Pacific Council News Winter 2019: Halibut

Washington, Oregon Recommend Sport Halibut Season Changes

Recreational fishing boats in Blaine, Washington. Photo: Cascade Creatives/Shutterstock

In November, the Council adopted the following recommended changes for Washington and Oregon sport halibut fisheries. The changes are consistent with state recommendations after the states of Washington and Oregon held public meetings. No changes were proposed for California recreational fisheries.  

Washington proposed changes:

  1. Puget Sound Subarea: Provide flexibility for this subarea to open in April.
  2. North Coast, South Coast, and Columbia River Subareas: In years when April 30 falls on a Thursday, provide flexibility for the season to open on April 30.
  3. All Washington Subareas: Revise the current Catch Sharing Plan language to provide the flexibility to open up to three days per week.

Specific season dates were also adopted, as described in the Washington report.

Oregon proposed changes:

  1. Columbia River and Southern Oregon Subareas: Revise the Southern Oregon Subarea allocation rule so that any poundage over 8,000 pounds is allocated to the Columbia River Subarea.
  2. Central Coast Subarea: Revise the start date of the nearshore fishery from June 1 to May 1 in years when the allocation is 25,000 pounds or greater.
  3. Central Coast Subarea: Revise the number of days open per week in the summer all-depth fishery from two days to three days if, after the spring all-depth fishery concludes, the remaining spring allocation plus the summer all-depth allocation totals at least 60,000 pounds. The additional open day in the summer fishery would be Thursday.

Council Adopts Final Recommendation for 2020 Commercial Halibut Season

The Council has adopted a final recommendation for the non-Indian directed halibut season. The proposed season would begin on the fourth Monday in June 2020, and will run for three days, with subsequent periods as necessary to achieve the allowable catch level. The season would start at 8:00 a.m. on day 1 and conclude at 6 p.m. on day 3. This recommendation will be forwarded to the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) for consideration, along with other alternatives.

Council Discusses Transfer of Halibut Management Authority 

The Area 2A non-Indian commercial directed Pacific halibut fishery structure has been a topic of discussion between the IPHC and Council over the past few years.  In June 2019, the Council decided to move forward with transitioning management authority for this fishery from IPHC to the Council.  

As part of the transition plan, the Council used its September/November Catch Sharing Plan revision process to solicit stakeholder input and consider recommendations for the season structure of the directed fishery. The Council encouraged stakeholders to provide comment to the Council and at public meetings held by Oregon and Washington, which resulted in the Council-recommended season described in the article above.

In November, National Marine Fisheries Service presented potential steps and a timeline for completing the transfer. The NMFS timeline suggests January 2022 is the earliest the transition process could be completed. The Council is scheduled to discuss this topic again in March 2020.

Return to newsletter