IFQs & Federal Fisheries

September 7, 2023

Well, third time's the charm, apparently, because you guys DELIVERED this week (pun intended). Thank you so much to everyone who sent me their thoughts on the state of IFQ fisheries. (Side note: it's never too late, I'm always interested in hearing reports from the grounds, send 'em my way!) I'll keep sharing them as long as you keep sending them. Here are some thoughts from longline fishermen, saving some for next week. Shockingly, everybody wished to remain anonymous.

"Just wanted to give you a halibut report from the south end of 2C. The fishing has been a little spotty/hit and miss."

"The fishing grounds seem incredibly scratchy. Fuel, bait, insurance are all going up, the price of halibut is not keeping up. What a difference a year makes, wish I would have sold at $55.00."

"Going forward, we will continue to see a decrease in TAC as our oceans are changing & getting warmer. Even though supply of quality white fish will be smaller, there is no guarantee of a higher price, since cost of halibut is already above price range of retail customers. The average American households, are also switching to lower cost farmed seafood, as price/value dictates shopping choices, more than quality does. We will see a continued decrease in interest & price of IFQ shares, when TAC is lowered for 2024 season."

Aside from that, we're hearing rumors of boats looking to deliver black cod being turned away in Homer, Seward, and Kodiak recently. With the CG TAC only 52% harvested, that doesn't sound great.

It sure seems like I should add something optimistic to this section because that was a whole lot of pessimism, so here goes: younger fishermen have been waiting for years or even decades for quota prices to come down to levels approaching affordable. Well, they have. And, while it's impossible to predict what the markets will do, the science certainly appears favorable for black cod stocks, and biologists seem cautiously optimistic about the 2012 halibut year class, as well as the growth rate in younger halibut. So, there ya go. Optimism on a silver platter.

The statewide sablefish TAC is 46% harvested, with AI at 6%, BS at 36%, CG at 52%, SE at 60%, WG at 56%, and WY at 68%. The statewide halibut TAC is 60% harvested, with 2C at 71%, 3A at 63%, 3B at 64%, 4A at 41%, 4B at 33% and 4C/4D at 39%. See the full report here