IFQs & Federal Fisheries

December 4, 2023

Interest in quota has been very slow. Many halibut folks were waiting for information from the Interim Meeting (and some may wait for the Annual Meeting in January), and sablefish folks are awaiting the upcoming NPFMC meeting and catch limits. However, for those of you looking to make a move before the end of the year (taxes, anyone?) now is the time. Between the holidays, end of year sluggishness, and last minute transfers, sometimes things can take a little bit longer than expected this time of year. If there's something you want to show up on your 2023 taxes, don't put it off.

The end of the season typically means lower ex-vessel prices for both halibut and sablefish. However, it's been difficult if not impossible to sell sablefish at any price for a while now, and prices for halibut have been on a downward slope for months, with boats fetching $3.00-$4.50 in Homer and $4.00-$4.50 in Kodiak.

The IPHC held its Interim Meeting last week. Some top level takeaways: coastwide, O32 WPUE (or weight of legal fish) was down 3% from 2022, driven primarily by a 6% decrease in biological region 3. Coastwide, the survey CPUE (catch per unit effort) was down 2-4%, but the fishery CPUE, was down 12%. That's a pretty big discrepancy between survey and fishery data and had a notable effect on the stock assessment results. If you're interested, find the full report here, including breakdowns by regulatory area.

The NPFMC meets December 4-12 in Anchorage, and many documents are posted and available for review. The SSC meets Dec 4-6, the AP meetings Dec 5-8, and the Council itself meets Dec 7-12. On the agenda is participation requirements for crab C shares; crab facility use caps; BSAI and GOA plan team and SAFE reports, and harvest specs; essential fish habitat FMP amendments; charter halibut management; and more. Note that review of GOA Tanner crab protections, which was initially scheduled for this meeting, has been postponed to the February meeting. If you can't make the meeting in person, be sure to tune in on Zoom!

For more information on Essential Fish Habitat, why it matters, and how it affects fisheries, here's a good article.

ASMI published their November Groundfish Harvest Update, noting that the groundfish TAC was 77% harvested through October. The report shows the statewide sablefish harvest is flat this year, despite the 15% TAC increase, and points out a 13% reduction in sablefish export prices.

I lost a bet I made last month that the sablefish TAC wouldn't hit 60% harvested this year. The sablefish TAC is now exactly 60% harvested, with AI at 10%, BS at 62%, CG at 65%, SE at 81%, WG at 70%, and WY at 83%. The statewide halibut TAC is 85% harvested, with 2C at 88%, 3A at 91%, 3B at 90%, 4A at 66%, 4B at 40% and 4C/4D at 76%. See the full report here