Fishing derbies are popular events where serious anglers test their mettle against various species of fish. Oceana recently received some news and pictures from a recreational fisherman who participated in the annual Marina Del Rey Halibut Derby in Southern California, a charity fundraiser held at the beginning of April. Organized by the Marina Del Rey Anglers, the derby is the oldest and largest Halibut Derby in Southern California. About 835 anglers participated at the event, and the heaviest halibut caught weighed in at 41.8 pounds.
Halibut are not only popular in recreational fishing, but are also an important commercial fish species. Found in the North Pacific and North Atlantic, Halibut are the largest of all flatfish and can weigh up to 500 pounds. They have also been known to reach a length of about eight feet. Like flounder, another species of flatfish, halibut typically have both eyes on the right side of the body. And like other flatfish, halibut mostly live closer to the bottom of the ocean floor, though they sometimes travel up the water column to feed. The commercial halibut fishery in the North Pacific has been in effect since the 19th century and has proven to be a lucrative industry. Pacific halibut are mostly captured through bottom longline fishing, where morsels of bait are attached to hooks dispersed along a long fishing line closer to the ocean floor. Because of their long lifespans (about 40 years for a female and about 25 for a male), they are slow to reproduce and require proper international management if the fishery is to continue thriving.