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  1. Introduction
  2. Mandate
  3. History
  4. Legal framework
  5. Area of competence
  6. Species and stocks coverage
  7. Members
  8. Structure
  9. EIMS Publications Database
  10. Media materials
  11. Contact

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is a regional fisheries management organization established by the “Convention between Canada and the United States of America for the Preservation of the Pacific Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea” in 1923. IPHC manages one fishery, the Pacific halibut, and regularly assesses the status of the stock. Since 2000, the number of vessels authorized to fish has been stably in the range of 1,000 to 3,000. Under the Convention, each party may prosecute or take other action against any vessel under domestic law to address violation of the Convention or of any regulations adopted pursuant to it.

Mandate The main objective of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is to develop the stocks of Pacific halibut in the Convention waters to those levels which will permit the optimum yield from the fishery and to maintain the stocks at those levels.

The main functions of the IPHC are:

  • Divide the Convention waters into areas;
  • Establish one or more open or closed seasons as to each area;
  • Limit the size of the fish and the quantity of the catch to be taken from each area within any season during which fishing is allowed;
  • During both open and closed seasons, permit, limit, regulate or prohibit the incidental catch of Pacific halibut that may be taken, retained, possessed, or landed from each area or portion of an area, by vessels fishing for other species of fish;
  • Fix the size and character of Pacific halibut fishing appliances to be used in any area;
  • Make such regulations for the licensing of vessels and for the collection of statistics on the catch of Pacific halibut as it shall find necessary to determine the condition and trend of the Pacific halibut fishery and to carry out the other provisions of this Convention;
  • Close to all taking of Pacific halibut any area or portion of an area that the Commission finds to be populated by small, immature Pacific halibut and designates as nursery grounds.

The IPHC Convention was concluded in 1923 by Canada and the United States of America and entered into force that same year. The Convention has been revised several times since, to extend the Commission's authority and meet new conditions in the fishery. The IPHC Convention was amended in 1953, 1976 and 1979. The 1976 amendment, termed a "protocol", extended the Members States jurisdiction over fisheries resources to 200 miles. The 1979 Protocol along with the U.S. legislation that gave effect to the Protocol (Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982) has affected the way the fishery is conducted, and redefined the role of IPHC in the management of the fishery during the 1980s. Canada does not require specific enabling legislation to implement the protocol.

Legal framework
  • IPHC Convention (1923 and amendments)
  • Rules of Procedure (2020)
  • Financial Regulations (2020)
  • International Pacific Halibut Commission Fishery Regulations (2020)
(all texts available in the same link)
Area of competence
IPHC area of competence - High seas, National waters
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries. Dashed lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement.

Species and stocks coverage

Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis).


Member: Canada, United States of America.

Observers: The Commission and its subsidiary bodies are open to Observers and the general public unless the Commission specifically decides otherwise.


Contracting Parties: The IPHC currently consists of six members, three appointed by each Contracting Party (the Governor General of Canada and the President of the United States of America), who serve their terms at the pleasure of the Contracting Party. In recent years, one Commissioner from each Contracting Party has been an employee of the federal fisheries agency, one a fisher, and one either a buyer or a processor involved in the fishery.

Subsidiary Bodies:
  • Management Strategy Advisory Board (MSAB): it is a panel formed of harvesters, fisheries managers, processors, Staff, Commissioners, science advisors, and academics created in 2013 to oversee and advise the Staff on the IPHC's Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE). MSE is an ongoing process to define fishery objectives, articulate and examine management procedures, and define performance measures in order to recommend fishery management measures for Commission consideration.
  • Scientific Review Board (SRB): it is a small group of fisheries science experts that provides an independent scientific review of Commission science products and programs, and supports and strengthens the stock assessment process.
  • Research Advisory Board (RAB): it was formed in 1999 and consists of both fishers and processors who offer suggestions to the Executive Director and staff on where Commission research should focus. RAB generally meets in February, after the IPHC Annual Meeting, and its input is factored into the IPHC research planning process.
  • Conference Board (CB): it is a panel representing Canadian and American commercial and sport halibut fishers. Created in 1931 by the Commission, the Board gives the IPHC the fishers' perspective on Commission proposals presented at Annual Meetings in January. Members are designated by union and vessel owner organizations from both nations.
  • Processor Advisory Board (PAB): it represents halibut processors since 1996. Like the Conference Board, PAB lends its opinion regarding Commission proposals and offers recommendations at IPHC Annual Meetings.
  • Finance and Administration Committee (FAC): it is comprised of Commissioners appointed to the task. Its duties are to advise the Commission on such matters of an administrative and financial character as are remitted to it by the Commission, including annually examining the operating budget for the current year and the draft budgets for the ensuing and following years. In addition, the FAC may draw to the attention of the Commission any matter of an administrative or financial character.
EIMS Publications Database Media materials Social network Web sources


David T. Wilson, Ph.D. (Executive Director)

International Pacific Halibut Commission

2320 W. Commodore Way, Suite 300Seattle, WA, 98199-1287, U.S.A.

Telephone: +1-206-634-1838

Web site: www.iphc.int

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