Pacific halibut stock increases after four years of decline
The Pacific halibut stock appears to be on the rise, which could lead to increased catches in most areas in 2022.
At the interim meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission last week, scientists provided an overview of the summer fixed line survey that targets nearly 2,000 stations over three months. The Pacific resource is modeled as a single stock stretching from northern California to the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea, including all internal waters of the Strait of Georgia and the Salish Sea.
The results of the survey showed that coast-wide landline combined numbers increased by 17% from 2020 to 2021, reversing declines over the past four years. Coastal scale weights of legal size halibut (over 32 inches) also increased by 4%.
âWe are seeing new trends this year,â said Ian Stewart, senior scientist at IPHC, which has managed fisheries in the United States and Canada since 1923. a shift in both fish and fishing towards younger fish.
âThe current stock reflects lower productivity in the growth of fish that are already in the stock than the number of fish that are recruiting into the stock,â said Stewart. âAnd that’s the opposite of what we’ve seen over the past few years. Both the survey and the fishery have had access to aging fish. It’s now reversed for this year, reflecting this shift from older fish to younger fish entering the stock, âhe said.
Young fish belong to a class of 2012 that will be increasingly important for future spawning projections.
âHowever, we just got a more solid reading of the magnitude of this age group, and information for years to come will continue to improve our understanding of its strength,â said Stewart.
Another trend is a shift in the distribution of halibut towards the central and western Gulf of Alaska (Region 3), where most of the stock is found.
“This distribution of the stock is more similar to that of 10 to 15 years ago than in recent years,” said Stewart, adding that the survey showed a 28% increase in halibut abundance in this region. region.
âWe started to see an increase in 2020, but it has become much more pronounced, leading to a proportion of the stock in region 3 that is larger than anything we have seen for almost a decade, and in particular in the mid-western Gulf, âhe said. noted.
Stewart called the 2021 survey “the most effective we have ever put on the water with the most information.”
The coast-wide halibut catch limit for this year has been increased by 6.5% to 39 million pounds for all users. For commercial fishermen in Alaska, the catch limit has been set at 19.6 million pounds and all regions except the Bering Sea have seen their catches increase.
IPHC data up to November 1 shows that the total catch by all users is approaching 38 million pounds. Alaska’s commercial fishermen had taken 92% of their allocation and the recreational catch was estimated at 7.6 million pounds, up 43% from 2020. Halibut bycatch for that year was 3.5 million pounds, down 23%.
The fishery has been extended for one month this year from March 6 to December 7. Final halibut counts for 2022 will be made at the IPHC annual meeting Jan. 24-28 in Bellevue, Washington.
No more by-catches! The IPHC sets annual catch limits for halibut, but federal fisheries managers set limits for Alaskan bycatch in waters 3 to 200 miles offshore.
Twenty-five state lawmakers have submitted a letter to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Board asking them to choose an option that will reduce the more than 4 million pounds of halibut bycatch that can be caught by bottom trawlers in the Bering Sea.
From December 9 to 13, the council will continue its six years of discussion and âmake a final decisionâ on a series of options, one of which (Alternative 4) will remove the fixed cap on the trawler fleet and enforce them. same rules. like all other users whose catches vary each year depending on the health of the halibut resource.
âIt is clear that bycatch is a glaring waste problem that is affecting our fisheries in Alaska like never before! This is the reason why I wrote this 4th letter to the NPFMC, in addition to calling for a meeting of the House Fisheries Committee regarding bycatch in general, which took place a few weeks ago. This bipartite, bicameral letter shows how important good management of our state’s fisheries is to the people of Alaska, âsaid Representative Sarah Vance from Homer, who submitted the letter with Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins from Sitka.
On a related salmon note – From the offices of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young: “The Alaska Congressional delegation to host a Salmon Roundtable on the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Northern Watersheds. Chignik River December 8 and 9 from 12:30 pm AKST daily. The agenda will include updates from the delegation, a panel of community leaders, and federal and state research presentations followed by a question-and-answer session. This event aims to allow experts and affected communities to come together and share information in a (virtual) room as we all work together to chart the best way forward for this essential resource. Agenda and additional information to come. This event is open to the public. âRSVP to [email protected]
Planet friendly packaging – OBI Seafoods, which operates 10 processing plants in Alaska, has met its goal of 100% recyclable packaging for all of its nine brands of canned salmon.
As of January, all boxes, lids, labels, retaining trays and shrink wrap are included and all plastics used contain at least 30% recyclable material.
âThe company is committed to ensuring that its packaging has the least possible impact on the planet and will help their customers achieve their sustainability goals,â said CEO Mark Palmer.
The move also means OBI’s canned goods are exempt from a new UK foreign tax on single-use plastics which will come into effect next April.
Meanwhile, packaging made from chitosan, this multi-purpose biopolymer found in crab shells, has caught the attention of investors.
Cruz Foam, a California-based packaging company, has attracted $ 2.5 million in start-up capital to start producing fully compostable packaging to replace petroleum-based polystyrene foam at a similar price.
The crab shell material offers the same strength and protective properties, but exhibits an average biodegradation of almost 98% with no adverse effects on the soil, the company said in a press release.
Cruz Foam said he is tackling plastic pollution “at the root” by inventing a versatile, Earth-friendly product that requires no recycling and “will help set the standard for the future of packaging and materials. sustainable “.
The crab shells come from fisheries in Alaska and are supplied by Tidal Vision, CEO Craig Kasberg said.