Homer Alaska - Seawatch

Story last updated at 5:23 PM on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Various fishing groups agree to support IPHC staff recommendations

IPHC Update No. 2

By Cristy Fry

Wednesday's International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting consisted of a conference board of commercial and charter fishing groups and Canadian and Alaskan tribal organizations coming together as an advisory panel to discuss the IPHC staff recommendations for 2012 catch limits and vote on motions to support or ask for change to those limits.

Canadian groups made a motion to increase the proposed catch limit for their waters, area 2B, something that was not supported by the U.S. contingent. That quota is recommended to go down from 7.6 million pounds in 2011 to 6.6 million pounds this year, after seeing an increase last year.

The motion failed.

Both sides agreed to support staff recommendations for a small increase, 12 percent, for area 2C, Southeast Alaska.

Recommended catch limits for area 3A, the central Gulf of Alaska, including Homer, generated a fair amount of discussion. Canadian groups argued that it is fairly generally agreed that trawler bycatch of halibut in the central Gulf of Alaska is under-reported, and that since the group responsible for getting that under control, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, has declined to get a handle on the problem, the directed fishery should take the loss to keep from dragging down the quotas in adjoining areas, because the 3A biomass is the base of the stocks that populate the rest of the halibut fisheries.

The 3A fishing groups were reluctant to take that bullet for the rest of the areas.

A motion to support the staff recommendations passed.

Similar motions for areas 4A, eastern Aleutians, 4B, western Aleutians, and 4CDE, Bering Sea and Pribilof Islands, also passed. All those areas are expecting a drop in quota.

The conference board meeting continues through Thursday to discuss proposed regulations, and processor groups are also meeting to discuss the staff recommendations as well as proposed regulations.

Check this site Friday for the final catch limits when the IPHC reconvenes.