“Anglers took most of the quota as bycatch during the popular north coast halibut openings in May,” Reed said. “That didn’t leave us any margin for bottomfish seasons off the north coast for the rest of the year.”
Since then, however, the department has learned that the June yelloweye catch was lower than expected, and that yelloweye catch reserved for coastal research projects will be lower than originally anticipated.
“This new information gives us some flexibility to minimize the impacts to our coastal communities and allow our recreational bottomfish fishery to remain open through Labor Day,” Reed said. “We still have to close the fishery early, but not as early as we had thought.”
Reed said the department plans to look for ways to address high yelloweye harvest rates in the early season to avoid the need for early bottomfish closures in future years.