The Fish Ticket

April 25, 2024

NEW: Alaska Commercial Fishing Courses!

Well, this is a long time coming. For the past two years we've been working on a pair of digital courses on Alaska's commercial fishing industry: Zero to Deckhand and Captain's Course. We truly believe that knowledge is power, and we built these courses to equip current and aspiring fishermen with the knowledge and tools for success. Why learn the hard way if you don't have to?

Zero to Deckhand is designed to introduce greenhorns to the commercial fishing industry. It covers the basics, including fishing areas, species, seasons, vessels and gear types, agencies, ways to prepare for your first fishing season, packing lists, different roles in the industry, how to get fishing jobs, crew shares and crew contracts, taxes & finances for newer fishermen, advocacy, and more. While nothing can beat good old fashioned hands-on training, the digital format of Zero to Deckhand allows anyone anywhere to take the course, so they aren't starting at zero when they hop onboard.

Zero to Deckhand is available NOW at early bird pricing. Plus, Fish Ticket readers may use the code FISHTICKET at checkout for an additional 10% off through May 31.

Captain's Course dives into the business side of commercial fishing and is designed to help new or aspiring skippers make informed business decisions and calculated investments. We cover the limited entry permit system, the IFQ system, and buying/selling/leasing permits and quota. We go through the process of purchasing boats and what vessel ownership entails. We talk about different ways to structure fishing businesses, taxes & finances for owner-operators, and the importance of advocating for fisheries (especially if you're investing in them). Captain's Course is launching soon.
View Courses

Permits & State Fisheries

Bristol Bay drift permits appear to be inching up in value, hitting $137,500 this week- the highest price we've seen since May 2023 when a permit sold for $170,000. Our lowest asking price is $140,000. Permits leased for $15,500 this week, the highest yet this year. Our lowest asking price for a lease is $16,000 and we have an offer of $15,000. New listings include a Kodiak Tanner to 120' permit asking $90,000, and an Alaska power troll permit asking $19,000. New offers include $110,000 for a 3A 6-angler CHP, $50,000 for a Chignik seine permit, and $4,000 for a Cook Inlet drift EMT.

In ADFG news:

ADFG will be holding a virtual purse seine task force meeting May 8 to discuss management of the upcoming 2024 purse seine season. Join via Zoom. 

In Cook Inlet news, NMFS published proposed harvest specs for the federal waters fishery, including Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 492,100 sockeye. If you have thoughts to share, click the green "submit a formal comment" button at the top of the page. The comment deadline is May 13.

The US Secretary of Commerce issued fishery disaster declarations for the 2022 Kuskokwim River salmon fishery and the 2021 and 2022 Upper Cook Inlet East Side setnet salmon fishery. This is the second recent disaster declaration for both of these fisheries.

Some reminders:

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

Halibut quota sales in 3A have slowed down a bit. We sold 3A unblocked this week at $28.00 and 3A blocked quota at $23.50. A block of 3B sold last week for $20.50, down considerably from a sale last spring at $34.00. The dock price in Homer has been holding in the five dollar range but prices popped up over the six dollar mark today at $5.75/$6.00/$6.25. In Sitka today, fishermen saw $5.00/$5.75/>80# $5.00.

About 12% of the halibut TAC has been landed so far this year, with Homer in the lead at 68 deliveries totaling 588,678 pounds. Total sablefish landings are currently confidential. 

The Bering Sea Dungeness fishery opens May 1 and runs through October 18. 15 boats registered and officials appear optimistic for a good harvest.

The IPHC Management Strategy Advisory Board will meet virtually May 1-3. The meeting is open to the public.

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.

What Else?

ASMI's 2024 Economic Value of Alaska’s Seafood Industry report is out. Although it's based largely on 2022 numbers (and thus doesn't quite capture the current industry circumstances), it has some pretty impressive data: the seafood industry directly employs more than 48,000 workers annually in Alaska, over 24,000 of which are fishermen, and contributes $6 billion to Alaska’s economy. That's Billion, with a B.

Peter Pan Seafoods announced it will be “halting operations at its processing plants, leading to the discontinuation of both summer and winter production cycles for the foreseeable future.” Silver Bay purchased the Valdez plant and is set to operate Port Moller and Dillingham, but King Cove is expected to remain closed until at least next season. For inquiring minds, here's a timeline of what went wrong and when. Meanwhile, the city of King Cove is preparing for a salmon season without Peter Pan.

Silver Bay has officially closed on its purchase of Trident's Ketchikan facility. 

Wells Fargo, Peter Pan Seafoods' biggest lender, filed a petition to put the company under receivership, noting that Peter Pan was in default on more than $60.2 million dollars. If granted, the California-based fiduciary would have the power to liquidate assets.

Whittier Seafoods announced they will not be buying fish for the rest of the year, releasing fishermen from their 2024 harvesting contracts. The processor hopes to be back in the game for the 2025 season. 

The Alaska Senate proposed $7.5 million in aid for processors. The funds would be issued as a grant to SeaShare, which would then purchase seafood from smaller processors to be donated to food banks throughout the state.

NMFS denied a request for emergency action to implement a cap of zero on Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery, which was requested in January by Alaska Native groups representing almost 100 tribes in Western Alaska. NMFS said the petition didn't meet the required criteria for emergency action.

Jeff Crain, captain of the Bering Sea pollock trawler F/V Sovereignty, penned an op-ed piece informing Alaskans about how the pollock fishery operates and avoids bycatch, noting that not all trawl fisheries are the same.

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Mine - again. 

ComFish wrapped up earlier this month, where ADFG Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang touched on bycatch, lawsuits, and the status of the industry, Senator Sullivan spoke about communist fish, and Senator Murkowski and Representative Peltola talked about Russia's role in the seafood industry.

Trident, who ardently supported a ban on Russian origin seafood, has confirmed its Germany-based subsidiary, Pickenpack, is selling Russian seafood.

The Alaska state legislature heard a resolution today directing the State of Alaska and the NPFMC to support regulatory changes aimed at bycatch reduction.

This week's Alaska Fisheries Report: the effects of climate change on Gulf of Alaska fishermen, Alaska Senate proposes aid for smaller processors, Trident's Ketchikan sale closes, and  Seafood Producer’s Cooperative is slated for an energy upgrade.

Three Kodiak crabbers have been charged with multiple felonies after allegedly illegally delivering Tanner crab and golden king crab in Seattle without first landing it in Alaska. 

The USDA will increase purchases of pollock, salmon, and other seafood for the National School Lunch Program and other federal food assistance programs.

On last week's Bering Sea Barometer podcast, Pete Neaton covers winter weather, the tail end of the cod and pollock seasons, and researchers looking for seals in the northern Bering Sea.

The University of Alaska was awarded $20 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to look at how anthropogenic climate change affects fishing and mariculture in the Gulf of Alaska. 

Some reminders:

AMSEA has a ton of upcoming drill conductor 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.

Real Time Data is looking for halibut and sablefish fishermen to test their e-logbook program, Deckhand, in the GOA this year. Fishermen will receive free software access for 2024 and 2025, a $500 stipend, and an iPad, case, and mount to keep if they participate in the full project duration. Ready to ditch the pen and paper? More info here.