Current Perceived Issues. The most controversial aspect of the wreckfish program is the fact that landings have decreased and are less than 25% of the TAC. This had led to some concern by non-IFQ holders that the fishery is not being fully utilized and that quota holders are unfairly excluding others from responsibly harvesting an available resource. The counterargument is that the wreckfish fishery is one for which the population parameters are largely unknown, wreckfish are a long-lived species subject to potential overexploitation, and any shortfall of actual landings below the TAC benefits the wreckfish population and future harvests.

Alaskan Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries7

Fisheries for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) occur off the coast of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. Development of large-scale commercial fisheries for halibut8 was stimulated by the completion of transcontinental railroads in the late 1880s. The directed fishery for halibut uses longline gear. The directed fishery for sablefish uses longline, pot, and trawl gear. Most vessels engaged in these fisheries are catcher vessels, but there are a few catcher-processor vessels in the halibut fishery and a larger number in the sablefish fishery. Vessels engaged in the U.S. fishery are based primarily in the Pacific Northwest region and Alaska.

Prior Regulatory Conditions in the Fishery

Canada and the United States negotiated the Halibut Treaty of 1923 and established what came to be called the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) to investigate the halibut resource and recommend conservation measures to be implemented by the signatories. With passage of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act, limited entry and allocation decisions for U.S. waters were delegated to the North Pacific and Pacific Fishery Management Councils. Fishermen from each country have been excluded from the waters of the other since 1978. Annual limits on commercial catches of halibut are set for a number of subareas of the region by the IPHC. Commercial catches have historically been controlled through a combination of area, season, and gear restrictions, with amounts of harvest being allocated to particular gear types in particular areas and times. Halibut landings data are collected by the states of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and by the Canadian government and forwarded to the IPHC. Sablefish catch data are collected by the individual states and NMFS. Both fisheries have had various logbook requirements.


See Appendix G for a more thorough review.


Pacific halibut was an important component of trade among the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest, with fishing removals comparable to modern commercial harvests and trade routes extending hundreds of miles inland (Bay-Hansen, 1991; Newell, 1993).

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