top of page

Help Defend Alaska's Halibut

Each year, an average of three-quarters of a million halibut - the majority of them juveniles - are caught and discarded as bycatch in the Bering Sea by a fleet of factory bottom trawlers targeting other flatfish. In some recent years, the halibut caught as bycatch exceeded what was caught by halibut fishermen. And, as halibut abundance rapidly declined, conservative management allowed less and less halibut to be harvested by commercial and sports fishermen while the bottom trawl fleet’s limit was unchanged. This means that for over a decade, people who relied directly on halibut for their livelihood increasingly bore the responsibility of conserving the stock.


In 2016, fishermen and communities from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest organized in response to this waste, and spent more than six years successfully advocating for a bycatch limit for the trawl fleet 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 finally went into effect in January 2024.

But the success of this grassroots effort was short-lived. In December 2023, the bottom trawl fleet 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 which makes no sense for the long-term conservation of the species, and denies fairness and environmental justice.


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 now 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.

Please consider a special gift to the Halibut Defense Fund today 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.

bottom of page