While it’s steady as she goes for Alaska salmon permit values and high priced halibut quota shares, there’s some buy/sell/trade in those markets.
Not so for Bering Sea crab where almost no shares are changing hands.
“It’s somewhat stagnant and that is largely due to availability and over the years there has been some consolidation. They’re in for the long haul. Likewise the CDQ groups and they don’t sell.”
Jeff Osborn at Dock Street Brokers is the go to guy for crab quota share insights. Also cutting into transactions is the low crab catch limits
“Guys don’t want to sell on a low TAC even if the price of quota has increases. They’d rather wait till the quota comes back up.”
Red king crab catches at Bristol Bay of 6.6 million pounds, down 22 percent.
Snow crab at 19 million is the lowest since 2005, and after a 20 million pound fishery just two years ago, bairdi Tanners tanked this season to just 2.5 million pounds.
Still, Osborn speculates a sort of seesaw for the crab quota share market –
“ Red king crab- there’s none for sale. I’d be a little hard pressed to tell you where the market is. It got upwards pushing $70 a pound but I don’t know that the market would bear that now.
For snow crab – at least the mid $20s if not higher. Again, it’s a fair amount of speculation on my part because there have not been any transactions that I’m aware of.”
Osborn says the ‘volatile biology’ of the crab stocks and the potential impacts of a warming and more acidic ocean are tough for crabbers to talk about.
“They aren’t ignoring it, but it’s kinda like what do you do? If it is going to affect the fishery, when it going to effect the fishery and to what extent?”
But the ocean could be holding another card: the current big drop in cod fish stocks just might be a boon for some crab.
“And if indeed the cod resource is diminishing, you are taking a lot of predation out of the equation and so maybe that would support improvements in the red king crab fishery. “
The Bering Sea crab fisheries opened in mid-October.