Since its inception, the IPHC has had a long history of research activities devoted to describe and understand the biology of the Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis). At present, the main objectives of the Biological and Ecosystem Science Research Program at IPHC are to: 1) identify and assess critical knowledge gaps in the biology of the Pacific halibut; 2) understand the influence of environmental conditions in the biology of the Pacific halibut and its fishery; and 3) apply the resulting knowledge to reduce uncertainty in current stock assessment models.
The primary biological research activities at IPHC that follow Commission objectives are identified and described in the IPHC Five-Year Program of Integrated Research and Monitoring (2022-2026). These activities are summarized in five broad research areas designed to provide inputs into stock assessment and the management strategy evaluation processes, as follows:
- Migration and Population Dynamics. Studies are aimed at improving current knowledge of Pacific halibut migration and population dynamics throughout all life stages in order to achieve a complete understanding of stock structure and distribution across the entire distribution range of Pacific halibut in the North Pacific Ocean and the biotic and abiotic factors that influence it.
- Reproduction. Studies are aimed at providing information on the sex ratio of the commercial catch and to improve current estimates of maturity and fecundity.
- Growth. Studies are aimed at describing the role of factors responsible for the observed changes in size-at-age and at evaluating growth and physiological condition in Pacific halibut.
- Mortality and Survival Assessment. Studies are aimed at providing updated estimates of discard mortality rates in the guided recreational fisheries and at evaluating methods for reducing mortality of Pacific halibut.
- Fishing Technology. Studies are aimed at developing methods that involve modifications of fishing gear with the purpose of reducing Pacific halibut mortality due to depredation and bycatch.