Laine Welch: Salmon permits lose value

Laine Welch

The market for Alaska salmon permits is up and down but sales of catch shares are in a stall.

Permit values depend on the region and the strength of recent salmon runs. For example, in Bristol Bay, where sockeye runs have been down for two years and another lackluster season is expected this summer, salmon drift permits have nosedived from $165,000 in 2011 to about $90,000 now.

"It's hard to imagine (permit prices) will go up a lot with a catch forecast of 16 to 17 million salmon this year," said Doug Bowen at Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.

Likewise, drift permits at Alaska Peninsula fisheries (Area M) that topped $150,000 in 2011 are now priced about $90,000. The value of Kodiak seine permits has dropped below $40,000.

"There has been just a general lack of interest in those permits and there are quite a few on the market," Bowen said.

On the upside, driven by robust sockeye returns recently, the value of drift permits in Cook Inlet has ticked up to about $80,000. A scan of broker sites shows Prince William Sound seine permits have dipped a bit to about $140,000.

The priciest permit at the moment is for Southeast Alaska, where salmon runs have been strong. Seine permits have topped $250,000 and drift permits are about $110,000. Alaskan Quota and Permits in Petersburg has one Southeast seine permit listed at $306,000.

Big month for meetings

The fishing industry's bottom lines are likely to be affected by regulators' decisions this month.

The state Board of Fisheries meets Jan. 15-20 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. The board will take up 70 proposals for commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region. Audio of the meeting will be streamed live.

Meetings on the expanded observer program will be in Southeast Alaska starting Jan. 15 in Ketchikan, Jan. 16 in Sitka and Jan. 17 in Juneau.

Alaska halibut fishermen will find out how much -- or, likely, how much less -- they can catch this year when the International Pacific Halibut Commission meets the week of Jan. 21 in Victoria, B.C.

Coastwide halibut catches could be cut by more than 30 percent this year, meaning a reduction of about 17.5 million pounds for Alaska.

Fish shuffle

A seat on the Board of Fisheries became available last week with the sudden resignation of Bill Brown of Juneau. Brown was appointed to the board in 2008 and his term was due to expire June 30, 2014. The governor has 30 days to fill the seat and is soliciting applicants.

The terms of board members Vince Webster of King Salmon and Tom Kluberton of Talkeetna expire at the end of June. All appointments must be confirmed by the Legislature.

Two seats are opening on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council this summer. Terms are expiring for Duncan Fields of Kodiak and Sam Cotton of Eagle River.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission is seeking applicants for two U.S. commissioner seats. Nominations can be sent to the IPHC for 30 days.

Laine Welch is a Kodiak-based fisheries journalist. Her Fish Radio programs can be heard on stations around the state. This material is protected by copyright. For information on reprinting, contact

Laine Welch