Halibut quota unchanged

Halibut fishery opens March 1.

  • Feb. 24, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea will stay the course on controversial halibut allocations in 2011, but is willing to try something new. “The 2011 Pacific halibut recreational fishing season will open March 1st,” announced Shea in a press release Feb. 15. “Recreational anglers with a tidal license will be able to catch one halibut per day with two in possession.”That was already the regulation for fishing halibut, but Shea has also introduced a pilot project for this season. “Our Government recognizes the value of the recreational fishery to British Columbians and the economic opportunities it provides. Therefore, for the 2011 season only, we will undertake a trial to make available to interested recreational stakeholders experimental licenses that will allow them to lease quota from commercial harvesters,” said Shea “This will provide access to halibut beyond the limits of the standard recreational license, giving those who choose to participate greater stability for business planning purposes.”The controversy stems from an allocation formula sent in 2003 that grants 88 per cent of the halibut harvest to commercial fishermen and 12 per cent to recreational fishermen. However, fishing lodges, resorts and charter companies have been lobbying to increase the recreational portion. With a current low in the halibut cycle, these business owners fear the 12 per cent would be harvested by mid-summer, negatively impacting their businesses. “The most recent round of discussions took place throughout 2010,” said Shea. “I’m disappointed to report that those discussions have reached an impasse and stakeholders have been unable to reach a consensus.”Shea has not given up however and has laid out a plan to develop and consider options for the 2012 season. “Many stakeholders from both sectors have clearly articulated their current positions, but I encourage continued dialogue about new approaches between interested parties and my officials,” said Shea. “The sooner a permanent solution is found, the sooner British Columbians can put uncertainty behind them and look forward to a viable future for this fishery.”For more information on the trial fishery see www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/statement-declarations/2011/20110115c-eng.htm