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Fish & Game release 2009 halibut estimates and 2010 projections

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish has released its final estimates of Pacific halibut harvest by sport anglers in 2009.

A press release states sport harvest in Area 2C, which encompasses all of Southeast Alaska south of Cape Spencer, was 119,151 fish. ADF&G statewide bottomfish coordinator Scott Meyer said this translates to 2,368 million pounds. That number is also reported in the release.

Meyer said these numbers reflect both charter and private, or unguided, fishing.

"The harvest basically climbed pretty steadily and reached a peak in 2008 at 3.3 million pounds, and then dropped in 2009," said Meyer.

He said this drop was mostly in the charter harvest due to the one-fish bag limit imposed on charter halibut fishing in 2009. He said there was a smaller drop in the private harvest, whose bag limit remains at two fish per day.

"In 2010 we basically saw the charter harvest continue to reduce but the average weight went up, so when you put that together with the private harvest the average weight estimates are good," he said.

The 2009 halibut harvest in Area 3A, from Cape Spencer to the southern tip of Kodiak Island, was 317,804 fish, or 4.758 million pounds.

The release states the sport harvest in areas west of Area 3A were fairly small, totaling 3,300 fish.

The 2010 sport harvest projection is 120,448 fish, or 2.548 million pounds, for Area 2C. Area 3A's projection is 354,098 fish, or 5.068 million pounds, in Area 3A, plus 4,679 fish in areas west of 3A.

These estimates are also sent to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Areas 2C and 3A encompass the majority of the sport harvest in Alaska.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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