Every Halibut Counts Program
Every Halibut Counts is a program created by marine advisory program at UAF Sea Grant Alaska. There are some fascinating facts about Alaska halibut related to sustainability and catch-and-release mortality. We’re proud to adhere to the great work these folks have done to preserve this amazing fishery so that we’ve got monstrous and plentiful halibut for generations to come.
Best Practices for Carefully Releasing Sport-Caught Halibut
About 50% of all the halibut caught in Alaska’s waters are released for one reason or another. There is a wide variety of reasons for this:
- Fish doesn’t match the regulatory size restrictions. Such as it’s too big or too small
- Not allowed to retain halibut on Wednesdays. Sometimes we catch them while targeting rockfish and they have to be released
- Anglers would like a shot at a larger halibut
Whatever the reason there is really great news. With proper care, handling, and release techniques the survival rate on these fish can be extremely high!
There are a number of things we can do to help fish survive catch-and-release.
- Minimize handling of fish and release it gently
- If possible, unhook any fish intended for release without removing the fish from the water
- Never lift a fish solely by the tail
- Use circle hooks which release easier and are not swallowed as deeply
It’s estimated that approximately 6% of all released halibut do not survive. With nearly 50% of the caught halibut being released for one reason or another, this 6% is a high number of fish not surviving. We’re happy to follow these best practices to help keep this fishery as healthy and productive as possible.
If you’d like more information about The Every Halibut Counts Program as as well so additional information about halibut in general, check out the Alaska Department of Fish And Game article regarding every halibut counts.