While the state’s annual catch quota is the same as it was 2015, there will be changes for people fishing this year for halibut in Washington waters.
Again, the quota for recreational halibut fishing in Washington will be 214,110 pounds, according to an announcement Wednesday.
The growing popularity of recreational halibut fishing, however, will require adjustments in this year’s season, Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a news release.
“Here and elsewhere, fishery managers are working to keep pace with the growing demand on the resource,” Reed said in the release. “Strong catch rates continue to draw anglers to this popular fishery each year.”
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214,110 The number of pounds of halibut that can be caught in 2016 by recreational anglers fishing in state waters.
That increasing demand has led the halibut catch in Puget Sound to exceed the area harvest quota the past four years. To keep the fishery under the quota, this year’s season in Marine Areas 6-10 will be cut from 11 days last year to eight days.
The other major change this year is in Marine Areas 3 and 4, off La Push and Neah Bay. That fishery will be open only three days, then close for a catch assessment.
Reed said last year’s four-day season was cut short by one day because the quota was caught sooner than ever before, Reed said.
In all areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess two fish in any form and must record their catch on a catch record card.
There will be no halibut fishing in the South Sound and Hood Canal to protect declining stocks of rockfish.
2016 halibut seasons
Marine Area 5-10: May 7, 12, 13, 14, and May 26-29. The quota is 57,393 pounds for the season.
Marine Areas 11-13: The South Sound and Hood Canal will remain closed to protect threatened and endangered rockfish species.
Marine Area 1: Opens May 1 and runs Thursdays-Sundays until the subarea quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The nearshore area opens May 2 on a Mondays-Wednesdays schedule, which are the days the all-depth halibut fishery is closed. Coordinates for the nearshore fishery are available at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut. The all-depth quota is 10,509 pounds; the nearshore quota is 500 pounds.
Marine Area 2: Opens May 1 and is open Sundays and Tuesdays for three consecutive weeks, unless the quota is reached sooner. The primary fishery is closed May 22 and 24, but could reopen May 29 or 31 if sufficient quota remains. The northern nearshore area will open May 1 and continue seven days per week until Sept. 30, or until the nearshore quota is reached. The quota for the primary fishery is 40,739 pounds; the nearshore fishery quota is 2,000 pounds.
Marine areas 3-4: The fishery will be open May 7, May 12 and May 14, as long as there is sufficient quota. Both areas will be closed May 19 and 21. If there is available quota, the fishery will re-open May 26 and/or 28. Additional days (Thursdays and Saturdays) could be added, depending on the amount of quota available. The combined quota for both areas is 108,030 pounds.
Anglers can get complete information on recreational halibut regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut.