Alaska Longliner    Credit: Alan Sorum


Alaska fishermen who hold catch shares of halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea crab pay an annual fee to the federal government to cover management and enforcement costs for those fisheries.  The fee, which is capped at 3 percent, is based on dock prices through September and averaged across the state.

This month bills went out to 1,894 holders of halibut and sablefish quota shares, down 74 from last year.

The fee dipped to 2.2 percent for 2017, down from three percent, and yielded $4.7 million.

“NOAA’s enforcement costs went down by 44 percent from last year.”

Carl Greene is Cost Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries in Juneau.

The combined value of the halibut and sablefish fisheries was $208 million, a 10 percent increase over last year.  Greene says that was due to a bump in sablefish –

“The total fishery value for halibut was relatively flat year over year, while sablefish increased 24 percent, resulting from an 11 percent increase in pounds landed and 12 percent increase in average prices for sablefish.”  

The overall value of the halibut fishery was $111.5 million, while the sablefish fishery value of  $97 million increased from $78 million.

Prices to fishermen for halibut decreased by 35-cents, while sablefish dock prices increased by 50-cents per pound.

“The halibut prices decreased to $6.32 per pound and sablefish increased to average $4.84 per pound,”  Greene said.

Fee payments for halibut and sablefish are due by the end of January.

NOAA doesn’t track dock prices for Bering Sea crab, only the total value of the fishery, which took a steep drop.

“The total value for crab for the 2016/17 season was $188 million, a decrease of $40 million from the previous year.”  

The fee for crab catches, paid by 18 quota share holders, remained flat at 1.6 percent and yielded $3 million for enforcement costs.

 For just the second year, another group of 18 boats is paying a small fee of around one percent to cover their fisheries – Bering Sea trawlers that fish for flounders, pollock and other whitefish, including vessels owned by CDQ groups.

Those fisheries yielded just over $2 million for enforcement coverages for 2017.