissioner Robert Alverson of Washington and general manager of the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association in Seattle was also nominated.

Both Behnken and Alverson’s terms expire at the end of the month.

Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, published an interim rule for the 2018 halibut season Friday.

It set the season opening and closing dates on March 24 and November 7. The rule also put quotas from 2017 in place, but that is likely to change.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut in U.S. and Canadian waters, typically sets both season dates and quotas.

KBBI

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, or the IPHC, will kick off its annual meeting in Portland Monday. The international regulatory body is expected to slash the total allowable catch of halibut on the West Coast by 24 percent due to declining stocks. With potentially less Pacific halibut on the market, prices are likely to increase, but a new direct competitor on the East Coast may hamper the market’s ability to compensate for lower halibut stocks in Alaska.

Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut fisheries in U.S. and Canadian waters, heard a presentation on reducing or eliminating the minimum size limit for commercially caught halibut at its interim meeting in Seattle Wednesday. It’s estimated removing the limit would boost the total catch across all districts by about 4 percent, but commissioners and fishermen questioned whether the change would reduce prices at the docks.

Creative Commons photo by Ed Bierman

The International Pacific Halibut Commission, which regulates halibut fisheries in U.S. and Canadian waters, is set to take a fresh look at the minimum size limit for commercial fisheries during its meeting cycle this winter. The current limit allows commercial fishermen to retain fish larger than 32 inches, but the size of mature halibut has been shrinking over the years, which has some wondering whether the limit should be reduced or removed altogether.

Since the 1990s the size of mature halibut has been falling.

Homer is known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” But, charter operators aren’t just targeting the prized bottom fish these days. An ongoing study published in the scientific journal Public Library of Science aims to find out how charter operators’ fishing habits have evolved and the ripple effect of their decisions.

University of Fairbanks Ph.D. Candidate Maggie Chan wants to know how and why the fishing charter industry is changing in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.