Alaska halibut is facing strong headwinds that have damped the value of quota shares.
“These increased Atlantic halibut imports coming in from the east coast coming in from Canada, a fair amount of inventory left in the freezers, and with the reduced catch limits on halibut we’re seeing a major readjustment in the IFQ prices – they’ve come down quite a bit from last year.”
Doug Bowen heads Alaska Boats and Permits at Homer. Add to that halibut dock prices that are down by roughly two dollars.
“And then here at the opener the lower dock prices. That definitely dims the enthusiasm for buying quota. So the stuff that was trading at $65-$66 last year is down between $50 and $55 this year.”
Last fall there was optimism among halibut stakeholders that the fishery was making a comeback and catch limits could increase slightly.
Survey results on the stocks showed that was not the case.
“A lot of people were caught flatfooted by the survey results that showed pretty significant reduction of recruitment coming into the halibut fishery.”
Even more ominously, the 2018 halibut catch limits were reduced by half of what fishery biologists recommended.
People are waiting for the other shoe to drop next year if they come back and want to cut more. So that’s definitely another negative thing affecting the IFQ values. 30
There are some similarities and differences in the market for sablefish, or black cod, quota shares. The stocks appear robust and catches were increased 15 percent.
Quota share prices range from the mid to high $30s at Southeast and $25 to $35 in the Central Gulf.
“The black cod IFQ values are holding their own from where they were last year. Were going up a bit now seem to stabilize. Has a lot to do with lower dock prices.”
Black cod prices also have plummeted by two dollars from last year’s high of $10 a pound for fish over seven pounds.
That market also faces headwinds: More than three million pounds of frozen fish remains in Japanese freezers, and black cod holdovers also are reported in the U.S. where the fish is gaining in popularity.
Catches of lots of smaller sized black cod also has put a downward press on buying interest.
Roughly 2,000 Alaskans hold quota shares of halibut and black cod.