IPHC Halibut Update

Members, you will be receiving a newsletter update in the mail shortly.   The purpose of the newsletter being mailed directly to you is for us to share updates and also remind members that your 2016 membership dues are now payable.  Once we receive your dues, we will mail out a membership card for 2016 which can be used for member discounts.  Please note that participating retailers and insurers who are offering WCFGA membership discounts are looking for the new 2016 cards.

The SFI has also partnered with WCFGA to offer CTAG members a discounted dual membership.  Normally dues for both are $50 each, totalling $100.  However under the new program you can renew both with the WCFGA for $70, a nice $30 discount!

We are having e-mail issues!  Members change their e-mail addresses, which creates a bounce back on group mail-outs preventing quick efficient email communication.  When you mail back your membership renewal and payment please make sure you clearly PRINT your e-mail address so we can update our group list.

Halibut – as you may know WCFGA paid to send Deryk Krefting to represent us at the IPHC meetings in Alaska this year as a part of the Canadian Conference Board delegation.  Canada had 7 recreational Conference Board members, which was a very important presence at the IPHC.  The US delegation argued very hard for Canada to be held to the Blue Line TAC, which would have been 5.22 million pounds, whereas Canada argued successfully for 7.30 million pounds.  You can only imagine what our halibut fishery could have looked like at 5.22 million pounds – it would have been a very short season!

The final IPHC allocation of 7.30 million pounds is a slight increase over 2015, and after the release mortality discards are deducted represents around a 37,000 pound increase.  However, one of the issues Canada has faced is the US side is arguing strenuously that our recreational creel surveys have areas and times where we report 0 (zero) catch.  Canada’s position has been that our Commercial and Recreational catch monitoring is the most sophisticated and accurate, whereas the US catch monitoring is inherently poorly structured with a under reporting bias.  Canada has worked over the last few years to implement an Internet based creel survey to address concerns there are missing Area and Time data from our current creel surveys.  Thus the focus on building an improved creel model – iREC – to augment the traditional creel surveys.  Had we not pursued a method to augment our creel, the US side would have had more ammunition to hold our TAC to the far lower Blue Line TAC.

As a result, DFO will be implementing use of the iREC internet based creel survey data to fill in areas and times where we do not have traditional creel survey data for 2016.  This is new for 2016, and does reduce the amount of usable TAC that we have to work with as it fills in catch for both areas and times where in past we did not post any catch.

The SFAB then had the difficult job of interpreting how iREC would potentially play out in 2016, and consider that along with the sharp decline in the Canadian dollar which is forecast to increase US recreational visitors to fish halibut.  It was very clear working through the predictive models that even the status quo from 2015 halibut regulations would not be achievable without an unacceptable degree of risk of closing the season early.  Bear in mind the SFAB is also governed by policy that requires it to advance management options that will result in a full season within an acceptable level of risk there would be no early closure.

DFO is now considering a management option of 133cm for the large fish, and 83 cm for the smaller fish.  We will continue with 1 per day, 2 possession and a maximum annual limit of 6 fish.   Assuming DFO moves ahead with 133/83, the only change really is to lower the size of the smaller fish in order to ensure the predicted catch would be low enough to run a full season.

DFO will determine the halibut regulations for 2016, and provide an announcement in a few weeks to put in place the regulations which commence April 1.


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