DFG Releases Halibut Stock Assessment Report

Media Contacts:
Paul Reilly, DFG Marine Region, (831) 649-2879
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has completed its first-ever stock assessment of California halibut. The assessment results are now available to the public at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sfmp/halibut-assessment.asp.

Completed in July 2011, the assessment examined two separate halibut stocks off the coast of California, with the boundary drawn at Point Conception. The results from central California indicated that the halibut stock in those waters is healthy and that fishing is currently not the major factor in controlling the abundance level of the central California population. Instead, abundance in that area is driven by pulses of large numbers of young halibut which only occur in some years. These pulses are probably environmentally influenced.

The assessment of the Southern California population showed that the stock in those waters has been depressed over the last 40 years. The southern population is nevertheless above a level which can still produce a sustainable fishery, albeit at relatively low levels. A lack of good recruitment (young halibut entering the fishery) during the last decade has prevented the stock from achieving higher abundance levels in recent years.

Funded by DFG, the assessment was conducted under contract by Dr. Mark Maunder, an internationally recognized authority on fishery modeling. DFG staff collaborated on the effort by providing numerous databases relative to the recent and historical monitoring of the commercial and recreational fisheries and from fishery-independent surveys. The final report was subjected to an independent peer review before being released.

DFG staff will be conducting three public meetings in Southern California to explain the results of the stock assessment and how it may affect halibut management. These meetings will be held on the following dates:

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5 to 7 p.m.
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
Shedd Auditorium
2595 Ingraham St.
San Diego

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 5 to 7 p.m.
Veteran’s Memorial Building Auditorium
112 West Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara

Friday, Sept. 23, 5 to 7 p.m.
Community Room
Burton W. Chace Park
13650 Mindanao Way
Marina Del Rey

Questions about the stock assessment documents may be directed to Travis Tanaka, DFG Marine Region, 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey CA 93940, or by e-mail to ttanaka@dfg.ca.gov.