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WWF-Russia suggests imposing a temporary ban on halibut fishing offshore of the Kamchatka peninsula

02 july 2021
WWF-Russia sent a letter to the head of the Russian Federal Fishery Agency. In the letter, experts announced their concerns about a fourfold decline of the Pacific halibut population which has been witnessed in recent years in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk and near the Kamchatka peninsula. WWF-Russia experts are certain that a temporary ban on bottom longline fishing alongside a revision of stock assessment methods will prevent a disaster, preserve the habitats, and ensure halibut population growth.
"The Pacific halibut stock assessment is based on everyday reports provided by fishing vessels. There is a serious lack of field reports and information provided by scientific observers. The allowable catch is overestimated because of that. Contributing factors are also not taken into account. For example, we do not know anything about the young fish bycatch, the impact of fishing gear on benthic communities, and how predators impact the stocks. Greenland halibut population follows the same trends, which is also concerning. We are certain that drastic measures must be implemented today," said Sergey Rafanov, the head of the Sustainable Marine Fishery Program of WWF-Russia.
The suggested measures include:
  • a temporary ban on bottom longline fishing for halibut offshore of the Kamchatka peninsula and in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk
  • a ban on young halibut (the minimal size of fish must be determined) bycatch for any fishing gear
  • an increase in quantity and quality of specialized scientific research
  • a revision of the existing stock assessment methods.