The Pacific halibut fishery ended on November 14 amidst little fanfare. The eight month fishery topped 17 million pounds for Alaskan longliners holding shares of the fish, or about 93 percent of Alaska’s total catch limit.

Most dock prices ticked up a bit hovering in the $5 to $6 per pound range during the fishery, likely due to bad weather hampering landings of competing halibut from Canada.

Doug Bowen runs Alaska Boats and Permits at Homer.

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“Their hurricanes and everything may have disrupted some of the fisheries there and allowed some of the product from Alaska to make it into those higher end East Coast markets. And so we got a little better price.”

Better dock prices have not boosted the market for halibut quota shares, which dropped by a third or more  from sky high levels two years ago and appear now to have stabilized.

Shares in Southeast, for example, topped $70 per pound, and now most are in the $55 range or less. In the largest fishing region, the Central Gulf, halibut IFQs are at around $45 a pound.

Bowen blames the big drop on buyer fatigue –

“For the last 15 years or so the resource has been in general decline. I mean, there have been some minor increases over the years, but mostly the trend has been downward. And I think folks are kind of tired of buying something that gets cut the next year and is worth less. They’re buying an asset that’s declining in value. And then of course, many times over the last few years many folks have thought that this must be the bottom and it would be a great time to buy. Get in and ride it back up, and that hasn’t happened.”

Halibut stakeholders will get a glimpse next week at how the 2020 fishery could play out.  The interim meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission takes place November 25-26 in Seattle.

Bowen says the raw data from the summer setline survey showed upticks in the numbers of halibut per skate in every fishing region but the Central Gulf.

Find links here to all of the documents that are now posted at the IPHC website –

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