An off kilter salmon season has added to dampened enthusiasm in the permit market that’s lasted all year.

“All of these salmon fisheries here in the Gulf, both gillnet and seine permits, had a lousy year. And we see that in the lackluster permit market in the Gulf.”
Doug Bowen runs Alaska Boats and Permits at Homer. Further west, Bristol Bay with its back to back record breakers, is one exception.

 “The notable exception is at Bristol Bay where we see those prices continue to creep upwards. They are right at $165,000 and they were around $140,000-$145,000 before the season.”  

Bowen says more fishermen in regions of repeated poor salmon runs are eyeing Bristol Bay. For example, Bowen has nearly 30 listings of drift permit holders who want to bail out of Cook Inlet.

“Folks are wanting to move out of the Inlet, which had another terrible year, and go to Bristol Bay and move from Southeast to Bristol Bay.”    

Drift permits for Area M on the Alaska Peninsula also are increasing in value after several years of good fishing.

“We recently sold one for $175,000 which is $10,000 more than what the Bay permits are selling for.”  

Bowen says Bristol Bay permit values are likely to increase – a lot is riding on the 2019 sockeye run and catch forecasts that will be out this month.

 “And if looks like they’re going to have another good year we should see those permit values at least hold the ground they’ve gained since the spring, if not continue to move upwards in value.”  

Dock Street Brokers in Seattle has 11 listings for Bristol Bay drift permits; Permit Master and Bowen’s company each list four. Other brokers also show similar price ranges for Alaska salmon fisheries.

Higher salmon prices should show a big boost in the value of this year’s catch. Those numbers will be out any day. But Bowen says it won’t make up for the shortfall in fish.

“It’s great when that ex vessel price is increasing but it’s a matter of price and production. You have to have a decent fishery. 32 if you’re limited to how much you can harvest, that great price is not going to save the day.”

                    Nov. 18-20, Seattle