WDFW to hold local meeting on 2018 halibut season

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting locally to discuss management options for the 2018 halibut season.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, on Thursday Oct. 12, at Montesano City Hall.

State halibut managers will provide an overview of options under consideration by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council for recreational and commercial fisheries during next year’s 2018 fishing season.

will then invite public comments on those options and consider that input in developing recommendations to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council before the federally established council meets in November.

“All of these options are based on suggestions made by anglers to improve the state’s halibut fishery,” said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for WDFW. “We know there is a lot of interest in upcoming halibut seasons, and we encourage the public to participate in this meeting.”

Reed said one key option under consideration is to structure the state’s recreational halibut fisheries on the north coast, south coast and Puget Sound marine areas around common dates, as was done this year.

Within that structure, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council has proposed two new options:

  • Maintain area-specific quotas where those waters would remain open to halibut fishing until their quotas are reached.
  • Manage the first four days of the season under a shared quota, then distribute any remaining quota to each area according to its established allocation. Additional fisheries for each area would then depend on whether there is sufficient quota to support them.

Other options under consideration include:

  • Establishing an annual catch limit of two to six fish for individual anglers.
  • Change the days of the week the Columbia River all-depth fishery is open to allow anglers to fish Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
  • Lower the cap on the amount of halibut allocated to the commercial sablefish fishery, which incidentally harvests halibut while targeting sablefish. This option would be in effect when the overall quota for Washington, Oregon and California is less than 1.5 million pounds.

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