Alaska share of 2024 commercial halibut catches reduced 2.7%

Halibut scientists blame 'bad recruitment' as a primary driver of the reduced catches. Further reductions are likely in the future.

by | January 29, 2024

Southeast, Bering Sea get slight increases; all other AK regions dipped

The total 2024 catch limits for Alaska, British Columbia, and the U.S. West Coast will be 35.29 million pounds, down 4.57% from last year’s total. That applies to all users: subsistence, commercial, sport and personal use.

Alaska always gets the lion’s share of the Pacific halibut catch. Alaska’s commercial catches for 2024 will total 18.47 million pounds, a 2.7% decrease from the 2023 fishery catch total of 18.99 million pounds.

The Pacific halibut fishery opens on March 15 and closes December 7.

Below is a catch breakdown by Alaska region in millions of pounds provided by Maddie Lightsey at Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.

Alaska commercial catches for 2024

AREA 2023 mlbs2024 mlbs % Change
2C Southeast3.413.502.64
3A Central Gulf7.847.56-3.57
3B Western Gulf3.092.98-3.56
4A Aleutians1.411.28-9.22
4B Aleutians1.221.09-10.66
4CDE Bering Sea2.022.061.98
TOTALS18.9918.47-2.7

“Bad recruitment” a main driver on catch decreases

The halibut catches were announced on the final day of the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s 100th annual meeting that was held this year in Anchorage. The IPHC oversees the health of Pacific halibut, a single stock appearing from the US West Coast to British Columbia to the far reaches of Alaska’s Bering Sea.

Commissioners cited low catch rates, lack of halibut recruitment, reliance on a single 2012 year class, and environmental conditions as having “uncertain” effects on the halibut stock.

“The problem is the hand we’ve been dealt on recruitment is just bad. It could change, but right now there is no evidence of another year class other than 2012, which for a few years now has shown it to be a potentially large producer.” 

Dr. Ian Stewart, IPHC senior Quantitative Scientist

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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