NOAA Fisheries Law Enforcement has conducted patrols during the very short commercial Pacific halibut season to ensure fishery sustainability. The first brief 10-hour commercial Pacific halibut fishing season window has already taken place off the coast of Washington.
‘We are here to help the industry and community understand the rules so they can be sure they are in compliance,’ said Enforcement Officer Dan Davis.
For the 2019 season, the International Pacific Halibut Commission recommended fishing days on 26th June, 10th and 24th July, 7th and 21st August, and 4th and 18th September, with fishing limited strictly to a ten-hour window on each of these dates, with fishing opening at 0800 and gear has to be out of the water by 1800.
The number of licences is capped and the overall allocation is for 115.40 tonnes (254,426lb), and once the allocation amount has been reached, the remaining days on the schedule will be cancelled.
Dan Davis said the Office of Law Enforcement will be conducting focused enforcement patrols in coordination with state and U.S Coast Guard partners.
‘We structure our patrols to specifically focus on compliance with rules and regulations governing halibut fishing, especially rules requiring proper release of halibut and proper marking of fishing gear,’ he said.
Halibut that are not retained must be released outboard of the roller. They must be returned to the sea with a minimum of injury by straightening the hook, cutting the ganglion near the hook or by carefully removing the hook by twisting it from the halibut with a gaff.