Alaska, Other Regions Will See Same Drop In 2018 Halibut Catch Limits

Excellent Alaska fishing industry writer Laine Welch penned a piece today in the Alaska Journal of Commerce about the drop in expected halibut catch limits after the governing body was not able to come up with updated numbers in a 2018 meeting. Three regions in both the U.S. and Canada will be affected.

Here’s Welch with more:

Following an increase in catches last year for the first time in several decades, the International Pacific Halibut Commission on Jan. 26 set a “suggested” coastwide catch for 2018 at 28.03 million pounds, a 10.7 percent reduction.

Alaska’s share could be 20.52 million pounds, a drop of 2.1 million pounds from 2017.

The numbers could decline further, as the six commissioners (three each from the U.S. and Canada) were not able to agree on catch allocations for the eight halibut fishing regions for the first time in memory since the IPHC began its oversight of the stocks in 1923.

Halibut catch limits are based on summer surveys at more than 1,200 stations from Oregon to the Aleutians.

“There was agreement that the general halibut stock is in decline, but no consensus on what the catches should be. Due to this impasse, the commissioners made suggestions for 2018 for their own countries,” said Tom Gemmell, executive director of the Juneau-based Halibut Coalition. …

Here are the 2018 suggested catches in millions of pounds compared to last year by area with pounds in millions (2017 harvest, suggested 2018 harvest and percent change):

2A (Wash. to Calif.): 1.33, 1.19, -10.5 percent

2B (Canada): 7.45, 6.32, -15.2 percent

2C (Southeast Alaska): 5.25, 4.45, -15.2 percent

3A (Central Gulf of Alaska): 10, 9.45, -5.5 percent

3B (Western Gulf): 3.14, 2.62, -16.6 percent

4A (Aleutians/Bering Sea): 1.39, 1.37, -1.4 percent

4B (Aleutians/Bering Sea): 1.14, 1.05, -7.9 percent

4CDE (Bering Sea): 1.7, 1.58, -7.1 percent

Total: 31.4, 28.03, -10.7 percent


Here’s the official release from the International Pacific Halibut Commission:

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) completed its 94th Annual Meeting in Portland, OR, U.S.A. on 26 January 2018. More than 200 Pacific halibut stakeholders attended the meeting, with approximately 100 more participating in web broadcasts of the meeting. Annual Meeting information, documents, and presentations are available at the IPHC website (

The IPHC did not agree on new Pacific halibut catch limits for 2018, and therefore the catch limits adopted by the IPHC in 2017 remain in place. Both Contracting Parties, Canada and the United States of America, indicated their intention to pursue lower catch limits for 2018 via domestic regulatory processes.

The IPHC approved a fishing period (season) of 24 March – 7 November 2018 for the Canadian and U.S. quota-share fisheries. The treaty tribal commercial fisheries and the incidental Pacific halibut fisheries in IPHC Regulatory Area 2A will occur within these dates. In IPHC Regulatory Area 2A, seven 10-hour fishing periods for the non-treaty directed commercial fishery are recommended: 27 June, 11 July, 25 July, 8 August, 22 August, 5 September, and 19 September 2018.

A subsequent IPHC News Release will provide more details of the 94th Annual Meeting, including the meeting report, regulatory changes, and other actions taken by the IPHC.