Alaska has long been appreciated as a premier location in which to go fishing. People come from across the state, country, and world to enjoy game fishing in places like Kodiak Island.
Among the many game fish that people prize, halibut in particular proves to be one of the most popular draws. However, to ensure the future of halibut, new regulations were recently enacted to limit the number of these fish that people can take on a daily and annual basis.
With the new halibut fishing regulations, people can now catch up to two halibut per day, with a maximum total of five halibut per year. At least one halibut must be under 29 inches in length. Another change to the regulations prohibits people from fishing for halibut every Thursday between June 15 and August 31. It was found that more halibut were caught on Thursdays; thus, to allow the numbers to rebound halibut fishing is prohibited on Thursday during this time frame.
The commercial halibut industry in Southeast Alaska also are bound by new changes that were enacted as recently as March 2015. According to NOAA, under the new regulations commercial fishing in this region is restricted to 3,679,000 total pounds of halibut after wastage. Further, commercial fishers can only keep halibut that are less than 42 inches in length or over 80 inches. If the fish are filleted at sea, the carcasses must remain on board and not thrown back into the waters. These restrictions are intended to conserve the halibut population and ensure that there is more than enough of this game fish to go around for people who want to enjoy one of the state's fishing packages in the future.
These newest regulations went into effect in early 2015 and have been met with an arguable amount of resistance. Under the old regulations, people could catch one halibut per day. However, that fish had to be under 37 inches in length. The new regulations encourage a focus on the harvesting of larger halibut. It also is intended to ease the disgruntlement offered up by some fishermen about having to spend money to capture fish that were relatively small in size.
Effects of the New Halibut Restrictions
As noted, these regulations are intended to allow people to catch fish that are larger in size, yet still allow for the conservation of the species. However, the changes also are intended to steer the interest in Kodiak Alaska fishing toward the harvesting of other game fish as well. State official encourage fishers to catch salmon, lingcod, yellow eye, black sea bass and gray cod.
The changes also encourage people who visit the state to consider engaging in other outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, or fly-out bear viewing.
Ultimately, the conservation of the halibut in Alaska's Southeast region is left to organizations like the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries, and the State of Alaska's Department of Fish and Game. The regulations are designed at a state, federal, and international level.