Kodiak will not take Alaska’s halibut title for a second year.
With 97 percent of the halibut quota in the central Gulf used, Homer has landed 4.39 million pounds of halibut to Kodiak’s 3.38 million. The halibut season ends Nov. 7, and just under 339,000 pounds of halibut quota remains in the central Gulf of Alaska.
Statewide, 20.53 million pounds of the state’s 21.81 million-pound quota have been taken. After Homer and Kodiak, the state’s biggest halibut ports are Seward (2.74 million pounds), Dutch Harbor (1.43 million pounds) and Sitka, (1.17 million pounds).
Final figures are expected in the spring from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
While halibut has declined in importance due to declining quotas that create smaller fisheries, halibut’s price per pound is far higher than salmon or groundfish, which dominate commercial fishing in the Gulf of Alaska.
Homer bills itself the “Halibut Capital of the World,” but that title was taken by Kodiak last year. In 2012, Kodiak landed 5.04 million pounds of halibut to Homer’s 4.42 million. That was the first year since 1997 that Kodiak took the No. 1 spot. Every year from 1997 to 2012, Kodiak was No. 2 behind Homer, but the difference between the two declined after 2005.
The gap narrowed to a hair in 2011, when Homer landed just 44,000 pounds more than Kodiak,.
According to NMFS data, the amount of Alaska halibut landed in ports outside the 49th state has continued to decline, due in large part to the premium buyers pay for fresh fish. The time needed to transport fish to Seattle results in decreased quality, even if transportation costs are lowered from a Lower 48 port.
After the halibut season closes on Nov. 15, halibut fishermen can expect a tumultuous offseason. Last year, NMFS increased its management fee from 1.6 percent of a fisherman’s catch to 2.1 percent of the catch. Additional fee increases are possible this year as well.
Also last offseason, the International Pacific Halibut Commission cut Canadian and US quotas by 7.5 percent. Initial indications are that the commission may cut quotas further. The IPHC’s preliminary meeting is Dec. 4-5 in Seattle. Its quota-setting meeting is Jan. 13-17 in Seattle.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.