Obama to name Behnken
to halibut commission
In a final round of appointments before his second and final term comes to a close, President Barack Obama announced on Nov. 3 his intent to appoint Linda Behnken to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
Behnken is an Alaska fishing fixture and has served as an interim commissioner since July. The commission’s upcoming Nov. 29-30 meeting will be her first.
She currently serves as executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, an industry group that promotes the interests of Alaska’s small boat fishermen, and formerly served three terms on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council that handles all federal fisheries from three to 200 miles off the Alaska coast.
Behnken has a full schedule ahead of her, as halibut management is complex and has several issues needing fixes.
“My goal there is to work with other commissioners and stakeholders to update the harvest policy for the directed fishery, rebuild stocks, and reduce bycatch,” she said in an interview with the Journal.
Among other priorities, Behnken said she wants to revisit the harvest policy for halibut fishermen by expanding the range of information factored into harvest guidelines. She would prefer a harvest policy that accounts for fish of all sizes and ages instead of the current focus on fish over 32 inches, and accounts for mortality of all sizes and ages of fish.