Sport Halibut Fishing in Alaska

Sport fishing regulations for Pacific halibut in Alaska are developed on the international, federal, and state levels by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

Halibut and salmon are the major sport fish species in Alaska. NMFS' recreational fisheries regulatory authority is limited to Pacific halibut. ADF&G does not have authority to manage halibut, but manages most of Alaska's recreational fisheries and has adopted some regulations that affect sport fishing for halibut.

Unguided Sport Halibut Fishing

  • Regulation Summary (for unguided anglers in Areas 2C and 3A, and all anglers elsewhere)
  • Regulations for waters in and off Alaska are stated in the IPHC's 2019 annual management measures (See Sections 26. "Sport Fishing for Halibut—General" and 29. "Sport Fishing for Halibut" for season dates, gear and possession information, and bag limits for most areas) 
  • IPHC Regulatory Areas Map 

Guided Sport Halibut Fishing in Areas 2C and 3A

IPHC Areas 2C and 3A

Regulations for the guided sport (charter) halibut fishery in Alaska are determined annually by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the International Pacific Halibut Commission. NMFS publishes these regulations each year as part of the IPHC Annual Management Measures.

Guided Sport Halibut Fishing in Areas 3B and 4A-E

For guided sport (charter) anglers in all IPHC regulatory areas except Areas 2C and 3A, the regulations are the same as for unguided anglers.

Sport Fishing for Halibut under the Guided Angler Fish (GAF) Program

Effective January 13, 2014 the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) authorizes annual transfers of commercial halibut IFQ as guided angler fish (GAF) to charter halibut permit holders for harvest in the charter halibut fishery. GAF offers charter halibut permit holders in Area 2C or Area 3A an opportunity to lease a limited amount of IFQ from commercial quota share (QS) holders to allow charter clients to harvest halibut in addition to, or instead of, the halibut harvested under the daily bag limit for charter anglers. Charter anglers using GAF are subject to the harvest limits in place for unguided sport anglers in that area. Currently, there is a two-fish of any size daily bag limit for unguided sport anglers in Areas 2C and 3A. GAF harvested in the charter halibut fishery will be accounted for as commercial halibut IFQ harvest.

Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan

  • Overview of the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan for Area 2C and Area 3A
  • Final rule to implement a catch sharing plan for the guided sport (charter) and commercial fisheries for Pacific halibut in waters of IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. This catch sharing plan replaces the Guideline Harvest Level program, defines an annual process for allocating halibut between the charter and commercial fisheries in Area 2C and Area 3A, and establishes allocations for each fishery. The commercial fishery will continue to be managed under the Individual Fishing Quota system. Effective January 13, 2014.

Charter Halibut Limited Access Program

Successful sport halibut fishermen, Juneau, Alaska. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

The Charter Halibut Limited Access Program established new federal Charter Halibut Permits (CHPs) for operators in the charter halibut fishery in regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska). Since February 1, 2011, all charter halibut vessel operators in Areas 2C and 3A with clients onboard must have a valid CHP onboard during every charter vessel fishing trip.

Resources for Charter Halibut Permit Holders

Additional Information

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