Halibut is not only integral to the health of Alaska marine ecosystems, they are of great economic and cultural importance to stakeholders in Alaska and elsewhere in the United States. The Pacific halibut longline fishery was one of the first fully domestic fisheries to become established off Alaska.
Halibut is taken as bycatch by vessels using all types of gear (trawl, hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear) in both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands area but primarily occurs in the trawl and hook-and-line groundfish fisheries. As the groundfish fisheries developed, regulations were implemented to limit the bycatch of halibut and minimize the impacts on the directed halibut fisheries.
Regulations require that all halibut caught incidentally in groundfish fisheries must be discarded, regardless of whether the fish is living or dead. Halibut bycatch is controlled in the groundfish fisheries using prohibited species catch (PSC) limits for specific target fisheries, gear types, and seasons. Groundfish fishing is prohibited once a halibut PSC limit has been reached for a particular sector or season, and in some years, this has resulted in the closure of specific groundfish fisheries prior to harvesting the total allowable catch (TAC) for the year.
The staff contact is Diana Stram.