Notice to State Waters Halibut Fishermen: Season Reduced by Two Weeks to May 18 - June 13

State waters halibut fishermen:

First and foremost, we hope you and your family are doing well.

Over the last month, the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has sought input from state license holders regarding changes to the state waters halibut fishery. Because we were unable to hold public meetings, we utilized online surveys to collect feedback on specific management measures. DMR has been contemplating these changes in order to remain within the federal catch target for state waters, and the total allowable catch overall. Should catch in the Atlantic halibut fishery, both state and federal waters, exceed the Allowable Biological Catch, accountability measures are triggered which include a zero possession limit of Atlantic halibut by all federal permit holders (including federal lobster permits). The industry surveys considered changes to the season, alternative landing weeks, specific landing days, as well as a bag limit. After reviewing the results of the surveys and obtaining feedback from the Maine industry, DMR concluded that Maine fishermen strongly preferred a reduced season to the other alternatives.

As a result, Maine is taking emergency action to reduce catch in the state waters halibut fishery by reducing the length of the state waters halibut season to May 18 - June 13, inclusive. We regret having to make further reductions at this time, particularly when many industry members are navigating the effects of Covid-19. However, reductions are necessary to avoid even more drastic impacts in future seasons. The regulation will be published next week in local newspapers and on DMR's website.

We will send another notice as usual, when the adoption package has been posted.

We thank the industry for participating in the surveys and providing feedback.