The Fish Ticket

April 5, 2024

Permits & State Fisheries

Bristol Bay drift permits are still hanging out in the $130,000-$135,000 range. We have a current offer of $135,000. Cook Inlet drift permits aren't moving much, as fishermen are still waiting to see what happens at next month's hearing. Cook Inlet setnet permits are at $14,500 this week. Lots of new prices and permits, check out our featured listings below, or head to our website for all current listings.

The PWS sablefish season opens April 15 with a GHL of 244,000 lbs and will run through August 31. There are 48 permits registered. 

The Sitka Sound herring season closed at 6:00 pm today. Despite a record available harvest of 81,246 tons, a lack of market demand led to a small fleet harvesting just over 13,000 tons this year. 

The 2023/2024 Chinook salmon winter troll fishery closed March 31. The spring fishery will start to open up May 1.

Some reminders:

Wednesday April 10 is the deadline to submit proposals for the 2024-2025 Board cycle, which includes Southeast, Yakutat, and PWS finfish and shellfish, and statewide shellfish. More info here.

The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission is working to refine the internal procedures that guide transfers of permits to minors under 16 (or under 10 for set net permits) and are requesting input. If this is something you care about, please take a few minutes to complete their survey.

IFQs & Federal Fisheries

Quota holders: are you looking for someone to catch your quota this season? Check out our improved IFQ Charters page for an up-to-date list of vessels looking to catch your quota.

The ex-vessel prices for halibut took the usual dip over the Easter weekend but seem to have stabilized for the time being in the five dollar range, with Homer at $5.05/$5.35/$5.65 today. Kodiak came in at $5.00 straight last week, while Juneau was at $5.25/$5.50/$5.75 and Craig at $5.50 straight. (Thanks to everyone sharing dock prices!) Unfortunately, with a large volume of fish expected in the next few days, those dock prices will probably come down a bit. Mixed reports from the grounds, with some fishermen having decent trips, and scratchy fishing for others. Halibut quota prices are relatively stable as well, with a sale off 3ABU at $29.00 and a current offer of $28.00.

Black cod prices remain low. Our most recent report from Seward on 4/1/24 was: <2 $.25, 2-3 $1.00, 3-4 $1.50, 4-5 $2.30, 5-7 $4.00 and 7 ups at $6.00. Remember the good old days? A random fish ticket from 2017 had these prices: <2 $5.20, 2-3 $5.85, 3-4 $6.70, 4-5 $7.70, 5-7 $8.75 and 7 ups at $9.90. What happened to that market? Probably a combination of factors, but what a drop. These dock prices for sablefish have brought the IFQ values way down, with a price reduced yesterday on a block of 4,750 pounds of CGCB to $4.75. Unblocked CG remains available at $6.00.
The NPFMC meeting runs through April 9 in Anchorage. Left on the agendachum salmon bycatch initial review analysis; Area 4 halibut vessel caps initial review; Maximum Retainable Amount adjustments discussion paper review; and more. The comment deadline has passed, but you may sign up to testify in person or remotely here.

What Else?

Anyone else feeling like industry news these days is just one gut punch after another? Because I am. So let's start off with some good news this time, shall we? 

Bristol Bay salmon fishermen may see a slight price increase over last year. We're talking a base price of $0.60-$0.70, compared to last year's $0.50. Ekuk Fisheries, which will now operate as Alaska's Best Seafood, sent a letter to their fishermen identifying a $0.70 base price, with additional incentives. 

SB93 passed the Alaska legislature this week, and is awaiting Governor Dunleavy's signature. The bill increases maximum payouts from the Fishermen's Fund, a fund that pays medical costs of injured crew, from $10,000 to $15,000 per injury, and increases reimbursements to vessel owners for insurance deductibles from $5,000 to $15,000. 

35 members of Congress signed onto a bipartisan letter to House and Senate Agriculture Committee members requesting an office of seafood at USDA and seafood industry access to USDA purchases and programs available to the agriculture industry. 

Alaska and Canada have agreed to a seven-year pause on Chinook fishing in the Yukon River, in an attempt to let the stocks rebuild. 

In Board of Fish news, Governor Dunleavy reappointed Märit Carlson-Van Dort for a second term on the Board, and appointed Curtis Chamberlain to serve his first term. Chamberlain grew up on the Kuskokwim river and now serves as assistant general counsel for the Western Alaska Calista Corporation.

The USDA is hungry for more pollock. They put out a bid for 5.7 million pounds of frozen Alaska pollock, which when complete will clear out the remaining surplus pollock supply. 

In news that would surprise nobody that's paying attention, the number of Alaska seafood processing jobs is falling. In 2015, there were 21,300 summer processing jobs. Last summer there were roughly 3,000 fewer than that. On top of that, the number of Alaska salmon permit holders is down by over 23%

Silver Bay Seafoods and Peter Pan Seafoods have reached a deal for Silver Bay's purchase of Peter Pan's Valdez plant, and agreements for Silver Pay to lease Peter Pan's Dillingham, Port Moller, and King Cove plants for the 2024 salmon season. 

Trident closed on the sale of its Petersburg plant to E. C. Phillips and Son on Monday. 

Bristol Bay drift permit holders: the deadline to vote in BBRSDA's 2024 Board election is April 9. There are two open seats to fill. More info here.

Sara Webster is replacing John Gauvin as Science Projects Director at the Alaska Seafood Cooperative, which works on management of Bering Sea flatfish and non-pollock groundfish species. 

This week's Alaska Fisheries Report: OBI's abandonment of Alitak setnetters, new funding for mapping harmful algal blooms on the Oscar Dyson, and unharvested herring.

The City of Kodiak is readying to "dispose of four apparently abandoned vessels" in St. Herman Harbor: the Kilkenny, the Shearwater, the Van Elliot, and the Elizabeth Taylor. 

Kodiak’s City Council has authorized a cooperative agreement with ADFG to repair the St. Paul Harbor boat launch ramp, a project that's been on the docket since 2021.

Fish farmers are working on better messaging. A new study suggests that touting the "environmental benefits" of finfish farming would resonate better with US consumers. Huh.

The push for growth in Alaska mariculture is picking up steam, with the goal of turning it into a $100 million industry by 2040. A new NOAA report outlines the industry, the bottlenecks, and opportunities - no experience required. 

Some reminders:

AMSEA has a ton of upcoming drill conductor and classes! Registration and info here.

AgWest Farm Credit (a sponsor of this newsletter!) offers $15,000 New Producer Grants to newer fishermen. That's free money. The deadline to apply is May 31. Note that the flyer refers to agriculturalists, but the grant program is open to fishermen.

The Halibut Defense Group is intervening in a lawsuit to enforce trawl bycatch reductions. Lawsuits are expensive. If this matters to you, please consider donating to the Halibut Defense Fund.

Applications are open for ALFA's 2024 Crew Training Program.