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2019 halibut fishing season opens Friday

KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The 2019 halibut fishing season opens statewide on Friday, according to NOAA Fisheries.

Regulations for the 2019 fishery were set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission in February.

At the IPHC meeting, the United States and Canada reached an agreement on halibut limits. With this agreement, the U.S. will receive an 82.3 percent share of the 2019 total catch of 29.4 million pounds, according to a NOAA Fisheries press release. U.S. fishermen will receive 23.5 million pounds, which is an 8.2 percent increase from 2018.

"While the overall quota for 2019 is a slight increase over 2018, the catch limits agreed to at the meeting reflect a sensible, conservative approach that will secure the future of this iconic and economically important species," Chris Oliver, NOAA Fisheries administrator and U.S. commissioner for the IPHC, said in a prepared statement.

Alaska's total set halibut catch — 22 million pounds — is an increase of almost 1.5 million pounds from last year. All areas except the western Gulf of Alaska received an increase in all allocations, according to the press release.

Area 2C, which covers Southeast Alaska, has a combined commercial and charter allocation of 4.49 million pounds of halibut in 2019, up 0.9 percent from 2018. The Area 2C commercial catch limit is 3.61 million pounds, according to NOAA Fisheries.

The commercial IFQ halibut season for Alaska will continue through Nov. 14.

The regulations for guided charter anglers in Southeast Alaska will be:

• One fish daily bag limit, per angler.

• Reverse slot limit that prohibits retention of any halibut that is greater than 38 inches and less than 80 inches.

Unguided sport fishers will adhere have a daily bag limit of two fish — any size — per person.