Halibut quotas for 2018 come in slightly lower than expected

Credit 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.

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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.

In the central Gulf of Alaska, area 3A, commercial and charter fishermen will be allocated 9.1 million pounds, a roughly 900,000-pound difference from last year and about 400,000 fewer pounds than what U.S. commissioners requested. In all, Alaskan charter and halibut fishermen will be allowed to harvest 20.5 million pounds, down about 2 million pounds from last year.

This comes after Canadian and U.S. IPHC commissioners, who typically set quotas together, could not come to an agreement at their annual meeting in January, the first time since 1990. Both countries decided to set quotas through their own domestic rule-making processes.

According to a NOAA press release, the U.S. will continue following the IPHC process, but says it may seek to re-negotiate the 1923 treaty that created the international regulatory body in order “to improve the circumstances for U.S. fishermen.” The 2018 halibut season will open on March 24.

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