Salmon haul                            Credit:  ADF&G

 Despite an optimistic outlook  this year for Alaska salmon catches and markets, the value of salmon fishing permits is on a slide.

“Of course we always look to those benchmark drift  permits at Bristol Bay. We can tell  a lot about the permit market just looking at that one.”

Doug Bowen runs Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer. Bristol Bay drift permits, he says,  were trading at about $135,000 since last fall.

 “But for whatever reason those permit values have been slipping in the last few weeks. We’ve had several sales  at $129,000 and  we have a permit listed now listed at $125,000. So the Bay permits have slipped by about $10,000 in the last few weeks. I’m somewhat mystified.”

Bowen calls the permit slump a hangover from last year.

If you were involved in salmon last year you probably didn’t have a great year, unless you were in the bay. So there wasn’t a lot of extra money to pick up an extra permit or move into a different fishery and I think we’re seeing that.

Southeast drift permits are in the $83,000 range. Prince William Sound drifts, home to the famous Copper River, have rebounded somewhat after dropping to $110,000 –

PWS drift gillnet permits got all the way down to $110,000 earlier this year and have climbed back up. Were up over $165 and they also have slipped down closer to the $150,000 mark.

Prince William Sound seine permits are at about the same price or slightly above.

“It’s supposed to be a great year this year but we’re certainly not seeing it reflected in those prices. They’re certainly not going up very far very fast.”

Cook Inlet drift gillnetters have had several lousy fishing years and this year also is looking bleak. But Bowen says new rules that allow permit stacking have boosted values.

“That helped prop that value up from a low of $33,000 and they are trading right now for around $45,000 – because one permit holder can now hold two permits in his name and fish that extra shackle of gear. A few years ago they were at $90,000 so at $45,000 so it’s down considerably.” 

The lowest value seine card is at Kodiak.

They’ve also dropped . We’ve sold a few right at $25,000. They haven’t dipped below that mark but that’s pretty darn low. That’s the lowest salmon seine permit price anywhere in the state. “

Bowen says what’s needed to perk up salmon permit values is a good fishing season.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the jaw dropping values of IFQ’s.