Hot off the press! The IPHC announced the new numbers and season dates for the 2023 halibut season this morning. The season will be open March 10 through December 7. Below are the commercial catch limits (TAC) and the total removals (TCEY).
This was a long and arduous meeting for both US and Canadian stakeholders. There was a push for conservation from both contracting parties and across user groups, but parties disagreed on exactly what the cuts should look like and how the burden should be shared. The cuts to 3A, 3B, and 4A were considerably deeper than what stakeholders in those areas proposed. As a reminder, the coastwide numbers per skate (NPUE) was down 8%, the coastwide pounds total per skate (WPUE) was down 11%, and the coastwide O32 pounds per skate (O32 WPUE) was down 18%. Click here for a summary of the 2022 survey.
Of note, as with the last few years, Canada's allocation incorporates mitigation for U26, or sublegal, halibut caught by the trawlers out west, which Canada argues impacts the future spawning potential of the stock.
The full meeting report will be published here shortly.
In federal crab news, NOAA Fisheries denied an emergency request from Bering Sea crabbers to close the red king crab savings area and subarea, stating that it didn't meet the criteria necessary to determine that an emergency did in fact exist. The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers group issued a response, which highlighted the agency's own admission that a closure would provide habitat benefits.
The next NPFMC meeting will be held February 9-13 in Seattle. Agenda items include final action on the snow crab rebuilding plan and lifting halibut vessel caps in Area 4. The comment period ends February 3. If you missed the NPFMC meeting last month, check out their December newsletter here.
Last heads up before the deadline: IFQ fees are due by January 31. Fees must be paid online in your eFish account by navigating to the "Payments" tab, selecting "Pay IFQ Cost Recovery Fees" and submitting payment.
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