Halibut opening

Discussion in 'Saltwater Fishing Forum' started by Roberth, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    New post on The Ardent Angler
    Of halibut in 2018.
    by Jeremy Maynard
    This time of year is always a busy period in fisheries management as proposals are reviewed and plans are developed for the season to come. In an increasingly crowded spectrum of issues important to the BC marine recreational fishery being considered, in recent weeks several groundfish concerns have been prominent, beginning with halibut.

    In late January the International Pacific Halibut Commission (Canada & US) held its 94th annual meeting, in Portland. Against a background of declining recruitment to and abundance of this fishery resource, for only the second time in the history of this particular treaty process the two countries were unable to reach agreement on allowable catch shares between them. While it is apparent that halibut in the northeast Pacific Ocean are experiencing a low productivity phase, something that all wildlife goes through in the eternal “peaks and valleys” cycle of abundance, the situation is aggravated by the unwillingness of Alaska to deal with the large and persistent issue of halibut by-catch, usually high numbers of smaller fish, caught in fisheries directed at other species. The numbers are truly large and given that, as a generalization, halibut migrate in a northwest to southeast direction across their range this issue has big implications for recruitment to and allowable harvest along Canada’s Pacific coast.

    In the absence of a bilateral agreement DFO has taken the precautionary approach and made the decision to reduce the Canadian total allowable catch (TAC, all fisheries) to 7.1 million pounds, down from 7.45 million pounds in 2017. After the various fishery allocations have been accounted for, including most importantly the 85/15% commercial/recreational sharing formula used by the government, the recreational fishery allocation for 2018 is 928,000 pounds. Given that the maximum size and bag limit regulations in place last year in combination with a 1.18 million pound recreational catch allocation resulted in an early closure (September 8), it quickly became obvious there were going to be some painful discussions regarding halibut opportunities in 2018.

    These took place this past weekend at the most recent main Sport Fishing Advisory Board meeting, beginning at the Groundfish/Shellfish working group session on the Friday. Needless to say there were a variety of opinions in how best to utilize the allowed recreational catch share but once again maximizing season length was a priority consideration and there’s a number of variables like weather, price of fuel and how good salmon fishing is that nobody can predict and which have potential impact on the amount of effort directed at catching halibut. Of course this isn’t the first time this sort of discussion has had to occur, albeit with less constraints previously, and working from a decade of experience and with some maximum size and probable rate of catch scenarios developed by DFO groundfish staff the SFAB volunteers developed a set of recommendations which, based on past experience, will be implemented by the department.

    The season start date will be March 1, a one month delay, and the annual limit of halibut remains at 6 fish with a daily bag limit of 1. A number of participants advocated for a possession limit (in possession away from home) of one fish also, in order to allow for a larger maximum size limit but in the end the recommendation is for continuing a 2 fish possession limit, with the smaller of the fish having a maximum size of 83 cm/33 inches, about a 15-pound fish. The larger size limit on one of the two fish is 115 cm/46 inches, a halibut in the low 40-pound range.

    Assuming the recommendations are implemented by DFO, because the halibut allocation is for the calendar year but the regulations are linked to the license year (April 1 – March 31) the season will begin March 1 using last year’s regulations in which the larger fish maximum size limit is 133 cm/53 inches or approximately a 70-pound fish. Effort in the early season is generally low so hopefully there won’t be too much of a gold rush mentality by those looking to harvest a larger halibut and accelerate the landed poundage, with potential early closure implications later in the year.

    As halibut go a fish in the low forty pound range is not a large one and there will be lots of disappointed anglers, especially when they have to release a much larger halibut, that they won’t be allowed to keep good-sized fish. The combination of last years early closure along with what are expected to be this year’s highly restrictive size limits has ensured the need to change the commercial and recreational fisheries inter-sectoral halibut allocation policy, so expect hear more about this in the not so distant future. No argument has ever been made that the value of a pound of halibut caught in the commercial fishery is worth more to the Canadian economy than that which might be caught in the recreational fishery, so why should several hundred commercial fishing Canadians have control over 85% of the resource that a hundred thousand or more anglers wish to access via the recreational fishery?

    The other challenging issue dealt with at the recent main SFAB meeting concerns management of what are termed outside yelloweye rockfish, meaning those caught along the west coast of Vancouver Island and on the central and north coasts; these fish are now recognized as genetically distinct from those living in inside waters, i.e. Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait. Like all of the some three-dozen rockfish species, yelloweye’s are very long-lived, non-migratory, slow to mature and with erratic spawning rates and, crucially, are prone to barotrauma or the inability to deal with pressure change when brought up from the deeps.

    The outside yelloweye stock (OYE) has been assessed as in need of the utmost protection, no easy matter when they are readily caught by those fishing for halibut, lingcod and other groundfish species. Hook and line fishermen of all kinds are now paying the price of the gross negligence by DFO groundfish staff several decades ago, when they allowed OYE harvest in the range of 800 – 1,100 tons per year in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, almost all by various commercial fisheries. Now the demographic shoe has dropped and DFO wants to cap the all-fishery (commercial, First Nations and recreational) harvest to 100 tons per year, with the recreational share cap based on past sector harvest averages of just 13 tons annually. This is going to be close to mission impossible without draconian measures such as large area closures because even with the recent year bag limit of 1 yelloweye per angler per day the assessed recreational catch is running at 50+ tons per year.

    In an effort to avoid some of the worst possible effects of probable new management measures, various recommendations were made to DFO, including the mandatory use of descending devices by those anglers specifically bottom fishing. There is a growing body of evidence that a rockfish quickly returned to depth and released has a pretty good chance at surviving the experience and there are a number of devices on the market that enable the angler to do this fairly easily. Expect to hear more on this challenging issue before the outside fishery summer season gets going in earnest.

    Jeremy Maynard | February 8, 2018 at 11:51 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p7zAr0-61
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  2. Cuba Libre

    Cuba Libre Well-Known Member

    I fixed it. Does that make you happy? I am sure you can figure it out. Dam I love this forum.[/QUOTE]

    Much better.. The reason I called this , is that so many people dont know who their govt representatives are. As one who worked in govt , I know that misaddressed letters, emails etc just get sent to the circular file. And dont get me started on those who cant seem to understand the jobs and responsibilities between Conservation Officers, Game Wardens, Fisheries Guardian, Fisheries Officers, Watchmen etc. It does make a difference in how the bureaucrats respond to input from the public.

    Hijack over-- carry on.
    ziggy likes this.
  3. ziggy

    ziggy Well-Known Member

    Deviate, my favourite position? How so? That makes even less sense than you Classic Bla Bla Bla.
    meathook and SerengetiGuide like this.
  4. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    So get involved and show us all here how it’s done.
    Go to meetings and actually provide your wisdom.

  5. Admin

    Admin Admin Staff Member

    Time to get this back on track....although, compared to the "old" days these Halibut threads have been quite civil. Back then we wouldn't have made it past the second page without someone getting gonged, so there is progress! It is an important topic so let's not derail it.
    big rock likes this.
  6. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    Hey gang, a spirited debate for sure. I get that some people might not like the decision, but it is the result of a democratic process and we should respect that and move forward by focusing on things that will actually make a difference (85/15 allocation for example). I don't mind telling people how I voted and why, I have nothing to hide, and I suspect that if you asked others sitting at the table they will tell you also. No one sitting there takes their obligations loosely - they are good, knowledgable people trying to do the best they can within the existing process.

    These are very difficult decisions, compounded by a completely unworkable timeline between the IPHC decision and when DFO needs to publish the licenses (14 days or less most years). I have always believed that where there are problems within a process, it is usually a badly designed process that leads to people within it making mistakes. Learn from what didn't work, surface pain points in the process, adapt, improve and move forward...that's LEAN, 6 Sigma thinking.

    That's also the spirit in which a new process motion was advanced this year following the halibut agenda item concluding. I'm hoping the motion introduced/passed to ask DFO to provide the SFAC Chairs with modelled management option tables based on different TAC alternatives in the fall of each year will give us a chance to have each SFAC consider which options best suit their values. We will face even tougher decisions next year - make your preferences known. Good to start thinking in terms of which 4 months of the season would you keep, what is the size of fish you prefer to fish for, etc. Tough choices we could face if our TAC was to be reduced again.

    The beautiful thing about the SFAB process is we can introduce changes like this to do a little outside the box thinking to improve the quality of consultations. So, this coming fall if you attend your SFAC meeting, you will have halibut management options tables to review and provide your preferences. Strongly encourage you to come, get involved, and make your preferences known.
  7. SerengetiGuide

    SerengetiGuide Well-Known Member

    Great post. I want to apologize to the volunteers who put time forward for us, was definitely too aggressive and emotional in my past posts. You do what you think is best (even if I disagree with what you think is best) for sports fishermen. Didn't have to approach it the way I did. I still do strongly believe the regs we chose this year will result in by far a worse situation for sports fishermen and leave a ton of poundage in the water and would like more accountability, but I could of conveyed this better. Tight Lines and hope to see you at the next SFAC meeting (know I'm in Salt Lake when the Nanaimo one is)
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
    trophywife likes this.
  8. calmsea

    calmsea Well-Known Member

    If that is your level of involvement to get the 85/15 overturned this year, Serengeti, then don't be surprised about next year's halibut season. Another 30% of quota drop is very possible.

    After witnessing these discussions and the ongoing struggle of the Rec Sector to get organized for several years now I must say that I am not surprised anymore how many European countries ended up with privately managed sportfisheries. There, the few passionate and involved fishermen (through clubs, associations or private land owners) own the licence and fishing rights for their stretch of water and boy are these waters well managed! But, of course, not everyone can readily access these fisheries; some of these entities choose not to give out guest licences or some demand horrendous fees for day/week licences. But typically the fish populations and the environment of these waters are well managed, from what I have encountered in several different countries. Since the Europeans are typically a few years ahead of us in terms of evolution, maybe this will turn out to be the only workable model for keeping Rec Fisheries well managed and looked after. Then, the few that care and put the time in actually get the reward of having access to the well managed fish stocks and waters; the ones who chose to not get involved have the option to pay hefty fees to participate in fisheries that others have built and cared for. I used to see this as an elitist system but more and more I think it may actually be more fair to the ones who work so hard to get it right and it seems to be better for the fish and environment as well.
    Fishtofino likes this.
  9. Fish Camp

    Fish Camp Well-Known Member

    I feel for some of the halibut sportfishing guides.As compansation for self employed they are offered 200-300$ per day and must suppy there own fishing gear and lures.Some of the jigs the guide prefer for halubut are 30$ and lost as soon as the dude drops to bottom.If the guide has 3 dudes jerk fishing the guide might out of jigs and a days pay (witch he has to pay tax on )in just a couple hours and may not have a halubut to qualify under new rules.Then the guides will be asking themselfves why do I want to fish this halubut for release on big bad barbed trebled hooks.
  10. Tips Up

    Tips Up Well-Known Member

    As I stated earlier I respect that the Boards are doing the best they can with what we have been given.

    Still comes down to Allocation and resolving this issue is the only way to move forward.

    Who and how do we Rec Fisherman support this fight?
    What groups are addressing this issue directly and how can we help.

    The current meetings and decisions discussed here all look to be about the regs for this year with our shitty 15%.

    I would like to support the bigger picture and know that we don't just move on after regs are put in place and season opens for this year.
    This subject seems to only come up at this time each year and then falls to the side line until we are in the worse position next year.
    Then we bitch again but nothing has been done to change the Allocation.

    We need to challenge this Experimental Quota system. It is illegal privatization being funded my my Tax Dollars.
  11. calmsea

    calmsea Well-Known Member

    I'd start with hitting up the reps for the few advisory groups we have. They have to feel the pressure to stick their heads together and organize the fight. Ideally, they would form a combined coast wide task force to tackle this. But don't be surprised if they ask you to be on a committee yourself!
  12. Tips Up

    Tips Up Well-Known Member

    Can you supply me with a list of Advisory Groups and contacts for Victoria area? Or advise where I can find this information please.
  13. Jencourt

    Jencourt Well-Known Member

    It is not in the ability or structure of the SFAB/AC to get involved in any official status regarding political lobbying or legal challenges. If you are in the Vic area I would suggest that SVAC and BCWF are best choices to invest time and money into. As said in previous posts It will be them along with SFI and WCFGA that will form a working plan and require assistance in both forms I am sure.

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
    Cuba Libre likes this.
  14. profisher

    profisher Well-Known Member

    SVIAC will have a both once again at the Victoria Boat Show next weekend. Memeberships will be available and cost $40.00 for individuals and businesses can support us by becoming a corporate sponsor for $500. We have a goal to reach 2000 members which would give us $80,000 each year to do the work and more that Tips has mentioned. ( try to work with all the existing groups for a single unified voice) Our membership dues are what pays for this kind of work. The proceeds from the JDF Derby that SVIAC hosts are directed towards the Sooke Chinook Sea Pen Project. Tickets for this years derby will also be available at our boat show booth.
    Cuba Libre likes this.
  15. The Jackel

    The Jackel Well-Known Member

    Serengeti, will you please take your nose out of my ass :) JUST KIDDING. Good to see you, me and everyone else on this site are all trying to work this out for the better, sure a lot of us are unhappy but at the end of the day we can still fish for these creatures of the deep. Hopefully more TAC comes our way and we can continue to do so. Carry on gents and keep up the good work. Sorry if i have not been of too much help but with a sick wife i have no time for much these days, except of course to come on this thread and stir it up a wee bit. :rolleyes:
    SerengetiGuide likes this.
  16. chris73

    chris73 Well-Known Member

    Well, Jackel, just send SVIAC a big fat check and all will be good! :)
  17. Fishtofino

    Fishtofino Well-Known Member

    Thanks to Searun and the other volunteers that represent us all.

    I also wanted to bring up the need for every lodge and guide to be filling out log books. DFO can not make informed decisions without proper data. They used to get lots when there was a large salmon troll fleet but they aren't fishing much anymore.

    Us Tofino guides were faced with severe cutbacks starting around 2009 due to poor runs of our local Chinooks as well as the Fraser runs. Most of us have been on the program since then to prove we mostly intercepted hatchery raised Columbia and Robertson creek fish so we could keep fishing.

    Hopefully we can get better representation thru lobbying in Ottawa to get a larger percentage of the total TAC otherwise we will really have some even more difficult decisions next year
    big rock and The Jackel like this.
  18. Tips Up

    Tips Up Well-Known Member

    I'd love to see a SVIAC Booth or other at Boat Show with some clear signs about the 85/15 Allocation and educating people on this issue.
    As well as clearly explaining how we can help.
    I am not sure that I have seen a focused effort on this issue that I can support.
    This issue needs a concentrated effort and needs to happen now.

    The Experimental Program has gone too far and too long.

    More and more Guides and Lodges have given up and bought in.
    Now I believe many Rec fisherman are also.
    That's not going to solve our problem.
    ILHG, casper5280 and SerengetiGuide like this.
  19. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    150% agree. Looking at the data and listening to the Area 19 guys tell us they don't catch hali in June something is way out of whack. 900 fish in June and enough TAC to run a fishery coast wide for Feb - April is what 2017 Area 19 catch was. So if we aren't catching them there in June, then someone is not completing a log book to record they aren't! Every boat is counted on over-flights, and they are recorded against the halibut catch estimate unless the operator fills out a log book. The log book entries are DEDUCTED from the over-flight estimates.

    We can get a whole bunch of TAC back if we accurately recorded our catch in log books - that includes accurate measurements because a few cm adds up to 70,000 pounds in a hurry.

    If we all do our part, we can make a difference. Thanks Fishtofino for your insightful post. Let's do this guys. Same goes for DNA sampling - up to 70% of the fish we catch in some areas are thought to be hatchery origin - DNA will tell us that, and provide strong rationale to support marking all hatchery chinook so we can look at Marked Select Fisheries.
  20. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    In regards to measuring your halibut...don't measure on the top of the fish nose to tail fork... tape measure should be on the bottom flat side nose to tail or on a flat surface beside the fish... as sea run says it adds up fast ....
    casper5280 likes this.

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