Bycatches of halibut must be discarded if taken with other than hook-and-line gear or if taken when the directed fishery is closed. Similar restrictions apply to sablefish, although pots are a permitted gear in the Bering Sea.
Participants in the halibut fishery were heterogeneous. Although many vessels were specifically rigged for efficient longline operation, other vessels were jury-rigged for halibut fishing during the short open seasons. For example, salmon gillnetters could spool-off their nets and load longline gear on their gillnet drums for the short halibut open seasons. Many halibut fishermen were engaged in other (non-fishing) primary occupations and took leave to participate in the short seasons. Figure G.10 represents the percent average (1982-1995) real exvessel value of commercial catches off Alaska. Halibut and sablefish have accounted for 5% and 4%, respectively, of the $1.3 billion average exvessel value of Alaskan commercial catches.
Although halibut and sablefish together accounted for less than 10% of the average exvessel value of Alaskan fisheries, they are regionally significant. The 1991 distribution of halibut catches by the residency of the permit holder is represented in Figure G.11 (NPFMC, 1994a,b).
The problems and issues that led to consideration of an ITQ program for halibut and sablefish were allocation conflicts; gear conflicts; ghost fishing due to lost gear; bycatch loss in other fisheries; discard mortality for halibut, sablefish, and other retainable species in the halibut and sablefish fishery; excess harvesting capacity; product wholesomeness as reflected in real prices; safety; economic stability in the fishery and communities; and rural coastal community develop-