VANCOUVER, March 13, 2015 /CNW/ - "Our fleet has staged to the grounds and will commence fishing operations when the season opens on March 14th at 12:00pm," says Lyle Pierce, master of the fishing vessel Bold Pursuit and President of the Pacific Halibut Management Association of BC (PHMA), an organization representing commercial halibut fishermen on Canada's Pacific coast.
Each year, the commercial halibut fishery provides millions of meals to Canadians who enjoy commercially-caught halibut in restaurants or purchase it at retail outlets to consume at home.
"That's what commercial fishermen do," notes Pierce, "we provide food for Canada and the world and jobs and incomes for British Columbians."
Halibut have been harvested commercially off the Pacific coast of Canada since the late 1880's. The fishery is dominated by small, family-owned businesses from all areas of the BC coast. Over the past 35 years BC commercial halibut fishermen have invested in conservation and sustainability to create a fishery that has been described by the David Suzuki Foundation as "one of the high bar examples in the world of how a multi-species longline fishery should be conducted."
The fishery operates under a management regime that requires full accountability of all fish caught and employs a world class catch accounting system. There is 100% at-sea monitoring of all fishing trips using DFO-approved electronic monitoring systems equipped with video cameras and GPS to record catch composition and fishing time and location. Halibut can only be landed in designated landing ports and there is 100% dockside monitoring of all landings by government-designated validators. All fish landed are counted and weighed by the validators who also tag every single halibut with a unique serial number. The catch accounting system is fully funded by commercial fishermen.
The commercial halibut fishery was the first fishery in BC to receive the globally-recognized Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification - the gold standard for independent, third-party eco-certification – which automatically puts it in the to 10% of global fisheries. The MSC acknowledges the fishery's catch accounting system "is one of the most rigorous in the world."
"Fishermen incur significant expenses in the monitoring of the fishery," states Chris Sporer, PHMA Manager. "However, our members support these measures as they are necessary for conservation and sound resource management."
The fishery will remain open until November 7, 2015.
SOURCE Pacific Halibut Management Association of BC
For further information: Chris Sporer, Manager, PHMA, 604-523-1528