International Pacific Halibut Commission Interim Meeting 2012

And Preliminary Staff Harvest Advice


The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) conducted its Interim Meeting in its Seattle offices on November 28 and 29, 2012.  The Interim Meeting IPHC staff presentations and copies of the webcasts are posted on the Commission's website at


The 2012 Stock Assessment


During 2012, the assessment staff at the IPHC conducted a full review of the data, specific model equations, and general approach used to assess the stock in recent years.  The retrospective bias seen in recent assessments was found to be a direct result of transient overestimation of incoming recruitment.  This arose because the model did not correctly reflect variation in the availability of different sizes of fish in different areas.  With the agreement of two external scientific reviewers, a more flexible model structure was adopted to address this problem and correct the retrospective bias. The assessment model results are now more consistent with observed fishery and survey results.  As a result of changes to the assessment model, estimates of recent recruitment are much lower than previously thought.

Quota Share Commercial Fisheries Update

The 2012 quota share halibut fisheries opened on March 17. It is estimated that the following catches and numbers of landings were made in the Alaskan IFQ and CDQ fisheries through October 14, 2012 and in the British Columbian IVQ fishery through October 13, 2012.



The International Pacific Halibut Commission has adopted several changes to the schedule and format for its Interim and Annual Meetings. The Commission developed these changes in response to recommendations from the 2012 Performance Review and using input from stakeholders across the halibut community. They are designed to improve the workings of the Commission by making its meetings and deliberations more open and transparent to the public. The new meeting formats will be used for the 2012 Interim Meeting and the 2013 Annual Meeting, after which they will be re-evaluated with stakeholder input to make further improvements for the next meeting cycle. The primary changes are noted in the following meeting announcements.

Commission Seeks Regulations Proposals

The Commission invites the public to submit requests for 2013 regulatory changes (season length, logbook reporting measures, landing requirements, etc.) or management actions for review at the Annual Meeting to be held January 22-25, 2013 in Victoria, B.C. The deadline date for submission is November 2, 2012. The Commission will not guarantee consideration of proposals received after this date.

The Commission will distribute a brief summary of stock assessment information and catch limit options following the Interim Meeting. This information should be posted on the Commission's web page at by December 1, 2012. Comments on 2013 catch limit changes should be submitted to the Commission by December 30, 2012.

The regulations proposal form and catch limit comment form can be located at or by calling the IPHC office at (206) 634-1838. A summary of all proposals will be posted on the IPHC web site when available.

The Commission's web site will be updated regularly with new information as the meeting date approaches. The 2013 IPHC Annual Meeting Schedule of Sessions and the list of corresponding meeting rooms will be released in December, 2012.

Estimated harvests from the August 3-4 and 17-18 all-depth Central Oregon sport halibut fishery openings, together with an overage from the nearshore (<40 fathom) fishery, has resulted in about 4,800 pounds remaining to be caught in the Central Oregon subarea. This amount is insufficient for any further openings in 2012 for the all-depth fishery. Therefore, the Central Coast all-depth sport halibut fishery is closed for the remainder of 2012.

Commission Seeks Information on Mushy Halibut Syndrome

A condition of halibut flesh, which has been variously described as mushy or jelly-like, has become more frequently reported by recreational halibut fishers in certain parts of southcentral Alaska, especially in 2011 and 2012. This is not a new phenomenon, with observations being noted as early as 1989. Recent analyses of flesh samples by the State of Alaska's Fish Pathology Lab noted that fish with the condition have large areas of body tissue which are flaccid or jelly-like. The fillets may ooze water and are mushy when cooked. While the cause of the condition is unknown, it is thought to be the result of nutritional deficiencies.

The IPHC is interested in learning about the geographical and seasonal occurrence of the mushy condition in Pacific halibut. To accomplish this, halibut stakeholders are invited to submit information on captured mushy halibut through a new Mushy Halibut Syndrome web page: