Commercial longliners in Alaska can go fishing on March 11 after all. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Friday. March 3 that March 11th will be the start date for halibut and black cod fishing.
March 11th is the halibut fishing start date approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission back in January. The National Marine Fisheries Service typically opens long-line fishing for black cod on the same day.
President Trump issued an executive order in January requiring that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination. The start dates, catch share plan and other changes are all regulations that need to be published in the federal register. As of late last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service was still unsure of the impact of the presidential order on the fisheries. Fishermen in Alaska were questioning whether they’d be able to start fishing on that date.
However, the federal agency confirmed Friday that the season would be starting on the 11th for both halibut and black cod.
“The executive order really in the end didn’t end up delaying the opening of the season dates this year,” said Rachel Baker, a fishery management specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ Alaska Region. “We had to work a little more extensively with folks back in NMFS headquarters and up the chain in NOAA and the Department of Commerce just to really stress the importance of getting the halibut management measures through the regulatory process to allow the season to open on time.”
March 11th is a little earlier start date than other years. The season runs through November 7th.
Baker says the actual regulations for commercial and charter fishing for halibut will be published in the Federal Register on Monday.
For the first year, longline pot gear is allowed for commercial black cod in the Gulf of Alaska this year. Crews fishing for black cod with Individual Fishing Quota for halibut are required to keep those fish as well.