by Laine Welch
Alaska salmon permits in many fisheries have tripled in value since 2002 and the upward trend continues.
An overview of April listings by four brokers shows that Bristol Bay drift net permits are valued at nearly $134,000 by the state, and listed for sale at $150,000 to $170,000. That compares to $90,000 this past January.
In Southeast Alaska, seine permits are the priciest in the state at more than $300,000. That’s an increase of $50,000 since January.
The asking price for Prince William Sound seine cards exceeds $200,000, compared to the $140,000 range a year ago. After being stalled in the mid $30,000 range for years, Kodiak seine permits are showing a steady uptick, now listing at $55,000 to more than $80,000. Chignik permits are moving up from the $225,000 range, while Area M/Alaska Peninsula drift permits were listed at $100,000 — up from $90,000.
Cook Inlet drift permits were listed at $100,000, up from $75,000 less than a year ago.
Halibut shares have hit a $50 asking price in Southeast Alaska; it’s the only place halibut catches have increased in the past two years.
For the Central Gulf, asking prices for halibut IFQs range from $28 to $42 a pound, and $16 to $20 in the Western Gulf. That’s an increase of about $6 dollars in both gulf regions since January.
Conversely, prices for shares of sablefish (black cod) show a big drop in price from a year ago. Asking prices in Southeast of $22 to just over $30 are down from $28 to $34 per pound. Likewise, Central Gulf sablefish shares are priced at $15 to $30, down from the same prices as Southeast.
The decline is likely due to a big drop in dock prices for sablefish over the past two years; (after reaching a high of $9/lb for large fish). Also to blame is a 25 percent drop in the value of the yen in Japan, where the bulk of Alaska’s sablefish is sold, said Andy Wink, lead seafood analyst with the McDowell Group in Juneau.
A new Alaska Mariculture Initiative has a mission to create a plan “to grow a billion-dollar industry within 30 years.” That would about double the annual dockside value of all Alaska seafood landings combined.
The ambitious project will be bankrolled by a $216,812 federal grant to the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. It’s one of 10 award recipients from a pool of 250 as part of NOAA Fisheries’ national mariculture expansion policy.
“We see it as a real opportunity that has been kind of struggling in Alaska,” said AFDF director Julie Decker, adding that the project will “broaden the concept of mariculture.”
Decker points out many parallels between the mariculture initiative and Alaska’s salmon-enhancement program, where the state backed a $100-million, low-interest, revolving loan fund so salmon hatcheries could get built and operate for several years. That gave them time to develop tax and cost-recovery programs to help pay back the long-term loans.
“It helps people see conceptually that Alaska can do this,” she said. “Now we have hatcheries that have completely paid back those loans with interest, and are producing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of salmon every year.”
Mariculture was approved by the Alaska Legislature in 1988. Today, 69 sites are permitted, but only 28 growers are marketing shellfish — primarily oysters — with an annual value of half a million dollars a year.
Not all waters are created equal: Whales act as sentinels in changing marine environments, salmon excluders for trawl fisheries, economics of killer whale predation. These are just a few topics people will learn about at next week’s Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium.
“This is a pretty unique gathering of folks who have been doing research in the Kodiak area that work for state, federal and academic entities,” said Kate Wynn, a marine mammal researcher at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center and co-organizer of the Sea Grant event. “They are all getting together and bringing their science back to the people of Kodiak.”
Nearly 40 presentations are scheduled over four days, with each presentation limited to 15 minutes, and five minutes for questions. Wynn said it is important for things to be presented in a way that anyone can understand.
“Don’t overwhelm them with scientific details you might use in a scientific symposium to your peers,” she explained “These are school kids, guys off the street, tourists and others in the community who want to know what you’re talking about.”
Alaska Sea Grant has hosted similar “lighter side of science” symposia in other Alaska communities to highlight local research. Wynn said the goal is to make science enjoyable and not to scare people away.
“We’ve actually had discussions about even using the word science in the symposium name,” she said. “It can throw people off and be intimidating.”
The KAMSS event runs from April 22- 26 at the Kodiak Convention Center. Google KAMSS or visit Alaska Sea Grant. http://seagrant.uaf.edu/conferences/2014/kamss/index.php
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