Laine Welch: State's eight-month halibut season comes to a close

Laine Welch

This year's halibut fishery is all over. The eight-month season ended on Nov. 7, a week earlier than usual.

Preliminary numbers show there was more than a million pounds left of the nearly 22-million-pound harvest.

Kodiak processors called the season "scratchy." Fishermen seemed to agree.

"As a whole it was kind of slow fishing," said Rick Turvey, skipper of the Big Blue. "There is fish out there; they are just harder to get and they don't seem like they are getting big. There are a lot of small fish."

Prices to Kodiak fishermen averaged about $4.50 for the season, but ended as high as $5.65.

Fishing was better down at the Panhandle, with one Petersburg buyer calling it "very good, historically good."

A dollar drop in price also helped keep the market moving, after some early push-back from buyers to the high-priced fish. That, combined with overall lower halibut catches, have cleaned out any backlogs in freezers and bodes well for next year.

The first peek at what next year's catches might be will be come from the International Pacific Halibut Commission in early December. The fishery reopens in March.

Expo grows

The Pacific Marine Expo -- Fish Expo to most Alaskans -- is one of the nation's top 50 fastest-growing trade shows.

"We're at 492 companies displaying products in 69,000 square feet and that's up from a little over 400 companies and 65,000 square feet last year," said show director Bob Callahan.

The 47th annual expo will be Nov. 20-22 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle.

"We have exhibitors from 14 foreign countries and 107 brand new companies on the show floor," he added.

Last year a scheduling conflict forced Expo to change its dates from weekend to mid-week.

"We were concerned about it but it worked out so well that we have kept the mid-week dates based on feedback from exhibitors, visitors and our advisory board," Callahan said. "It was overwhelmingly positive."

It's a learning environment, Callahan said, "You can see what your competitors are doing, attend free education sessions and interact with your peers.

"You can't get that from the Internet."

Go to for more information about the event.

Laine Welch is a Kodiak-based fisheries journalist. Her Fish Radio programs can be heard on stations around the state or found at Contact her at

Laine Welch