AM099 - Book your hotel room and register for the meeting now!

99th Session of the IPHC Annual Meeting (AM099)

23-27 January 2023

23rd: 12:30-17:30; 24th to 27th: 09:00-17:00 (PST)

Book your hotel room at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C. as soon as possible to receive special meeting rates. If attending either in-person or electronically, please make sure to register prior to the meeting.

Related Sessions

99th Session of the IPHC Finance and Administration Committee (FAC099)

23 January 2023

09:00-12:00 (PST)

28th Session of the IPHC Processor Advisory Board (PAB028) 

24-25 January 2023

24th: 13:30-17:00; 25th: 09:00-17:00

93rd Session of the IPHC Conference Board (CB093)

24-25 January 2023

24th: 13:30-17:00; 25th: 09:00-17:00

New IPHC HQ Team Members

Kevin Coll - Starting in January, the IPHC will be welcoming Kevin Coll to the FISS team as a Setline Survey Specialist (HQ). Kevin has worked for IPHC for five (5) FISS seasons as a Setline Survey Specialist (Field) in addition to working as a North Pacific Groundfish Observer for the past six (6) years. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California - Santa Cruz. Kevin will replace Colin Jones who has moved within the IPHC to the Biological and Ecosystem Sciences branch.

Lorissa Burkhalter - The IPHC is also excited that Lorissa Burkhalter recently joined our team as an Administrative Specialist. She is working as part of the Finance and Personnel Services Branch, providing meeting and event support, records management and handling matters regarding public contact, correspondence, and requests for information. Lorissa also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Culture, Literature, and the Arts. 

What's New at IPHC

This newsletter is the second in a quarterly series that highlights current IPHC activities, provides spotlight interviews with Secretariat members and industry professionals, and serves as a reminder for upcoming meetings and events. 

This fall, the Scientific Review Board, Management Strategy Advisory Board, and Research Advisory Board met and provided their detailed reports to the Commission. Read on to learn more. 

Meeting Season is Upon Us

The 98th Session of the IPHC Interim Meeting (IM098) took place 30 November - 1 December. Among the presentations were the annual stock assessment and harvest decision table, management strategy evaluation, 5-year Program of Integrated Research and Monitoring (2022-26), regulatory proposals for the 2023 season, and a look at budgets. The fishery-independent setline survey (FISS) design was discussed at length. If you were unable to attend, click the button below to access the meeting documents, recordings, and full report.

The Interim Meeting serves as a way for all involved to prepare for the IPHC Annual Meeting which will be held in Victoria, B.C., Canada, 23-27 January 2023. The link for the meeting page which contains meeting documents, registration, and hotel information, is at the top of this newsletter. If attending in person, be sure to book your hotel room at the Fairmont Empress now to receive the special meeting rate.

IM098 Meeting Page

IPHC at Pacific Marine Expo

In November, the IPHC had a booth at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, WA. This was a great opportunity for the Secretariat to engage with stakeholders in a relaxed atmosphere. On the top of many people's minds were catch rates and whale depredation.

With the new interactive display, Secretariat were able to show stakeholders around the IPHC website to help to answer their questions and take a look at some features of interest. Visitors to the booth were also invited to spin the wheel to score some IPHC "swag".

Fisheries Data Overview

The IPHC estimates all Pacific halibut removals taken in the IPHC Convention Area and uses this information in its yearly stock assessment and other analyses. The data included are collected by IPHC, state, federal, and provincial entities. The figure below is preliminary and shows the 2022 breakdown of mortality sources (except natural mortality) based on data collected through 7 December 2022.

Specifically, these categories include:

·      Directed commercial fisheries, including landings and discard mortality

·      Recreational fisheries, including landings and discard mortality

·      Subsistence fisheries

·      Non-directed commercial discard mortality (e.g. trawl, pot, longline)

·      IPHC Fishery-Independent Setline Survey (FISS) and other IPHC research

The full report prepared for IM098 with a detailed breakdown of mortality for each fishery can be found at the link below.

Fisheries Data Overview

Are you an IPHC Regulatory Area 2A harvester?

If you commercially or recreationally harvest Pacific halibut in IPHC Regulatory Area 2A, please note that beginning in 2023, permitting, setting of season dates, and setting of fishing period vessel catch limits will be administered by NOAA-Fisheries. The IPHC will continue to set overall harvest limits for each Regulatory Area. Note that there will be new permitting deadlines in 2023 that may be earlier than in previous years. Specifically: NOAA-Fisheries is requiring that permit applications be received by the following dates: (1) March 1 for incidental catch during the salmon troll fishery; (2) March 1 for incidental catch during the sablefish fishery; (3) February 15 for the directed commercial fishery; and (4) 15 days prior to participation in the recreational fishery for recreational charter vessels.

Information on the background for this change and the posting in the federal register of the change itself, can be found at the following links.

Background of Area 2A management shift
Federal Register posting

Trying out new management strategies in the virtual world

Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) is a process to evaluate management procedures (MP) to determine which ones meet defined objectives and are robust to uncertainty and variability. This process is particularly useful in resource management to try out new strategies virtually, negating the risk to the actual resource.

At IPHC, this process involves defining objectives, identifying management plans of interest, performing closed-loop simulations, evaluating the results, and finally applying a MP into practice. A big contributor to the process of recommending objectives at IPHC is the Management Strategy Advisory Board (MSAB) made up of industry and management representatives.

Results are in for the MSE Program of Work 2021-2023, including the impact of removing the size limit. In short, the removal of a size limit results in a 3.7% increase, on average, in the short-term median coastwide TCEY and a 2.7% increase, on average, in the long-term median coastwide TCEY.

Even though a gain in overall yield is likely, reducing the size limit for the directed commercial fishery would likely result in a decline in directed commercial landings of O32 Pacific halibut while U32 landings would likely increase, which is dependent on population characteristics such as incoming recruitment and size-at-age. 

More results for size limits and using empirical rules to set the TCEY in non-assessment years are described in the full report, which can be accessed via the link below. 

MSE Program of Work

Fishery Independent Setline Survey (FISS) Design

Decisions about which FISS stations to fish each year (out of a possible 1890 stations) are finalized by the Commission at the IPHC Interim Meeting. To get there, a set of guiding priorities are used by the Secretariat to build appropriate designs for the coming years. These guiding priorities in order of importance are: 1) Sample Pacific halibut for stock assessment and stock distribution estimation, 2) Long-term revenue neutrality, and 3) Minimize removals, and assist others where feasible on a cost-recovery basis.

Throughout the year leading up to selection, design options are presented for comment to the Scientific Review Board and Research Advisory Board. The endorsed FISS station design for 2023 will be included on the IPHC website.  

A full accounting of the steps involved and draft designs for 2024 and 2025 can be found in the paper linked in the box below.

FISS station selection process

Photos from the field

This summer, our setline survey specialists (field) took to their cameras to take part in a photo contest. Although there were many fantastic photos and all received votes, there could be only one grand winner. Here is the winning photo for this year taken by Rodolfo Curralo.

Secretariat Spotlight

Afshin Taheri - Programmer

As a long time employee, Afshin has played a key role in building the expansive database that IPHC now has including data for the commercial fishery, FISS, otolith ages, and other information collected over the years. We were curious about what keeps Afshin coming back to the IPHC and here is what he said.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background? 

A. I graduated from University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in computer science before being hired by IPHC in 1992.

Q. You have been at the IPHC for 30 years. What has kept you here?

A. What kept me here for all these years was the environment and culture of dedication to science and health of an important fishery in the Pacific Northwest. The low key and teamwork environment among a small group of dedicated staff who share a common goal makes this place special. Being in a small work environment makes our contribution and responsibility much more impactful and important.

Q. What are some of the highlights of the work you do at the IPHC?

A. I am the programmer and technology go-to guy for the research and commercial fishery applications and data. I have developed and/or enhanced field applications for the FISS and commercial fishery. I oversee data flow from the field to our IPHC database which is being utilized by our scientists for the stock assessment. 

Q. What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time away from work?

A. I enjoy outdoors, camping, hiking, and snowshoeing. My other passions are soccer and tennis.

Research projects at the IPHC: Discard mortality rates in the charter recreational sector

A primary goal of this project is to better understand discard practices and resultant mortality rates in the Pacific halibut charter recreational fishery. Funding from both the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the North Pacific Research Board to the IPHC helped to make this project possible.


Experimental field components of this research took place in Sitka, Alaska and Seward, Alaska in May and June 2021, respectively, in collaboration with Alaska Pacific University.


Pacific halibut were caught using common recreational charter practices, and fish were assessed for hooking injuries and viability prior to release. Of these, 281 were fitted with wire tags and released. To date, a total of 28 wire tags have been recovered. Another 80 fish were fitted with acceleration-logging survivorship pop-up archival transmitting (sPATs) tags which detach from the fish on a pre-programmed date, float to the surface, and transmit data via satellite. From these data, it is possible to determine if the fish died during the study period leading to a mortality rate estimate.


From the sPAT data, estimates of discard mortality from the charter recreational fishery point towards a 1.35% discard mortality rate for fish classified in excellent viability. The discard mortality rate estimated in the present study is lower than the minimum 4.2% discard mortality rate for excellent viability fish recently estimated for Pacific halibut discarded from the longline fishery. 

For more information on this project and others, follow the link below.

Research update

IPHC Data Highlight

Until recently, there was one length/weight table to be used in all IPHC Regulatory Areas. Changes in weight at length over time had meant this table was no longer accurate on a coastwide basis. In addition, there was substantial variability among the IPHC Regulatory Areas, which could be problematic for harvesters trying to estimate the size of their catch and managers monitoring that catch. The Secretariat has published length/weight tables for each IPHC Regulatory Area. In addition, there is a length/weight calculator on the IPHC website that can estimate the weight of a fish based on the inputs.

To access the tables and the calculator, follow the link below.

Pacific halibut length/weight calculator

Ask an IPHC Scientist

Q. What is the current status of the Pacific halibut stock?

  • The stock has been relatively stable since about 2010, albeit at a lower level of productivity than previous decades due to low weight-at-age and lower recruitment, most recently weak recruitments from 2006-2011 following a stronger year in 2005.

Q. How much Pacific halibut is eaten by whales?

  • We don’t know exactly. Research is ongoing to better understand how large a source of mortality this may be for Pacific halibut. Reporting of damaged gear and whale observations in commercial logbooks is limited, so we have no comprehensive information to understand how frequently whales are depredating on commercial gear. Whale depredation serves to reduce our estimates of stock productivity if we have not accurately identified it.

Q. Is climate change affecting the Pacific halibut stock?

  • Yes. Large changes in environmental conditions (e.g. temperature) have been observed in the last decade which are affecting the abundance and distribution of many species, some of which compete with or are prey for Pacific halibut. However, so far we have not seen large shifts in the overall Pacific halibut distribution as they are tolerant of a wide range of conditions and eat a wide range of prey.
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