Strengthening Fisheries Management: CONCUR Conducts Performance Review of International Pacific Halibut Commission (2012)
CONCUR was jointly chosen by the United States Department of State and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans to examine recent performance of the International Pacific Halibut Commission relative to achievement of the goals set out in the body’s founding Treaty.
Authorized by the 1923 “Convention for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the North Pacific Ocean including the Bering Sea,” the International Fisheries Commission (renamed the International Pacific Halibut Commission) is the world’s oldest regional fisheries management organization. The Commission conducts stock assessments and sets catch limits for the $600-million-dollar halibut fishery off the west coasts of Canada and the United States, including the southern and western coasts of Alaska, within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and internal waters (including Puget Sound). The Commission also considers other regulations for halibut fisheries in Convention waters, confirms budget allocations, discusses coordination with US and Canadian fishery management organizations, and addresses other conservation and management issues.
CONCUR’s review was based in part on a series of confidential one-on-one interviews with a representative set of more than 40 stakeholders – processors, fishermen (commercial, recreational and First Nations/Native Alaskan/tribal representatives), Commission members and staff, academics/scientists, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and others. CONCUR also observed and tracked the 2011 Interim and 2012 Annual meetings and conducted extensive document review.
CONCUR’s 73-page Final Report, laying out a series of findings and a dozen recommendations, was presented to Commissioners and about 50 stakeholders (via webinar) on April 30, 2012. The Report recommends actions to improve governance processes, strengthen the assessment methodology through systematic peer review, increase transparency, improve the stakeholder consultation process, increase the engagement of tribes and First Nations, and build on the strengths of the Commission to continue the sustainable management of the halibut resources. A public comment period opened with the rollout of the Report and will extend to June 30. Significant discussion of an implementation plan is expected to take place at the upcoming Interim and Annual Meetings in late 2012 and early 2013 respectively, as well as a Commission retreat in fall 2012.