Halibut Catch Limits Down 18 Percent Overall

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Jay Barrett/KMXT

As it wrapped up its annual meeting in Anchorage, the International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday released its 2012 catch limits, and as expected, there were significant cuts in most areas. The largest cuts came from the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. The Southeast Alaska Panhandle received an increase.

Area 3A, the Gulf of Alaska, will experience a 17-percent reduction from last year. That results in an 11.9-million pound catch limit, down 2.4-million pounds.

In Area 3B, along the Alaska Peninsula southwest of Kodiak Island, the reduction is the same 2.4-million pounds, but the percentage reduction is 32 percent, down to just over 5-million pounds. In Area 4A, the Eastern Aleutians, the cut is 35 percent, while the Bering Sea will be cut 34 percent. Overall reductions, from Washington State to Siberia, were down 18-percent or 7.5-million pounds.

Jeff Stephan is the manager of the United Fishermen’s Marketing Association in Kodiak:

— (IPHC 1 35 sec "I think people have been anticipating … fisherman would understand.")

Kodiak fisherman Stosh Anderson blamed the industry for not listening to staff recommendations in the past, for the large cuts required now:

— (IPHC 2 20 sec "I know it’s painful for a lot of people … shape today, if they had.")

Stephan (steven) agrees, saying fishermen have seen a reduction in the number and size of halibut:

— (IPHC 3 23 sec "We were pretty much all aware … number of fish continues to decline.")

He said the record prices halibut has been fetching may or may not counterbalance the steep cuts in the allowable catch.

— (IPHC 4 39 sec "The price is robust … prices of other species of fish protein.")

Though the cut to the Gulf and along the Alaska Peninsula amount to nearly 5-million pounds, Anderson says Kodiak fishermen will likely feel the cut no matter where they fish:

— (IPHC 5 15 sec "The Kodiak fleet fishes everywhere … fleet is very diverse in that respect.")

The only areas that did not get reductions were off the Washington coast in Area 2A, which will get a 9-percent increase, and Area 2C in Southeast Alaska, which will get a 13 percent bump, up almost 300,000 pounds. British Columbia fishermen will see a cut of over 600,000 pounds.

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