IFQs & Federal Fisheries

October 6, 2023

The quota market is almost at a full stop right now. Some fishermen are waiting to hear what the IPHC has to say at their interim meeting at the end of November. Many processors have quit buying for the season or plan to quit soon. It's going to be tough to find a buyer for the rest of the season, which is not good news for late season ex-vessel prices.

The NPFMC is currently meeting in Anchorage. Although it's still early in the meeting, there's been A LOT of testimony (mostly on chum salmon issues), and some decisions are already being made. For instance, the Council proposed Bering Sea crab bycatch limits for the 2024/2025 season, which are substantially higher than the 2023/2024 limits, despite the directed crab fisheries still being closed or severely restricted. In addition, the Council proposed 8 million pounds of halibut bycatch for each of the next two years. (Note that numbers won't be final until December.) Jamie Goen of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, said "For crab, the train is off the tracks in a pile on fire, and people are trapped inside," which sums it up pretty well.

In more crab news: The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery will open October 15 for the first time in two years, with a TAC of 2.15 mlbs. The Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery will also open October 15, with a TAC of 1.32 mlbs for the Western Bering Sea and 760,000 lbs for the Eastern Bering Sea. Bering Sea snow crab will remain closed again, for the second year in a row. The Pribilof District red and blue king crab and the Saint Matthew Island Section blue king crab fisheries will both remain closed for the 2023/24 season as well.

ASMI's September Groundfish Harvest Report show BSAI and GOA pollock harvests up YOY 11% and 13% respectively. BSAI and GOA cod harvests are down YOY -8% and -26% respectively, in line with 2023 TAC reductions of -9% and -25%. BSAI sablefish harvest is up 14% YOY, and GOA sablefish is down -2%. The statewide halibut harvest is down -13% YOY, in line with the -12% 2023 TAC reduction.

The statewide sablefish TAC is 53% harvested, with AI at 10%, BS at 42%, CG at 60%, SE at 69%, WG at 62%, and WY at 78%. The statewide halibut TAC is 74% harvested, with 2C at 81%, 3A at 78%, 3B at 81%, 4A at 55%, 4B at 36% and 4C/4D at 66%. See the full report here