This condition, 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, we'd like fishers to submit information on the following:
- Date/location/depth of capture (e.g., bay, strait, direction and distance off a certain headland, etc.)
- Size and sex (if known) of fish
- Stomach contents - did you notice what types of food were in the stomach?
- Activity - sport, commercial, or subsistence fishing
- How many of the halibut you (or your vessel, if more appropriate) caught that day had the mushy halibut syndrome? How many did not?
- Disposition of the mushy halibut - did you keep the fish for your use, or discard the fish, either at sea or on shore?
- How many non-mushy halibut did you catch and how many did you release during the day you caught the mushy halibut?
We plan to share information on the occurrence of mushy halibut with other agencies, but all personal information will be kept confidential.
Additional information can be found at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/species/disease/pdfs/fishdiseases/mushy_halibut_syndrome.pdf
Thanks for your assistance!