Few fish have to swim through more red tape than the Pacific halibut.

Halibut has been governed by two regulatory bodies for more than 40 years, and 2015 will hopefully see an increase in mutual understanding between the two, as well as a welcome public display of cooperation.

Few fish have to swim through more red tape than the Pacific halibut.

Halibut has been governed by two regulatory bodies for more than 40 years, and 2015 will hopefully see an increase in mutual understanding between the two, as well as a welcome public display of cooperation.

Incidental catch of halibut in directed groundfish fisheries is likely to be the hot topic Jan. 26-30 when the International Pacific Halibut Commission holds its 91st annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement cost recovery fee programs for the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program for groundfish and halibut, and three limited access privilege programs: The American Fisheries Act (AFA), Aleutian Islands Pollock, and Amendment 80 Programs.

After a motion failed at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council by a single vote with an Alaska delegate absent, another effort is underway to reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea in the face of rapidly sinking catch limits for the directed fisheries.

NOAA Fisheries is being asked by the state of Alaska and representatives of the Pribilof Island community of Saint Paul to institute emergency action to lower halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.

The request to Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Eileen Sobeck came in late December from Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the city of Saint Paul, the Tribal government of Saint Paul and Tanadguix Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation.

NOAA Fisheries is being asked by the state of Alaska and representatives of the Pribilof Island community of Saint Paul to institute emergency action to lower halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries.

The request to Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Eileen Sobeck came in late December from Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the city of Saint Paul, the Tribal government of Saint Paul and Tanadguix Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation.

The overall feeling at the meeting seemed to be discontent with a grain of salt. Many fishermen who attended voiced their frustration with the observer program in general. But, many also said that they understand what its purpose is.

That sentiment is nothing new to Martin Lefled, who works with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, based out of Seattle, and is the director of the observer program in Alaska for the federal fisheries. He says NMFS has received a lot of feedback and it’s listening.

The coming year should prove a lucrative year for Alaska fisheries, even in the face of the doom and gloom surrounding the chinook salmon declines and a sketchy halibut situation.

The largest volume fishery, pollock, and the most valuable fishery, salmon, both have positive forecasts and large projected harvests; escapements for Alaska’s iconic king salmon were largely achieved in 2014; and various regulatory bodies have a full schedule to deal with both hurting and flourishing stocks.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — After a motion failed at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council by a single vote with an Alaska delegate absent, another effort is underway to reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea in the face of rapidly sinking catch limits for the directed fisheries.
Interim Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and the other five Alaska members of the North Pacific council signed a letter to National Marine Fisheries Service Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck on Dec. 18 asking for an emergency reduction in Bering Sea halibut bycatch.