The Pacific Halibut Convention was developed to administer the commercial fisheries for halibut between the United States and Canada. We believe the sport fleet halibut fishery can be managed separately from the commercial, Alaska subsistence, and tribal/First Nation fisheries. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) currently sets harvest poundage quotas for the various halibut fisheries in the waters off the US and Canadian coasts. These quotas are then applied through appropriate US and Canadian federal agencies to the states and British Columbia. We believe that it is time to re-structure the sport halibut fishery to be managed on numbers of fish landed, not estimated pounds landed.
Recreational halibut anglers are a critical component in the coastal economies of the US and British Columbia. They spend tens of millions of dollars which support many businesses from motels and gas stations to restaurants, grocery stores, bait dealers, and tackle shops. The continuing decline in halibut fishing opportunities is causing severe economic impacts to coastal communities particularly in Catch Share Plan Area 2A (Washington, Oregon, N. California).
Assigned fishing dates have created a derby mentality, forcing anglers to go fishing when they shouldn’t be on the water. Lives and property have been lost, and first responders including the US Coast Guard are put at risk when called out for search and rescue activities. Having an extended season would allow the sport angler to pick the days and sea/weather conditions for a safer fishery.
We believe the sport fishery can be better managed by limiting the number of fish that can be taken and possessed in the field and establishing an annual limit within a season structure. With more timely surveys and requiring a halibut specific catch record process, the Federal and state agencies can get a better handle on total harvest and provide more accurate harvest data to the IPHC.
We feel that that the IPHC can best address our concerns within the scope of the Convention under Article III, Section 2 (a), (b), and (c) below.
- The Contracting Parties agree that for the purpose of developing the stocks of halibut of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea to levels which will permit the maximum sustained yield from that fishery and for maintaining the stocks at those levels, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, with the approval of the President of the United States of America and of the Governor General in Council of Canada, may, after investigation has indicated such action to be necessary, in respect of the nationals and inhabitants and fishing vessels and boats of the United States of America and of Canada, and in respect of halibut:
(a) divide the Convention waters into areas;
(b) establish one or more open or closed seasons, as to each area;
(c) limit the size of the fish and the quantity of the catch to be taken from each area within any season during which fishing is allowed;
We would like to have the IPHC designate the Pacific Coast of both countries as one sport fishing area; establish one season – February 1 to December 31; and set an annual bag limit of six fish. With the same season and annual limit applied to both US and Canadian sport halibut anglers the concern about the IPHC being involved in domestic regulation development shouldn’t be a problem. We would recommend that the daily limit be one fish and the field possession limit be two fish.
The Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition and affiliated individuals and groups request that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife support our proposal to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council for implementation in the 2018 sport halibut season. The coastal communities would realize significant economic benefits from a longer season, and anglers could plan their vacations within the season structure and know that the sea and weather conditions could be safer. We look forward to the upcoming meetings and are hopeful that 2018 will see the sport fleet halibut fishery greatly expanded.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council which oversees ocean fisheries for Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California will be discussing new regulation proposals at their June, 2017 meeting in Spokane, Washington. This proposal has already been submitted by the Coalition.
Any comments on this proposal should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and it is suggested that your comments also be cc’d to the following agencies:
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Assistant Director (Fisheries) Ron.Warren@dfw.wa.gov and the WDFW Commission email@example.com
- International Pacific Halibut Commission firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pacific Fisheries Management Council – Halibut Manager Ms. Kelly Ames email@example.com
Public comments on the proposal received BY 5:00 pm (Pacific), Thursday, May 11, 2017, will be mailed to Council members and appropriate advisory bodies prior to the June meeting. This is known as the Advance Briefing Book Deadline.
Public comment materials received at the Council office after the May 11, 5:00 pm deadline, but BY 5:00 pm (Pacific), Wednesday, May 31, 2017 will be included in the supplemental materials distributed to the Council on the first day of the June meeting. This is known as the Supplemental Public Comment Deadline.
We thank you for your support.
For the Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Halibut Coalition, Port Angeles Salmon Club, Puget Sound Anglers, Coastal Conservation Association, City of Port Angeles, Port of Port Angeles, Clallam County Commissioners, Port of Port Townsend, halibut anglers, and coastal businesses with direct and indirect links to the sport fishing community.