International Pacific Halibut Commission sets US, Canadian catch limits for 2019

Published on
February 6, 2019

The International Pacific Halibut Commission last week agreed on catch limits for the Pacific halibut fishery which runs from California to Alaska, according to KBBI

In 2018, the IPHC, the public organization responsible for managing the  U.S. and Canadian West Coast halibut fisheries, was unable to agree on quotas for the season, and as a result the quota remained the same as the 2017 season. Before last year, the last time the United States and Canada could not come to a quota agreement was nearly a century ago.

The main sticking point for the negotiations was the amount of halibut that Canada was allowed. Recently, Canada has taken about 20 percent of the catch. A U.S. proposal during the negotiations suggested that the number be closer to 12 percent this year, and a compromise was reached at 17.7 percent. 

Though most of the regulations will be similar to last year’s rules, some restrictions have been put into place in an attempt to help protect halibut stocks. For example, charter operators will be prohibited from operating trips on Tuesdays from 16 July to 13 August. 

After the commission was unable to come to a consensus last year, there was a sense of gratification after this year’s negotiations. U.S. Commissioner Chris Oliver said that he was “eager [to come to an agreement] because I feel like if we had come out of this meeting again with an inability to reach consensus, that it would be extremely negative in terms of frankly the reputation of this international management body, and to the implications to our numerous constituents.”

In the United States, quotas are split by region, with Alaska being allotted the highest quota – typically more than 20 million pounds – and Washington, Oregon, and California receiving a combined quota of around 1.25 million pounds. 

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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