New sports fishing rules enforced to protect the Alaska halibut

If you were thinking of traveling to Alaska in pursuit of your sports fishing passion and the famous halibut, the new fishing rules might upset you. But it’s all for a good cause! In order to protect the always decreasing stocks of halibut, all sports fishermen on charter boats fishing in southeast Alaska will be limited to one such fish each.

The new rule of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service is not exactly their idea, they are just adhering to guidelines established by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the U.S.-Canada group overseeing halibut fishing in the North Pacific Ocean.

The number of fish caught is not the only restriction. Each halibut caught by sports fishermen must be 37 inches or smaller. This is an addition to last year’s restrictions which referred strictly to quantity, not size.

“They’re declining. Fewer fish are reaching catchable size,” Julie Speegle, spokeswoman for NOAA in Alaska, said.

While reducing the overall sport catch, the new size rule will also help preserve the fish with the best reproductive success, she explained, as “the larger female halibut provide more eggs than the smaller female halibut.”

While sports and leisure fishermen are the only ones affected by this particular rule, halibut catch is also restricted for commercial fishermen – they’re allowed a total catch 19% lower than last year, with a 47% reduction for southeast Alaska.

The new rule is far from being popular in the charter and tourism industries, as one activity that spiked the interest of fishing-enthusiast travelers have been drastically reduced. But preserving a species that’s decreasing in numbers is far more important than entertaining tourists.
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