International Pacific Halibut Commission Meeting

LogoI’m at the IPHC meeting in Portland, representing Area 2A, Puget Sound Anglers. There’s lots and lots of mathematical tables to calculate each regions potential catch based on surveys, mortality rates etc. The biggest thing driving this meeting is last year’s IPHC sampling/stock assessment of Pacific Halibut. In all regions all user groups testified to excellent catches last season. However, the 2017 stock assessment shows declines in the stock that has everyone worried.

Let’s take a look at the survey, but please note, last year the survey, which consists of contracted long line boats setting “skates” of gear which measure 1,800 feet with a 16/0 circle hook ever 18 feet baited with chum salmon. IPHC has hundreds of check areas and added several in each area this year. Unlike the last stock assessment, they surveyed Washington State four months later, in August, at a time when the Northwest Coast experienced a Hypoxia event. Hypoxia refers to low or depleted oxygen in a water body and generally disrupts the area and creates a “Dead Zone.”

As you can imagine, survey results showed extremely lower numbers of halibut in the area compared to the last survey. Makah Tribal biologists and council members testified that area 2A off the coast did have strong numbers of halibut earlier in the season and disputed the survey.

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The image above shows where the Area 2A survey took place as well as showing the hypoxia zone.

Now, as a result, Area 2A faces massive cuts in harvest, unless the Area user groups agree to keep our harvest level, all users, at the same level as last year. Without the support of the Makah Tribe, and other effected Tribes, we sportsman don’t stand a prayer. Tribes have far more leverage because of Treaties to argue for Area 2A than sportsman. Sport fishing quota is determined by Area 2A’s overall quota.

During testimony yesterday, the Makah testified about their culturally important fishery to their economy and community as well as the sport fishing community that also brings a great deal of money into their community.

Today is an important day as testimony will be heard on proposals as well as Area quotas. My testimony will include the following bullet points that will be explained in detail.

  •  15,000 Puget Sound Angler members, most of which own boats
  • U.S. Congressional District 6 Economic Impact From Fishing, 126,892 anglers who spend approximately $125.4 million dollars supporting 1,713 jobs
  • U.S. Congressional District 3 Economic Impact From Fishing, 124,750 anglers who spend approximately $123.3 million dollars supporting 1,684 jobs

As you can see, sports anglers contribute BIG dollars to the economy. Wish me luck with my testimony. Below are some of the images used during the meeting.

One of the most critical figures introduced is the trend of “recruits” and lack of breeding age halibut. The image below shows strong years of recruit halibut and we are now coming into low years of recruits as shown in the graph.9

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About John L. Beath

John Beath is a writer, photographer, videographer, blogger, tackle manufacturer & Captain at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Southeast Alaska. He is also owner of www.halibut.net and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @ www.youtube.com/jbeath
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