After a decade of crashing catch limits, 2015 offers a glimmer of hope for halibut fishermen, with raised harvest levels and regulatory collaboration for new methods and practices.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission closed their annual meeting by raising the harvest allocation for the first time since 2004, which should be a sigh of relief for ailing Alaska halibut fishermen but especially the aggrieved Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands directed halibut fishery.

In 2004, the coastwide Pacific halibut catch limit was 76.5 million pounds. By 2014, that had been cut 64 percent to 27.5 million pounds. On Jan. 30, the commission, an international U.S.-Canadian body that governs directed halibut fisheries, set the quotas for commercial and charter halibut industries at 29.2 million pounds total coastwide catch, 22 million pounds of which goes to the Alaska waters. The 2015 harvest limit is 6 percent more than last year.

This is a 16 percent increase over the 25.2 million pound blue line harvest, the biological suggestion made by commission biologists. All areas except the western Gulf of Alaska will either see slight increases in catch limit, or have to same limits as 2014.

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