The preliminary dockside value of Alaska’s salmon season skyrocketed this year to nearly $680 million, a 67 percent increase over last year.

That’s stabilized permit prices for several regions and caused an upward tick at others.

“I think we are seeing some stability across the board in   these permit values.”

Doug Bowen runs Alaska Boats and Permits at Homer.

Bristol Bay drift permits trade more than any other and after one of the best seasons ever, permit values are increasing.

“They had a great year, caught a lot of fish, the price was better-everybody had a good season. But the permits certainly have not rocketed up in value. They’re up around $140,000-$141,000 right now which is up from where they were at the start of the season down around $130,000-$135,000 – but considering how well the seasons have gone there the last few years – and several years ago they hit $175,000.”

He says the value could increase when the 2018 salmon forecasts come out next month.

“But they are inching up slowly and it seems to me right about now that there’s as many people who want to get into the Bay as there are folks who want to get out and so the prices have kind of stabilized.”

Permits at nearby Area M on the Alaska Peninsula showed the biggest value increases, going from $110,000 before the season to about $140,000 now.

It’s about the same range for drift gillnet permits in other big salmon fishing regions.

“It’s interesting some years there can be a huge difference between say a drift gillnet permit in PWS or Area M and  Bristol Bay. And for whatever reason this year they are all about the same.”

Chignik seine cards are about the same with some listings at $150,000.

Cook Inlet drift permit values reflect three lousy fishing seasons, despite being able to stack permits and fish extra gear.

But that wasn’t enough to save the day. They had another really poor year, it’s at least three in a row so those permit values before the season started at $48,000-$48,500. The permits got all the way down into the low to mid $30’s and they’ve inched back upwards to about $40,000 right now, but that’s down from where they were before the season. And that’s down from $60,000-$70,000 a year or two ago.”

Kodiak seine values are ticking up from a preseason value of around $25,000 to over $30,000–

 “They did have a great season and those permits prices have crept up a little, we’re at around $30,000 right now.  Again, sort of stable, they don’t seem to be going up or down very far, very fast”

At Southeast, Bowen says there’s not a lot of movement for drift permits which are up to around $100,000 and seine cards have slipped a bit.

It was maybe up a little over $200 there before the season and now you can see them listed at $180,000 or so.”  

With an extra couple hundred million dollars more circulating from a strong season, Bowen says there’s more boat buying and upgrading going on.

“We’re seeing buy and build new boats or upgrade to a bigger or newer boat. Definitely some movement with gillnetters and seiners.”  

Salmon forecasts for 2018 will start trickling out next month. Bowen says the busiest time for permit brokers will be in the spring.

Tomorrow we’ll look at values of IFQs.