The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), originally called the International Fisheries Commission, was established in 1923 by a Convention between the governments of Canada and the United States of America. Its mandate is research on and management of the stocks of Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) within the Convention waters of both nations. The IPHC consists of three government-appointed commissioners for each country who serve their terms at the pleasure of the President of the United States and the Canadian government respectively.
The IPHC, an International Fisheries Organization, receives monies from both the U.S. and Canadian governments to support a Director and staff. Annually, the IPHC meets to conduct the business of the Commission. At this annual meeting the budgets, research plans, biomass estimates, catch recommendations, as well as regulatory proposals are discussed and approved then forwarded to the respective governments for implementation. The IPHC staff and offices are currently located in Seattle, Washington.
The IPHC is considered a public international organization and is entitled to the privileges, exemptions, and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. Sec. 288), except those pursuant to Sections 4(b), 4(e), and 5 (a) of that Act by virtue of U.S. Presidential Executive Order 11059. In 1987, the IPHC was granted 503(c) status as a not-for-profit organization and is considered part of the U.S. Federal government for purchasing and travel.
The IPHC conducts numerous projects annually to support both major mandates: stock assessment and basic halibut biology. Current projects include standardized stock assessment fishing surveys from northern California to the end of the Aleutian Islands, as well as field sampling in major fishing ports to collect scientific information from the halibut fleet. In conjunction with these ongoing programs, the IPHC conducts numerous biological and scientific experiments to further the understanding and information about Pacific halibut.
The Commission encourages public participation in the management of the resource and regularly seeks advice from its advisory bodies and various State, Provincial, and Federal agencies. The Commission's advisory bodies include the Conference Board, the Processor Advisory Group, the Research Advisory Board, the Management Strategy Advisory Board, and the Scientific Review Board.
The Conference Board is a panel representing Canadian and American commercial and sport halibut fishers. Created in 1931 by the Commission, the Board gives the IPHC the fishers' perspective on Commission proposals presented at Annual Meetings in January. Members are designated by union and vessel owner organizations from both nations.
The Processor Advisory Group (PAG), as the name suggests, represents halibut processors. Like the Conference Board, PAG lends its opinion regarding Commission proposals and offers recommendations at IPHC Annual Meetings. The group was formed in 1996.
The Research Advisory Board (RAB), which formed in 1999, consists of both fishers and processors who offer suggestions to the Director and staff on where Commission research should focus. RAB generally meets in November, prior to the IPHC Interim Meeting.
The Management Strategy Advisory Board (MSAB) is a panel formed of harvesters, fisheries managers, processors, Staff, Commissioners, science advisors, and academics created in 2013 to oversee and advise the Staff on the IPHC’s Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE). MSE is an ongoing process to define fishery objectives, articulate and examine management procedures, and define performance measures in order to recommend fishery management measures for Commission consideration.
The Scientific Review Board (SRB), a small group of fisheries science experts, was also formed in 2013. The SRB provides an independent scientific review of Commission science products and programs, and supports and strengthens the stock assessment process.