Graeme Bull of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board for the North Island, said that in 2011 there is a possibility of the sport fishery shutting down early. On the B.C. coast, 12 percent of the halibut quota is allocated to sport fishing under the 2003 Thibault Allocation Policy. The remaining 88 percent is allocated to commercial fishing.
Bull’s information revealed that the recreational catch was underestimated at this time, and that the 12 percent allocation allowed for little to no growth. If the recreational fishery is restricted to its current 12 percent allocation in 2011 and based on similar catch rates to 2010, the season could open in February but close as early as July 15, during prime fishing season.
Frustrating for sport fishermen is that the 88 percent allocated to commercial fishermen is not being fully utilized. In 1991 the Department of Fisheries and Oceans gifted halibut quotas to 435 halibut fishermen based on their catch history. The move was designed to remove safety concerns that arose from competitive derby-style fisheries and to stabilize the supply of halibut to market.
The Halibut 101 document said that the solution being proposed by sport fishing advisory boards on Vancouver Island is a “fixed number approach” that would calculate the anticipated catch pre-season based on the previous years effort and catch trends and allow for slight growth.