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New federal rule lowers halibut bycatch limits in Alaska

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published January 20, 2016

A new measure that aims to reduce halibut bycatch in four sectors of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries has been approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Proposed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the rule reduces bycatch limits across four sectors, equating to overall reduction in the halibut bycatch limit by 21 percent, to 3,515 metric tons, in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area.

The change is anticipated to reduce the actual amount of halibut bycatch in this area by approximately 361 metric tons compared to 2014, according to a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries on Tuesday.

In recent decades, Pacific halibut stocks have been in decline. To add to that issue, groundfish fisheries often encounter halibut while trying to catch other species such as pollock and yellowfin sole, NOAA said.

The council proposed the change in response to declining commercial catch limits for the commercial halibut fishery, according to the release.

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