Commercial and Vocational Value

The big catch!

The Pacific halibut was harvested by Indians long before white people inhabited the Americas.  To this day, it remains a valuable commercial fish due to its popular, mild taste for such a large fish.  Jsome 1. "Portugese fishing boat." (image) <>. Accessed 9 April 2009Long lines are used by commercial fishermen to harvest these giant sea-dwellers.  A heavy line is laid out by a boat and anchored to the bottom at each end.  Along the line, baited hooks are attached.  The sunken line is marked with buoys and checked periodically.  This method of fishing is extremely effective and time efficient, allowing fisherman to maximize their catches.  But in 1932, this  new, proficient fishing method began to deplete the population of halibut. 

The International Fisheries Commission was forced to impose catch quotas to prevent further overharvest.  The quotas were successful and the halibut populations have been rebuilt.  Current annual catches are well-regulated; new quotas are set each year by the International Pacific Halibut Committee, averaging around 32,000 metric tons. 

The halibut is the largest of flatfish, and rallies sharks, tuna, and swordfish as one of the biggest fish of the sea.  Effectively, a great interest in heavy-tackle sport fishing is generated by these sea-dwelling monsters.  Charters are very prevalent off the southern coast of Alaska and the western coast of Canada.  Halibut caught by anglers are generally 15 – 20 pounds, but it is not uncommon for a fisherman to land a mature female over 150 lbs.  The largest Pacific halibut ever caught in North America was 495 lbs!  Halibut sport fishing is becoming more and more popular, falling second in popularity only to king salmon fishing.

.Wedin, I. "A nice catch of halibut." (image) <>. Accessed 9 April 2009.Cummings, M. "Trophy halibut." (image) <>. Accessed 9 April 2009.

One of the thrills of halibut fishing is that you never know what size fish you are going to reel up!  It could be a 400-pounder, a whole slew of average sized halibut, or you might only be lucky enough to land one like the man in the orange has.

If you're looking to give halibut fishing a try, the majority of charters run off of the southern coast of Alaska.  Great thanks to Andrew Mezirow at Cracker Jack Charters in Seward, Alaska for the excellent halibut photos.