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NOAA sets official start date for Alaska halibut season

With quota slightly higher than last year, harvesters hope to bring more volume into the market.

NOAA Fisheries on Thursday officially announced the opening date of the Pacific halibut season in Alaska waters.

Pacific halibut quota increased for 2019 season

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The starting date, adopted last month by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), were published in a final rule in the US Federal Register.

Under the terms of the IPHC agreement, the US will receive an 82.3 percent share of the 2019 catch of 29.4 million pounds, or 23.5 million pounds for U.S. fishermen, an 8.2 percent increase from last year.

"While the overall quota for 2019 is a slight increase over 2018, the catch limits agreed to at the meeting reflect a sensible, conservative approach that will secure the future of this iconic and economically important species," Chris Oliver, administrator for NOAA Fisheries and US Commissioner to the IPHC said of the results.

Alaska's total halibut catch was set at 22.0 million pounds, up nearly 1.5 million pounds from 2018. There was an increase in allocations in all areas except 3B (western Gulf of Alaska).

Alaska commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut season runs through November 14 for all IPHC management areas in Alaska.

Sablefish (black cod) harvesting also begins on March 15.

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