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Help Stop Halibut Bycatch

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The Bering Sea is known as the ocean’s cradle for halibut. The Alaska Coastal Current carries eggs and larvae to the area, and the vast majority of juvenile halibut that rear there migrate out as they grow older, traveling as far south as California.

Each year, an average of three-quarters of a million halibut are caught and discarded as bycatch in the Bering Sea by a fleet of factory vessels – bottom trawlers – targeting other flatfish. The majority of the halibut they catch as bycatch are juveniles.

In some recent years, the halibut caught as bycatch in the area exceeded what was caught by halibut fishermen in that same area by nearly double the weight, or eight times as many individual fish. As halibut abundance went rapidly down, conservative management allowed less and less halibut to be harvested by commercial and sports fishermen – while the bycatch users’ limit was unchanged.

This means that for over a decade, as the population of halibut declined and fewer halibut could be caught overall, people who directly relied on halibut for their livelihood increasingly bore the responsibility of conserving the stock - while the seeds of future generations were wasted. A staggering nine out of 17 communities in the region, largely Alaska Native, no longer participate in the halibut fishery upon which they have historically relied.

In 2016, fishermen and communities from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest organized in response to such waste, and spent more than six years successfully advancing a bycatch limit for the fleet of factory ships that was actually linked to the health and abundance of the halibut stock. This effort was approved by regulators in 2021, and the new rule went into effect in January this year.

But the success of this grassroots effort was short-lived: in December of 2023, the fleet of bottom-trawling factory ships filed a federal lawsuit calling the new rule, Amendment 123, unfair – and asked that it be overturned. If this lawsuit succeeds in court, we lose all we have gained in the fight to reduce halibut bycatch. The bycatch limit for bottom trawlers would go back up to a static limit that makes no sense for conservation, and denies fairness and environmental justice.

Our organization, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, has joined a diverse coalition of organizations called the Halibut Defense Alliance to help defend Amendment 123 in court. We have all committed what funds we can spare, and we need your help to see this through to the end. The outcome of this court case is important not only for halibut, but for the ability to enact bycatch reductions for any species.

We ask that you contribute however you can to help protect a fish that is ecologically important, iconic to West Coast fisheries and essential to the continuation of coastal subsistence traditions
and economies. By donating, sharing, and telling the story of your connection to the sea, you can help us prevent bycatch that takes away from future generations. To make a donation by check, please mail to Alaska Marine Conservation Council, PO Box 2190 Homer, AK 99603 with memo GoFundMe.

Any funds raised beyond what is spent on attorney fees will be directed to ongoing efforts to reduce bycatch by AMCC and other members of the Halibut Defense Alliance.

For more information on Amendment 123, read our comment on the proposed rule here. To learn more about AMCC and our work to protect healthy oceans and communities, visit our website.

On behalf of halibut and all who appreciate them, thank you.



  • David Billings
    • $500 
    • 4 d
  • Dale Koenig
    • $25 
    • 28 d
  • Josh Wisniewski
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Fishing Vessel Owners' Assocation
    • $500 
    • 1 mo
  • Captain Yle Spokas
    • $150 
    • 2 mos


Alaska Marine Conservation Council

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