Project aims to improve release techniques for sport-caught halibut

"Every Halibut Counts" will offer best practices for gentle release



NR: SG-2013/NR249

halibut fishing Photo by Dave Brenner, Alaska Sea Grant. Click image for larger version [2231 x 1875 px; 228 KB].

Anchorage, Alaska—A new collaborative project called "Every Halibut Counts" aims to increase the survival rate of Pacific halibut caught and released in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska sport fisheries.

Project leaders will use local knowledge and scientific expertise to develop best practices for careful handling and release of sport-caught halibut. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and the charter industry are partners on the project.

Currently, halibut sport fishermen have no source of information for the most appropriate release techniques. With halibut stocks in decline in Alaska, the project supports conservation of Alaska's halibut resource at an important time.

"The charter operators on our steering committee are recommending measures they have found to be effective yet impose minimal extra burden in terms of expense and crew time," said Terry Johnson, ASG MAP marine recreation specialist.

Printed materials, video and training, and a website with information on recommended halibut release methods will be available in spring 2014.

The project is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of its Fisheries Innovation Fund, which began in 2010. The goal of the fund is to rebuild fish stocks while sustaining fishermen.

Alaska Sea Grant is a statewide marine research, education, and extension program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program provides outreach and technical assistance to help Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy marine and coastal resources. Alaska Sea Grant is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and by the University of Alaska Fairbanks with state funds, in partnership with private industry.