The purpose of the Recreational Halibut Advisory Group is to provide input to WDFW on season structure and management measures that will provide recreational opportunity that is in balance with federal harvest limits.
General Management Structure
There are different international, federal, and state agencies involved in the management of the Washington recreational halibut fishery with varying roles and responsibilities:
- International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC): Established by the Halibut Convention between the U.S. and Canada; governs the conservation and management of halibut throughout its range (i.e., in the Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to northern California); conducts an annual survey and stock assessment; sets the national quotas for each management area (the West Coast is managed as Area 2A); approves the Pacific Council's catch sharing plan and monitors quota attainment inseason.
- Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC): Established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Pacific halibut are not managed under a federal fishery management plan, but the sharing of the Area 2A quota is specified through the Pacific Council's Catch Sharing Plan. Routine changes to the plan relative to season structure and fishing regulations are considered annually through the Pacific Council process.
- National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS): Approves the recommendations from the Pacific Council and implements the catch sharing plan provisions in federal fishing regulations; monitors quota attainment for Area 2A, including inseason actions.
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW): Washington recreational halibut fisheries are managed by sub-area: South Coast (Marine Area 2); North Coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4); Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5-13); and the Columbia River (Marine Area 1), which extends to Cape Falcon, OR, and is jointly managed with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). WDFW works with stakeholders to identify, review, and discuss proposed changes to the catch sharing plan and fishing regulations; conducts angler interviews to estimate catch and collect halibut lengths to determine average weight; monitors quota attainment and coordinates with IPHC and NMFS (and ODFW for the Columbia River sub-area) regarding proposed inseason actions.
Halibut Management Timeline