New halibut limits unpopular

  • Mar. 11, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Strict new halibut limits will come into effect April 1, to the dismay of local fishermen. “People are not happy about it,” said Sport Fishing Advisory Board member Urs Thomas. The daily limit for halibut will now be one fish, with a possession limit of two, only one of which may be greater than 83 centimetres. The biggest change is the brand-new annual limit of six halibut, which need to be recorded on the fishing license. Masset resident Kirk Thorgeirson, who has lived and fished on the islands all his life, said he was dismayed when he saw the changes. “The halibut are getting less and less for everybody,” he said, “but we seem to be getting the worst of it.” Mr. Thorgeirson believes that including the sports fishing lodges in the recreational quota is unfair to islanders. “The people who live here are paying for the people staying at the lodges playing.” (Mr. Thorgeirson has a letter to the editor on the subject on page 7). The halibut stock has been declining for the last ten years, said the fisheries notice explaining the changes, resulting in significant decreases in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), set by the International Halibut Commission, which oversees the west coast of Canada and the US. The TAC for 2003 was 74.9 million pounds, and is down to less than half that, 31.0 million pounds this year. Canada’s portion is 7.04 million pounds and the recreational allotment of that portion is 1.08 million pounds. Mr. Thomas said the changes are based on suggestions made by the SFAB and were democratically decided by the board, but that it was not his favourite option. “The final decision is still the DFO’s,” said Mr. Thomas, “we’re still just an advisory board.” There will be a meeting of the local Sports Fishing Board in Port Clements at the multi- purpose complex at 7 pm on Monday March 25 to discuss recreational fishing issues, said Mr. Thomas.