Sport - IPHC Regulatory Area 2C, 3 & 4

IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C, 3, 4

Alaska, U.S.A.—Sport Fisheries

IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C, 3, and 4 are located in Alaskan waters. The IPHC sets the overall total allowable catch and season (called the “fishing period” in IPHC regulations). The North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service then allocate Pacific halibut among user groups, some through Catch Sharing Plans.

Prior to 2014, there was no overall sport Pacific halibut catch limit in Alaska, just daily bag and possession limits for the individual angler. In 2003, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council implemented a Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) program for the guided sport charter fishery in IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. The GHL program specified predetermined harvest targets that changed in relation to changes in Pacific halibut abundance. Management restrictions were to be imposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when the harvest exceeded the GHL in order to reduce the harvest in the subsequent year. However, the GHL for the Area 2C sport charter fishery was exceeded every year until 2011, when fishery restrictions were finally imposed and the harvest was reduced below the GHL. The GHL in Area 3A was exceeded only once, in 2007. In general, the program had limited success in Area 2C in achieving the goals of effectively managing the charter fishery to the specific GHLs. In 2011, NMFS implemented a limited entry program for the sport charter fishery, which required that the vessel operator possess a special permit to participate in the fishery. Beginning in 2014, a catch sharing plan has governed harvest allocations to the Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A commercial and sport charter fisheries.