Fish Radio
Permits for Alaska salmon drop in value
October 26, 2105

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Values of Alaska salmon permits take a nosedive. It could be a good time to buy. More after this –

Salmon seiner Credit:  ASMI

Salmon seiner
Credit: ASMI

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Values of Alaska salmon permits are on a downward trend after a dismal season for all but a few regions.

“With the lone exception of Bristol Bay and Area M it was a pretty grim season for salmon fishermen all over the state and we are seeing that reflected in the declining prices for salmon permits and very low demand.”

Doug Bowen operates Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.  Bristol Bay drift permits have rebounded to the $135,000 range after reaching a low of around $90,000 last fall and spring. But Bowen says there’s not much interest.

“I believe there are fishermen that would like to switch out, say from Cook Inlet drift and go to the Bay but it’s tough to make that move. Cook Inlet drift permits aren’t selling; there are lots of them on the market around $50,000 and no action there.”

Prince William Sound drift gillnet permits a few years ago were fetching up to around $240,000.  A few sold recently in the $130,000 range or lower.

“So those PWS drift permits have dropped about $100,000 in a year again because they’ve had a couple of bad years in a row.”  

Seiners in the Sound also had a disastrous pink salmon year  –

“The pinks came in less than 25 percent of the forecast there. We don’t see much action on those. The market there is probably around $150,000 and they were up over $200,000 last year.  Fortunately there was a late season market for silvers there. Fishermen were getting $1.75 for silvers late in the season. I think that saved the day for some of the fishermen over there.’

There is no interest for Kodiak seine cards, Bowen said

 “We have no interest in Kodiak seine, no one looking for one or making offers. You can see them listed in the low $30,000 range but what it would take to actually sell one – my guess is it’s something under $30,000.”

In Southeast, permit values are not down quite as much as in other areas.  Drift gillnets were around $95,000 to $100,000 last year, with recent sales at around $80,000.   Southeast seine permits, which a couple of years ago approached $325,000, recently sold at $160,000.   Bowen says it all adds up to very little optimism.

“There are not a lot of positive feelings about salmon in general. Several of these areas have had a couple of bad years back to back. If you add it all up, I’m not sure what the actual number is, but there’s a couple hundred million dollars that did not show up in salmon this year. There’s not money floating around in the industry to buy these permits so we’re seeing a depressed market in general.”

He adds that people are worried about the future of salmon fishing.   

“ You hear people talking about the water temperature is too warm and the fish are swimming deep and going under the nets and around them and there seems to be a lot of concern about the future of salmon fishing here even in the near term, next year.”  

In the face of a brighter salmon market outlook for next year, Bowen says   lower permit and boat prices, mean it’s a good time to buy.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.