Halibut catches weren't slashed as much as people feared, although they still continue on a downward trend — and the outlook is grim.
A coastwide catch of 31 million pounds was approved Friday by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, a decline of 7.5 percent from last year and far better than a widely expected 30 percent cut. Alaska's share of the Pacific catch is 23 million pounds, down 2.5 million pounds.
The commissioners, three from the U.S. and three from Canada, each said the 2013 annual meeting last week was the toughest ever.
"I vote for the fish," said U.S. Commissioner Ralph Hoard at the close of the meeting. "Many questions remain about halibut bycatch and migration. While I am extremely sympathetic about the impacts on fishermen's economics, I am equally concerned about their future in this fishery. We don't want to end up like the East coast halibut fishery. There is none."
National Fisherman Live: 1/27/15
In this episode:
Assessment: Atlantic menhaden is not overfished
Bering Sea pollock fishery casts off
Dock to Dish opens Florida’s first CSF
Second wave of disaster funds for Alaska
Fisherman lands N.C.’s largest bluefin ever
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is still seeking public review and comment on the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Conformance Criteria (Version 1.2, September 2011). The public review and comment period, which opened on Dec. 3, 2014, runs through Monday, Feb. 3.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.