Fisheries

Overview of the Fisheries

Pacific halibut are captured from the depths of the north Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea in a number of ways. The fish are primarily targeted by the commercial longline fishery and by recreational fishers, as well as taken for personal use (subsistence). Additional mortality occurs in the form of non-directed commercial discard mortality (bycatch) in commercial fisheries targeting other species that are not allowed to retain Pacific halibut. Over the last half century, Pacific halibut removals from all sources have ranged annually from 15,486 to 45,314 metric tons (34 to 100 million pounds), with an average of 30,307 mt (67 million pounds). Total removals in 2021 were 17,082 mt (37.7 million pounds), up from a COVID-19-driven low in 2020 (15,486 mt or 34 million pounds), but below the 50-year average. In 2021, an estimated 11,108 mt (24.5 million pounds) were landed from commercial fisheries (including landings from the Fishery-Independent Setline Survey or FISS), 3,470 mt (7.7 million pounds) from recreational fisheries, 2,064 mt (4.6 million pounds) from directed and non-directed commercial discard mortality, and 440 mt (1.0 million pounds) from subsistence. The IPHC Technical Report No. 59 provides further information on Pacific Halibut: Biology, Fishery, and Management.

Pacific halibut mortality sources

Research shows that Pacific halibut form a single genetic stock across their entire range and abundance estimates are, therefore, derived for the coastwide population. However, management of the resource is conducted on a Regulatory Area basis. IPHC first defined Regulatory Areas in 1932. Over the years, IPHC Regulatory Areas have been redefined and reshaped. The present arrangement was established in 1990. There are currently three major Regulatory Areas - Areas 2, 3, and 4, and each is further divided into subareas as shown in the map.

IPHC Regulatory Area map

Commercial Fisheries

Commercial Fisheries

Today's commercial fishing fleet is diverse, using various strategies to harvest the resource. Both the Canadian and U.S.A. federal fisheries agencies have implemented individual quota (IQ) systems.

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Recreational Fisheries

Recreational Fisheries

Pacific halibut continues to be one of the most popular sport fish targets, which has fueled growth in sport harvests, the charter industry, and remote fishing lodges.

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Subsistence Fisheries

Subsistence Fisheries

Today, in addition to providing active commercial and recreational fisheries opportunities to indigenous groups, Pacific halibut continues to be an important subsistence and ceremonial fish.

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Non-directed Commercial Discard Mortality

Non-directed Commercial Discard Mortality

Pacific halibut are captured in large numbers by vessels fishing for other species, primarily using trawl, pot, and longline gear that are targeting groundfish.

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