International Halibut Commission announces 2015 catch limits

By: Parimal M. Rohit

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Newly recommended halibut fishery catch limits for California would allow for 25,220 pounds of the flounder to be caught by sport anglers off the state’s coast, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the combined catch limit recommendation for the United States and Canada.

The International Halibut Commission (IHC) closed its 91st annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada, Jan. 30 by announcing a halibut fishery catch limit recommendation of 29.2 million pounds for the United States and Canada, reportedly a 1.7-million pound increase in the allowable catch limit of halibut along the Pacific Ocean coastline, in four states and one province.

California’s catch limit for 2015 is 25,220 pounds, significantly less than limits for Oregon (187,259 pounds) and Washington (214,110 pounds).

The combined catch limit recommendation for all three states is 907,000 pounds, though a majority of the recommended limitation applies to commercial fisheries.

Commissioners approved halibut season for American and Canadian individual quota fisheries to be open from March 14 to Nov. 7.

How the regional catch limit would impact recreational halibut fishing in Southern California remains to be seen.

The California Fish and Game Department announced it would implement an “active quota management system for Pacific halibut” and “implement a weekly in-season monitoring process … to actively track and monitor the fishery to ensure that catches remain within the allowable quota.”

California has never implemented an in-season monitoring process to track halibut catches. Previously, all catch estimates were determined after halibut season closed.

According to IHC, about 250 halibut industry stakeholders attended the Jan. 30 meeting, with more than 75 people participating through Web broadcasts.

Pacific halibut in California is jointly managed by IHC, Pacific Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries (Northwest) and California’s Fish and Game Commission.

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