Fish Radio
Brokers are busy; Salmon permit values slump
February 20, 2015                

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Busy brokers say Alaska salmon permits and prices are in a slump. I’ll tell you more after this –

World's biggest sockeye salmon run Credit: streamhugger.com

World’s biggest sockeye salmon run
Credit: streamhugger.com

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2014 was one of the busiest years ever for brokers who help Alaskans buy, sell and trade fishing permits and quota shares.

I was really happy to see such a good mix of permits we were selling – it wasn’t just one thing. We had a lot of Dungeness…charter permits, salmon permits, shrimp permits, sea cucumber and then whatever IFQs we could find.

Olivia Olsen runs Alaskan Quota and Permits in Petersburg.

Early March through May is when sales pick up for salmon permits. Early indicators point to lower salmon prices this year in a plentiful market, and that’s having a downward press on permit prices – notably, at Alaska’s bellwether sockeye fishery at Bristol Bay.

Drift permits there were fetching a record $175,000 last fall; now they’ve dipped to $164,000.

Doug Bowen is with Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer

Those permit prices have softened in the Bay and actually kind of across the board for any salmon permits. The concern about price in the Bay this year. A lot of sockeye left in the market from the big run in the Bay last year, plus the Fraser River. And so there seems to be some negative price rumors there about the exvessel price in the Bay, and there is concern it could dip below a dollar a pound.

The strong US dollar against other countries makes it more expensive for foreign customers to buy Alaska fish. And with another big sockeye run forecasted for Bristol Bay this summer, Olsen says it could be tough on new entrants –

Now I’m hearing possibility of a harder time for people getting markets – that’s going to slow sales for sure. If new people are coming in they’re going to need to have a market. 

Doug Bowen agrees:

 The latest concern is some of these guys busying in are having quite a bit of difficulty just lining up a market and finding anyone who will take them on, because the processors there are looking at a big year there and not really looking to expand their fleets. 

Elsewhere – at Prince William Sound, seine permits have dropped below $200,000; Cook Inlet drifts are at $65,000, down from $90,000 two years ago. Kodiak interest is flat at under $50,000.

Still, both brokers say the mood on the Alaska waterfront is very upbeat. Doug Bowen –

We do see a lot of optimism among the fleets, and people are building new boats and that is definitely the biggest vote of confidence that you can make – 

We’ll focus on IFQ markets next week. Find links at www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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