Fisheries

Overview of the Fisheries

Pacific halibut are captured from the depths of the north Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea in a number of ways. The fish are primarily targeted by the commercial longline fishery and by sport fishers, as well as taken for personal use (subsistence). Additional mortality occurs in the form of bycatch in commercial fisheries targeting other species that are not allowed to retain Pacific halibut. Over the last century, Pacific halibut removals from all sources have ranged annually from 34 to 100 million pounds (15,422 to 45,359 t), with an average of 63 million pounds (28,576 t). Total removals in 2017 were 42.8 million pounds (18,960 t), up slightly from 2016 and below the 100-year average. In 2017, an estimated 26.6 million pounds (11,605 t) were landed from commercial fisheries, 7.9 million pounds (3,587 t) from recreational fisheries, 6.0 million pounds (2,720 t) from bycatch, and 1.2 million pounds (530 t) from subsistence. The IPHC Technical Report No. 59 provides further information on Pacific Halibut: Biology, Fishery, and Management.

Pacific halibut mortality sources

Research shows that Pacific halibut form a single genetic stock across their entire range and abundance estimates are, therefore, derived for the coastwide population. However, management of the resource is conducted on a Regulatory Area basis. IPHC first defined Regulatory Areas in 1932. Over the years, IPHC Regulatory Areas have been redefined and reshaped. The present arrangement was established in 1990. There are currently three major Regulatory Areas - Areas 2, 3, and 4, and each is further divided into subareas as show in the map.

IPHC Regulatory Area map

Commercial Fisheries

Commercial Fisheries

Today's commercial fishing fleet is diverse, using various strategies to harvest the resource. Both the Canadian and U.S.A. federal fisheries agencies have implemented individual quota (IQ) systems.

View Commercial Fisheries
Recreational Fisheries

Recreational Fisheries

Pacific halibut continues to be one of the most popular sport fish targets, which has fueled growth in sport harvests, the charter industry, and remote fishing lodges.

View Recreational Fisheries
Subsistence Fisheries

Subsistence Fisheries

Today, in addition to providing active commercial and recreational fisheries opportunities to indigenous groups, Pacific halibut continues to be an important subsistence and ceremonial fish.

View Subsistence Fisheries
Bycatch

Bycatch

Pacific halibut are captured in large numbers by vessels fishing for other species, primarily using trawl, pot, and longline gear that are targeting groundfish.

View Bycatch