During the June Council meeting, the IPHC met jointly with the Council on halibut issues, like abundance based management for halibut bycatch and observer coverage. As much as these managers enjoy opportunities to work together, this meeting held some underlying tension. Discussing observer coverage of the commercial fleet, a Canadian commissioner noted that the Canadian fleet has 100% observer coverage by humans and electronic monitoring. He said that Canadians objected initially to the costs, but it is now considered a part of doing business because they know behavior changes when someone is watching.
As it stands, observer coverage of trawl vessels is up from 28% in 2016 to 32% in 2017, covering 18% of boats delivering shoreside & 14% of boats delivering to tenders. Hook and line observer coverage is at 36%. These numbers only represent human observers, as electronic monitoring is essentially in its test phase. In response, Council member Andy Mezirow and Chairman Dan Hull made pointed comments about the vast strides the U.S. program has made, largely through grant and interest group funding. Chairman Hull also directed the Commissioner to the long process and thousands of pages explaining current levels of observer coverage and efforts to improve these numbers. Thoughts are that this tension stems from leftover concern expressed about high halibut harvest levels in British Columbia, as compared to Southeast Alaska and the North Pacific United States.