IFQ Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries

The Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program was adopted by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under Amendment 15 to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Fishery Management Plan and Amendment 20 to the Gulf of Alaska Fishery Management Plan in October 1992. NMFS published a proposed rule and analysis to implement Amendments 20/15 on December 3, 1992. The final rule was published on November 9, 1993. The primary objectives of the Alaska Halibut and Sablefish IFQ Program are to: (1) eliminate gear conflicts; (2) address safety concerns; and (3) improve product quality.

Participation in the IFQ Program is limited to persons that hold Quota Share (QS), although there are several very limited provisions for “leasing” of annual IFQ.  QS is a transferable permit that was initially issued to persons who owned or leased vessels that made legal commercial fixed-gear landings of Pacific halibut or sablefish in the waters off Alaska during 1988-1990.

Annually, NMFS issues eligible QS holders an IFQ fishing permit that authorizes participation in the IFQ fisheries. Those to whom IFQ permits are issued may harvest their annual allocation at any time during the eight plus-month IFQ halibut and sablefish seasons

The IFQ program is a complex management program authorized by federal regulations at 50 CFR Part 679.

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