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AREA 17  Georgia Straight & Southern Gulf Islands

Management area 17

 AREA 23 – Port Alberni to Bamfield
DFO Fishing area # 23

AREA 123  Outside waters of southwest Vancouver IslandManagement Area 123

AREA 29  Georgia Straight & Salish Sea


Halibut Transporting and Packaging Guidelines

  • As identified above and on the 2016/ 2017 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence, size limits are in effect. In order to comply with these size limits it will be a requirement for recreational harvesters to measure any halibut they decide to retain prior to keeping it.
  • You are required to record your halibut catch on your licence. Carry a tape measure and a pen with you on your boat so that you can record on your licence: the date, Fisheries Management Area and length of the halibut you decide to keep.
  • Mark an area on your vessel’s hull at the water-line in the area where you would play your catch. Use these marks to determine the 83 cm or 133 cm size limit of your catch. A measuring device may also be fashioned from a piece of wooden dowel such as the handle on a deck broom. Mark the two size limits on the dowel and use this to measure your catch while it is still in the water.
  • Small halibut are easier to handle than larger ones and may be netted and brought on board your vessel where they can be measured and either returned or taken within your daily limit. If you decide to release a small halibut, if possible, do so while it is still in the water as this will cause it the least amount of harm.
  • DO NOT bring large halibut on board your vessel to measure. Halibut are a very powerful fish and can cause you serious injury. If you believe you cannot properly measure a large fish safely and accurately enough to comply with the length requirement then release the fish.

Packaging for Transport

  • Any halibut that you catch may be left whole, may have the head removed, or may be filleted as noted below.
  • Halibut may be packaged by a registered fish processing establishment. Some lodges are registered and provide this service and most coastal communities have certified establishments that also offer this service.


Halibut that are too large for your cooler may be filleted for transport however some care must be taken to ensure that the fish you possess can be readily measured if inspected by a fishery officer.

  • In order to comply with minimum or maximum length regulations you must either leave your halibut with the head and tail attached, or you may fillet it so that one fillet has the tail and the pectoral fin attached. This will allow the length from the end of the tail to the most forward anterior point where the pectoral fin is attached to be measured.
  • Once filleted you should have no more than seven pieces from each halibut including the one whole fillet with the tail and pectoral fin attached.
  • To remove the fillets so that you can comply with the maximum length requirement remove the top (dorsal) fillets first.
  • Remove the bottom (ventral) fillet from one side. This leaves you the last remaining fillet still attached, the backbone, tail, and the pectoral fin on the side opposite to where the first ventral fillet was removed.
  • You must retain the pectoral fin and the tail attached to the last fillet. Beginning at the pectoral fin, start to remove the fillet towards the tail as you normally would.
  • Once near the end of the fillet, cut through the spine above the tail being careful to leave the skin facing you at the tail attached.
  • When you have cut through the spine you can cut through the flesh at the end of the fillet down to the skin without cutting it through which then will act like a hinge allowing the tail to be folded under the fillet for transport. If this last halibut fillet is still too long to fit your cooler, you may make a cut through the flesh of the fillet down to the skin without cutting through into two pieces. This fillet can then be folded at the cuts to permit storage in your cooler and allow the length of your catch to be readily measured.
  • The dorsal fillets and the fillet without the tail and pectoral fin may each be cut into two pieces for ease of storage until you arrive at your ordinary residence.
  • Keep the pieces of each fillet together in its own bag.
  • The ventral fillet that has the tail and pectoral fin attached must remain in one piece. Should you make a mistake during this procedure on removal of this last fillet, retain the pieces from it and keep them together in a separate bag so that they may be inspected if required.
  • Fillet pieces that are frozen must be frozen separately so that each piece may be measured if required.
  • Avoid cutting fish into smaller pieces. The regulation states that the fish you possess must be readily measureable to determine that it is in compliance where size limits apply. You are responsible to comply with this requirement.

See packaging and transport guidelines for all species.

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