The International Pacific Halibut Commission boosted halibut quotas across most of the state at their annual meeting last week, reversing the downward trend of the past several years.
The quota statewide for the commercial fishery is 18.47 million pounds, up from 16.75 million pounds in 2014.
The breakdown by area is:
• Area 2C, Southeast Alaska, 3.8 million pounds, up from 3.32 million;
• Area 3A, Central Gulf of Alaska, 8.21 million pounds, up from 7.32 million;
• Area 3B, Western Gulf of Alaska, 2.65 million pounds, down from 2.85 million;
• Area 4A, Eastern Aleutians, 1.39 million pounds, up from 850,000 pounds;
• Area 4B, Western Aleutians, 1.14 million pounds, unchanged;
• Area 4CDE, Bering Sea, 1.28 million pounds, also unchanged.
The guided sport fishery has separate quotas of 851,000 pounds in Area 2C and 1.89 million pounds in Area 3A, bringing the overall quota in Alaska waters to 21.21 million pounds.
The quota for the Bering Sea has been in the news for several weeks following the IPHC interim meeting in December which suggested a quota of 370,000 pounds, a 70 percent cut, while the expected bycatch mortality in the trawl fleet went unchanged at nearly five million pounds.
That led to a letter signed by a majority of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to NMFS asking for an immediate 33 percent reduction in the bycatch cap, and calls by other groups for a 50 percent reduction.
The trawl industry had significant representation at the IPHC annual meeting, and urged commissioners to basically take their word for it that they were working hard to voluntarily reduce halibut bycatch.
In their final comments, the commissioners urged them to follow through, and encouraged NFPMC to take action and reduce the caps by at least 50 percent by 2016. The halibut season begins March 14 and ends Nov. 7.
Marine Refrigeration Solutions is holding a three-day class in Homer at the end of the month with a registration deadline of Feb. 9.
The class will take place at Kachemak Gear Shed Feb. 27, 28 and March 1, with an emphasis on brine, RSW and blast freezers.
It is an intensive, hands-on class that teaches theory, sizing of units, safety, operation and maintenance, and helps boat owners be able to communicate with technicians from the grounds.
Find more information at www.marinerefrigerationsolutions.org/, and register by calling Mendi at (907) 360-6600.
Cristy Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.