Halibut quota cut again

SEATTLE — Commercial and charter halibut fishermen on the Kenai Peninsula will see a reduced catch in 2014 under limits announced Friday at the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s annual meeting.
 
The commission is the six-member body charged with regulating the halibut fishery from Northern California to the Bering Sea under the international Pacific halibut treaty, including setting the catch limit each year.
 
For Area 3A, or the western Gulf of Alaska including Homer, Seward, Valdez and Kodiak, commercial and charter anglers will have a combined catch limit of 9.43 million pounds, down from a commercial catch limit of 11.03 million pounds in 2013.
 
The cuts are the result of declining mature halibut biomass, although the IPHC’s quantitative scientist, Ian Stewart, said it appeared that the stock was leveling out.
 
Although the conference board, which is the advisory body that represents harvesters, had advocated for higher limits, some Alaska fishermen said they were happy to see the commission take a conservation-minded approach.
 
“While it’s economically painful in the short term, I’m glad to see that the commission took most of the recommended cuts,” said Homer fisherman Malcolm Milne, from the North Pacific Fisheries Association. “This will hopefully put us at the bottom and we can start rebuilding.”
 
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