Pacific halibut fishery opens on March 15

Nearly 2,000 Alaska longline fishermen hold shares of Pacific halibut.

by | March 14, 2024

AK commercial catches total 18.47 million pounds, a 2.7% decrease

The Pacific halibut fishery opens on Friday in Alaska, British Columbia and the US west coast.

The total 2024 catch limits are 35.29 million pounds, down 4.57% from last year’s total. That applies to all users: subsistence, commercial, sport and personal use.

International Pacific Halibut Commissioners cited low 2023 catch rates, lack of halibut recruitment, reliance on a single 2012 year class, and environmental conditions as having “uncertain” effects on the halibut stock. Fishery managers also reported the lowest spawning biomass in 40 years for Pacific halibut and the fish are smaller than usual.

Fresh halibut will hit the market first, with pricing expected to be high until around May when processors start freezing fish, according to market watcher Tradex.

“Utilizing historical catch data, the 2024 season could potentially yield a net weight harvest of about 25 million pounds which could be the lowest since 2020,” Tradex reported.

“With potentially around 5 million pounds less Pacific halibut for the market than other recent years, we may see some upward price pressure depending on the dynamics of the fresh and frozen supply,” Tradex said.

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

Below are charts provided by Maddie Lightsey at Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.

The first includes all halibut removals from harvests and “incidental wastage” — TCEY stands for Total Constant Exploitation Yield. The second chart shows the commercial catch limits for each region.

Here’s the breakdown for 2024 Alaska halibut catches in millions of pounds by region, with 2023 comparisons.

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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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