The Pacific halibut longline fishery was one of the first fully domestic fisheries to become established off Alaska. As the groundfish fisheries developed, regulations were implemented to limit bycatch of halibut, so as to minimize impacts on the domestic halibut fisheries. Halibut are taken as incidental catch in federally-managed groundfish trawl, hook-and-line, and pot fisheries in the Gulf and Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands areas. Interception of juvenile and adult halibut (~30 cm and greater) occurs in trawl fisheries targeting groundfish species (such as rock fish, flatfish, pollock, and Pacific cod). Incidental catch of halibut also occurs in groundfish hook-and-line and pot fisheries that typically focus on Pacific cod. Regulations require that all halibut caught incidentally in these groundfish fisheries must be discarded, regardless of whether the fish is living or dead. Halibut catch is controlled in the groundfish fisheries using prohibited species catch (PSC) limits. PSC limits are applied to specific target fisheries, gear types, and seasons. During some fishing years, halibut PSC limits have resulted in the closure of specific groundfish fisheries prior to the fleet harvesting the available TAC.
Related: Reducing Bycatch in Alaska flyer.
Staff contact is Diana Stram, 907-271-2806.