Halibut Bycatch Mortality in the Eastern Bering Sea
Mortality of halibut due to bycatch in non-target fisheries in the Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) has severely curtailed the directed halibut fishery in this area. Halibut harvesters in the EBS are strongly dependent on the resource and have seen their catch limits decrease substantially while the limit on bycatch mortality has remained static. Since 2011, bycatch mortality has increased steadily while directed halibut harvests have plummeted. The impacts of bycatch mortality are distributed throughout the range of Pacific halibut as fish from the EBS undertake lifelong migrations to other areas of the stock distribution, as far south as Oregon. The IPHC is working with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to correct this imbalance and develop a framework whereby controls on the groundfish fisheries will also contribute to conservation of the halibut resource.
For further information and reading:
- PowerPoint presentation at joint IPHC/NPFMC meeting
- IPHC Technical Report No. 57 - Report of the 2010 Halibut Bycatch Work Group
Halibut Bycatch Work Group
The Commission began an initiative in 2011 aimed at better understanding the implications of current halibut bycatch and to explore possible actions to address those concerns. The initiative created a Bycatch Project Team, composed of the IPHC Commissioners, to direct the work and lead the effort. Additionally, a Bycatch Working Group was created to provide analytic support to the Project Team. The IPHC staff also participates by providing analytic and editorial support.
The Project Team has recently completed its report, which includes the Work Group's analysis of bycatch across all areas, the effects of bycatch on the resource and fishery yields, options for reducing bycatch, and options for mitigating the impact of bycatch. The report includes changes made following public comment (Nov-Dec 2013) and direction from the Commission at the 2014 Annual Meeting.
Earlier products of the Work Group are archived at these links:
- 2014 Annual Meeting presentation
- Summary of Public Comments (Nov - Dec 2013)
- Public Comments (Nov - Dec 2013)
- Report of the Halibut Bycatch Work Group (ver. 9, dated 11 Nov 2013)
Estimating Bycatch Mortality
IPHC relies on US and Canadian federal agencies for estimates of bycatch in the major fisheries. Several at-sea monitoring programs exist where halibut bycatch is sampled to provide data for catch estimation and size composition. IPHC assembles these data each year to inform the stock assessment and also to understand the impacts of bycatch on stock productivity and long term health.
- Incidental catch and mortality of Pacific halibut, 1962-2011
- The Bering Sea trawl fishery Prohibited Species Donation Program: Results from 2011
Research and Analysis
Listed below are citations for many of the studies conducted by IPHC staff or in collaboration with other researchers. We have provided active links to the papers where possible.
Leaman, B. M. and G. H. Williams. 2005. Collaborative Pacific halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis, bycatch control by Canada and the United States. Mar. Fish. Rev., 66(2):31-37.
Pikitch, E. K., J. R. Wallace, E. A. Babcock, D. L. Erickson, M. Saelens, and G. Oddsson. 1998. Pacific halibut bycatch in the Washington, Oregon, and California groundfish and shrimp trawl fisheries. No. Amer. J. Fish. Mgmt. 18(3):569-586.
Rose, C. 1996. Behavior of North Pacific groundfish encountering trawls: Applications to reduce bycatch. [IN] Solving bycatch: Considerations for today and tomorrow. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 96-03, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Salveson, S., B. M. Leaman, L.-L. Low, and J. C. Rice. 1992. Report of the Halibut Bycatch Work Group. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Tech. Rep. No. 25. 29 p.
Trumble, R. J. 1996. Management of Alaskan longline fisheries to reduce halibut bycatch mortality. [IN] Solving bycatch: Considerations for today and tomorrow. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 96-03, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Trumble, R. J., S. M. Kaimmer, and G. H. Williams. 2002. Review of the methods used to estimate, reduce, and manage bycatch mortality of Pacific halibut in the commercial longline groundfish fisheries of the Northeast Pacific. Pages 88-96 in J. A. Lucy and A. L. Studholme, editors. Catch and release in marine recreational fisheries. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 30, Bethesda, Maryland.
Williams, G. H., C. C. Schmitt, S. H. Hoag, and J. D. Berger. 1989. Incidental catch and mortality of Pacific halibut, 1962-1989. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Tech. Rep. No. 23. 94 p.
Gear effects and Survival studies
Clark, W. G., S. H. Hoag, R. J. Trumble, and G. H. Williams. 1992. Re-estimation of survival for trawl caught halibut released in different condition factors. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm. Rep. of Assess. & Res. Activ. 1992: 197-206.
Gauvin, J. R., K. Haflinger, and M. Nerini. 1996. Implementation of a voluntary bycatch avoidance program in the flatfish fisheries of the eastern Bering Sea. [IN] Solving bycatch: Considerations for today and tomorrow. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 96-03, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Geernaert, T. O., H. L. Gilroy, S. M. Kaimmer, G. H. Williams, and R. J. Trumble. 2001. A feasibility study that investigates options for monitoring bycatch of the Short-tailed albatross in the Pacific halibut fishery off Alaska. Int'l. Pac. Halibut Comm., Seattle, WA. [Addendum]
Hoag, S. H. 1971. Effects of domestic trawling on the halibut stocks of British Columbia. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Sci. Rep. No. 53. 18 p.
Hoag, S. H. 1975. Survival of halibut released after capture by trawls. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Sci. Rep. No. 57. 18 p.
Hoag, S. H. and R. R. French. 1976. The incidental catch of halibut by foreign trawlers. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Sci. Rep. No. 60. 24 p.
Kaimmer, S. M. 1994. Halibut injury and mortality associated with manual and automated removal from setline hooks. Fish. Res. 20. p. 165-179.
Kaimmer, S. M. and R. J. Trumble. 1997. Survival of Pacific halibut released from longlines: hooking location and release methods. In: Fisheries Bycatch: Consequences And Management. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 97-02, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks, p. 101-105.
Kaimmer, S. M. and R. J. Trumble. 1998. Injury, condition, and mortality of Pacific halibut bycatch following careful release by Pacific cod and sablefish longline fisheries. Fish. Res. 38:131-144.
Neilson, J. D., K. G. Waiwood, and S. J. Smith. 1989. Survival of Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) caught by longline and otter trawl gear. Can. J. Fish . Aquat. Sci., 46(5):887-897.
Smith, W. T. 1996. Reduction of halibut bycatch and associated mortality in the Bering Sea cod fishery. [IN] Solving bycatch: Considerations for today and tomorrow. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 96-03, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Stone, M. and C. G. Bublitz. 1996. Cod trawl separator panel: Potential for reducing halibut bycatch. [IN] Solving bycatch: Considerations for today and tomorrow. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 96-03, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Trumble, R. J., S. M. Kaimmer, and G. H. Williams. 2000. Estimation of discard mortality rates for Pacific halibut in groundfish longline fisheries. No. Amer. J. Fish. Mgmt. 20:931-939.
Trumble, R., J., G. H. Williams, and S. E. Hughes. 1995. Methods to improve survival of Pacific halibut bycatch discarded from a factory trawler. Pages 591-610 [In] Proceedings Of The International Symposium On North Pacific Flatfish. Alaska Sea Grant College Program Rep. No. 95-04, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks.
Williams, G.H., D. McCaughran, S. Hoag, and T. Koeneman. 1982. A comparison of Pacific halibut and Tanner crab catches in (1) side-entry and top-entry crab pots and (2) side-entry crab pots with and without Tanner boards. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Tech. Rep. No. 19. 35 p.
Clark, W. G., and S. R. Hare. 1998. Accounting for bycatch in management of the Pacific halibut fishery. No. Amer. J. Fish. Mgmt. 18:809-821.
Sullivan, P. J., R. J. Trumble and S. A. Adlerstein. 1994. Pacific halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries: Effects on and management implications for the halibut fishery. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Sci. Rep. No. 78. 28 p.
Ames, R. T. 2005. The efficacy of electronic monitoring systems: A case study on the applicability of video technology for longline fisheries management. Int. Pac. Halibut Comm., Sci. Rep. No. 80. 64 p.
Ames, R. T., B. M. Leaman, and K. L. Ames. 2007. Evaluation of video technology for monitoring of multispecies longline catches. No. Amer. J. Fish. Mgmt. 27:955-964.
Ames, R. T., G. H. Williams, and S. M. Fitzgerald. 2005. Using digital video monitoring systems in fisheries: Application for monitoring compliance of seabird avoidance devices and seabird mortality in Pacific halibut longline fisheries. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-152, 93 p.
Cahalan, J.A., B.M. Leaman, G.H. Williams, B.H. Mason, and W.A. Karp. 2010. Bycatch characterization in the Pacific halibut fishery: A field test of electronic monitoring. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-213, 66 p.
McElderry, H., R. Reid, and D. Pahti. 2008. A pilot study to evaluate the use of electronic monitoring on a Bering Sea groundfish factory trawler. Intl. Pac. Halibut Comm., Tech Rep. 51. 31 p.