Unhand that halibut!

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Kodiak this week, and the big item on the agenda is halibut bycatch.

With halibut biomass declining in the North Pacific, the council is under considerable pressure to do something to curb waste of the premium fish.

Thus, it would appear inevitable that Gulf of Alaska commercial fleets are going to have to swallow some painful measures to reduce the bycatch, or incidental take, of halibut while pursuing other species such as pollock and cod.

As a "prohibited species," halibut caught incidentally must be thrown overboard, whether alive or dead.

As it stands, the Gulf trawl fleet has an annual limit of 2,000 metric tons of halibut bycatch, while the longline fleet has a 300-ton limit.

The council is expected to consider cutting these limits by 5 to 15 percent.

As you might imagine, a groundswell of voices is urging the council to take the most stringent action against the industry.

Here is one example. And another.

One state legislator is even encouraging people to call the governor to put heat on council members.