The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced that the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close Wednesday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m. for the remainder of 2021. Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2021 California recreational quota of 39,260 net pounds will be exceeded unless the fishery is closed.
The quota amount is determined annually through an international process and is largely driven by results from the annual stock assessment conducted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). CDFW monitors the progress of the fishery each year in an effort to prevent catch from exceeding the California quota. CDFW field staff sample public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut throughout the season, along with other marine sportfish species.
Similar to the hot Pacific halibut bite observed in 2020, the 2021 season has proven to be very successful. During the second half of June 2021, CDFW field staff recorded a very high number of Pacific halibut being caught.
“The combination of great weather and fish on the bite means many anglers found success. We’ve heard reports of some anglers catching their limits by 8 a.m.,” said Melanie Parker, Environmental Scientist with CDFW’s Marine Region. “Since a significant number of fish were caught in such a short period of time, the quota was reached very quickly.”
Using this information, CDFW conferred with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the IPHC and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to review projected catch amounts and to determine that the 2021 quota will be exceeded unless the fishery is closed. Formal authority to close the fishery resides with NMFS, which took action to close the fishery following consultation with CDFW.
Pacific halibut are a different species than California halibut, and occupy a large geographic range, from the Aleutian Islands eastward through Alaska to British Columbia and throughout ocean waters of the Pacific Northwest. Along the West Coast, Pacific halibut are commonly found as far south as Point Arena in Mendocino County.
For current information about the Pacific halibut fishery, science, or management, please check the following resources:
NMFS Hotline, (800) 662-9825
CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline, (831) 649-2801
CDFW’s Pacific Halibut web page