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Biologists look at sustainable halibut catch

Posted: December 1, 2011 - 12:53pm

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Biologists for the International Pacific Halibut Commission say the sustainable halibut catch may be only half of its current level.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror ( ) says commission biologists presented their preliminary data Wednesday to the IPHC board at a meeting in Seattle. The board will make a final decision on 2012 catch limits at a meeting in Anchorage from Jan. 24-27.

Biologists say without adjusting for past overestimates, 2012's Pacific halibut limit would be set at 33 million pounds, down from 41 million pounds in 2011. If an adjustment was made for past overestimates, the sustainable catch limit may be as little as 15.3 million pounds across the entire North Pacific.

Biologists do not know why their estimates have been consistently too high.


Information from: Kodiak Daily Mirror,

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akmscott 12/01/11 - 05:05 pm
Simple-look who's by far

Simple-look who's by far taking the largest amount of halibut and slash their catch!Any idea's on who that may be?It's not the sportsmen!

oldwolf49 12/02/11 - 12:26 am
Been talked about before

Years ago it was said that the fisheries and the foreign boats were taking too much, nothing was done. Nothing will be done now either because too many people get kick backs and the people who subsistence fish are the ones who will suffer the most.

Kapco 12/02/11 - 09:12 am

Bycatch is the reason the estimates have been high. Only meaningful bycatch reforms and regulatory enforcement will help the halibut population rebound. Also, the increases in the pacific cod populations and dogfish populations should be looked at as well.

entropy 12/02/11 - 10:27 am

The real story is despite the IPHC's best efforts to refine their population model using all KNOWN factors they have still overestimated halibut abundance.

Facts: There are more halibut than ever but the exploitable biomass, those 32 inches and larger, are not being replenished by the larger than ever number of sublegals.

These sublegals, one pound "ping-pong paddles" have run the natural mortality gauntlet and won. Most natural halibut mortality occurs from the egg to up to 5 inches long. After that, and especially with the sublegal that show up in the trawl and longline surveys, nothing much eats these halibut. So why are they disappearing???

60-120 foot trawlers have 33% observer coverage when fishing but they get to "game" the system by choosing when take an observer. They make one tow in a safe, no bycatch, location right in front of town at 11:30 pm, pick up and make another at 12:05 am then go drop off the observer and voila! two days coverage. Multiply this on a fishery wide scale.

Here in Kodiak we hear stories, and watch cellphone videos ( ), from trawl deckhands of massive tows of dead pingpong paddle halibut that go unaccounted.

Trawlers try to spin this with the "everybody has bycatch" argument. The difference is the scale and the resulting effect. Individual trawlers have killed 100,000 lbs of these one pound halibut in a day or two.

These large kills almost always occur when trawlers are fishing with no observers, not when they are gameing the system pretend fishing barren ground to get their required observer coverage.
Expand this industry wide and do you think this might be the factor IPHC scientists are missing?

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