Pacific Council News Fall 2020: Halibut

Council adopts 2021 Catch Sharing Plan changes, annual regulations

In September the Council adopted proposed changes to the 2020 Area 2A Pacific halibut Catch Sharing Plan and annual fishing regulations for West Coast recreational fisheries for public review. In addition to status quo, the options include:

In the Columbia River subarea, allowing the retention of yellowtail rockfish, widow rockfish, canary rockfish, redstriped rockfish, greenstriped rockfish, slivergray rockfish, chilipepper, bocaccio, and blue/deacon rockfish, Pacific cod, flatfish species, and lingcod north of the Washington-Oregon border on all-depth halibut days.

Removing the descriptions of the South Coast Recreational and Westport Offshore Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Areas from relevant sections of the Catch Sharing Plan. 

In Oregon, allowing fishing with longleader gear on the same trip as halibut fishing during the all-depth halibut days coastwide.

In California, setting the end date of the sport fishery to no later than November 15 (currently it is no later than October 31).

Final action on 2021 Pacific halibut fisheries is scheduled for the November 2020 Council meeting.  

Transition of Area 2A fishery management continues

The Council continued the process of transitioning Pacific halibut management from IPHC to the Council and NMFS, adopting preliminary preferred alternatives (PPAs) for public review.

The PPAs  include considering the directed fishery framework during the Catch Sharing Plan process in September and November, including any guidance for vessel limits and insesason changes (Alt. 4.1.2, Alt 2); issuing permits for all Area 2A halibut fisheries (Alt. 4.2.1, Alt 2); allowing NMFS to set application deadlines for commercial halibut applications (Alt. 4.2.2, Alt. 2); and requiring that proof of permit be on board applicable fishing vessels, readily available upon request (Alt. 4.2.5, Alt. 1). The Council is scheduled to select final alternatives at its November 2020 meeting.  A description of all the alternatives and accompanying analyses are available on the Council’s website.

Preliminary commercial halibut fishing regulations for 2021 adopted

In September the Council adopted preliminary recommendations for public review for the 2021 Area 2A non-tribal directed commercial halibut fishery. The recommendations, which are open for public comment, include two options: ten-hour openings and 58-hour openings, starting on the fourth Monday in June. The 58-hour openings would begin at 8:00 a.m. on day 1 and continue until 6:00 p.m. on day 3. They could be open either on Mondays through Wednesdays or Tuesdays through Thursdays.

The structure of this fishery has been a topic of discussion between the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Council over the past few years as the management of the fishery transitions from the IPHC to the Council.

The Council’s final 2021 season structure recommendation will be forwarded to IPHC for consideration during their meetings in November and January. 

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