This week IPHC also met for their Interim Meeting in Seattle. The recommended catch limits and a comparison of last years catch limits are here. The Commission has moved from the ‘Blue Line’ to a Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) this a reference of fishing intensity and ratio of spawning biomass compared to fishing levels. The 2017 catch limits equaled an SPR of 40% and the recommended 2018 catch limits would be an SPR of 46%. TCEY is Total Constant Exploitable Yield or total amount of halibut removals over 26” in length and FCEY is Fishery Constant Exploitable Yield or the amount of directed fisheries halibut.
The 2018 TCEY is a reduction of 24% from the catch limits adopted in 2017 and projections indicate that the target fishing intensity of SPR46 is likely to result in similar but declining biomass levels in the near future. The Halibut stock is predicted to decrease gradually from 2018-2020 under removals similar to SPR46. The risk of stock declines increases rapidly for TCEYs above 31 million pounds, and is more pronounced by 2020. TCEYs similar to the higher recent years catch limits correspond to a probability of 95% of stock decline over the next one to three years. The Commission does not consider the halibut stock to be overfished.
The 2017 coastwide setline survey saw a 10% drop in Weight Per Unit of Effort (WPUE) of legal O32 fish from 2016. The setline Numbers Per Unit of Effort (NPUE) showed a 24% decrease coastwide from 2016 also. The commercial fishery WPUE was up 5% at the coastwide level, but is lowered by the biased correction for late log books to 3%.