Halibut Abundance-based Management
Since 2008, strict regulations to limit halibut bycatch, including caps, have been imposed on fishermen harvesting in Amendment 80 fisheries. In response, Groundfish Forum members have worked diligently and implemented several innovative tools to reduce our halibut bycatch by 49%. Our current halibut bycatch is very low at only 0.4% of the total catch, far lower that the bycatch rate of the West Coast Canadian groundfish fishery, which is often held up as an example of low bycatch rates. We are committed to continued halibut bycatch reduction, but with halibut bycatch already so low, future efforts will likely result in small incremental improvements.
Since 2016, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has been working on abundance-based management (ABM) measures to further reduce halibut bycatch in the Amendment 80 fisheries in order to remedy low quotas in the directed halibut fishery. However, current alternatives considered by the Council will not benefit the directed halibut fishery and will come at a great expense to the A80 fisheries:
Lower Halibut Bycatch Will Not Improve Halibut Stocks or Yield Conservation Benefits. Five years of Council scientific analysis clearly show that halibut bycatch is not the cause, nor will it remedy, catch limit declines in the halibut fishery. 
Current Council Alternatives Would Impose Significant Economic Cost. If the Council adopts any of the current Halibut ABM alternatives, the result would be an additional $60 to $120 million loss to our fleet annually and millions in losses to the State of Alaska. According to Council economists, this bycatch reduction would increase the value of the halibut fishery by only $1 to $2 million.
A80 Crew Disproportionately Affected. A comparison of the effects of Halibut ABM Alternative 2, 3 or 4 shows that an average halibut crew position would make an additional $435 to $871 per season. The same alternatives result in an average flatfish crew position losing $20,884 to $42,118 per season.
Significant Loss of Food Production. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that fisheries be managed to maximize the benefits of food production from the Nation’s fishery resources. Using production estimates from 2016 – 2020, the current Halibut ABM Alternatives would result in an average of 132 sole, mackerel and flounder meals being lost for every 1 halibut meal gained.
For more information see our Halibut ABM FAQ.
 Initial Review Draft Environmental Impact Statement of BSAI Halibut Abundance-Based Management of PSC Limits, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, pp. 174, 196, & 205, March 2021 and NPFMC Economic SAFE for the Bering Sea, Aleutian Island, Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Fisheries, p. 251, January 2021.
 Groundfish Forum Comments to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, April 2021, based a 4-ounce portion per meal.
 Initial Review Draft Environmental Impact Statement of BSAI Halibut Abundance-Based Management of PSC Limits, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, p. 21, March 2021.
 Ibid. Analysis based on median values of Halibut ABM Alternatives 2, 3 and 4, pp 195 and 205.